Barack Obama and the West’s Illusion of Leadership
There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred.That would be contrary to our traditions.
American President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the American government’s practice of handing over surplus military equipment to local police forces. Apparently he just recently became aware of just how militarized local law enforcement has become in the United States; no doubt as the result of continuous news coverage of how Ferguson Police dealt with protest in that city.
It fills your heart with confidence, doesn’t it, to see political leaders come to a realization years after the fact? It’s the same kind of delayed realization that western governments are coming to about the mess in the Middle East.
ISIS didn’t suddenly appear last night. Their first and subsequent attacks were well documented on a daily basis by news media from CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera – not to mention the various brutal videos ISIS itself had posted. Nonetheless the West, led by Barack Obama offered little more than cautious rhetoric. Canada’s Prime Minister, usually eager to get in on an opportunity to offer up grave condemnation didn’t even do that. He was too busy offering up grave condemnation of Vladimir Putin and Justin Trudeau.
Now, the American Administration having realized just how significant the threat posed by ISIS is talking about military action against – Syria. The thinking seems to be that attacking Syria will reduce support for ISIS although, to be honest, I can’t quite figure that one out.
For whatever reason, the West always seems to be a dollar short and a day late when it comes to the issues with which we are confronted these days. I guess our leaders have never heard of ‘nipping’ things in the bud and instead practice a political strategy of talking loudly but carrying a soft indecisive stick.
But I digress.
I have no idea what to do in the Middle East which means I am as smart as Barack Obama and most of the rest of the West’s leaders – although I take little comfort in that.
What I wanted to talk about was the militarization of law enforcement and government waste.
Barack Obama stated last week that seeing images of police armed with military-grade weapons in Ferguson Missouri made it ‘useful’ to review the government’s practice of handing over military equipment to local law enforcement. Two things struck me about that beyond the curious use of the word ‘useful’. The first was how is it possible to have surplus military equipment of the caliber being handed off to local law enforcement? That stuff costs money and if the Defense Department is buying stuff they can’t use then they’re squandering money. The other was the number of agencies that will be involved in that review. They include:
- The Domestic Policy Council
- The National Security Council
- The Office of Management and Budget
- The Defence Department
- Homeland Security
- The Treasury Department
God save us but that’s a lot of review power. The only groups missing seem to be the EPA and the two guys in the White House responsible for Michele Obama’s wardrobe.
Are you kidding me?
Christ in Heaven, even CNN’s Anderson Cooper has a better handle on the issue than the Obama Administration and Anderson isn’t really paying all that much attention. How is it possible for a government administration to be so obtuse? This is nothing but yet another attempt to avoid the issue and make a decision.
It is the illusion of action without any action actually being taken – risk aversion elevated to political inertia. And it is dangerous – even more dangerous than the dithering of western leaders during Hitler’s rise to power and the rebuilding of Germany’s military strength.
Has the West not learned anything in the past century? Have none of our leaders ever read a history book? Certainly they’re quite comfortable throwing around comparisons to Hitler when attacking an opponent but do they not see themselves in the same leaders that allowed Hitler to become the threat he became?
But I digress. . .again.
Politics in the West has become so narrowly focused on winning and maintaining power, it has lost the ability to do what it was elected to do and that, my friends, is govern!
Barack Obama couldn’t even make a decision on building a pipeline between Canada’s oil sands and refineries in Texas. He didn’t want to say yes because it would offend environmentalists (who would have thought that Daryl Hannah had so much influence?). If he said no it would throw away the opportunity to create a significant number of jobs so he did what he is doing again now – appoint people and departments to review and assess while he goes golfing. It’s the illusion of doing something and while our enemies, like ISIS and Al Qaeda, are highly focused; our leaders bob and weave, delay and dither until they are absolutely forced to act.
In Canada, we see it all the time. Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, for example, has set up so many committees to study and review individual issues that she is single-handedly reducing unemployment in this country with all the appointments she has made to her review boards and assessment panels.
Inevitably that ends up costing us money we didn’t need to spend, missed opportunity and too often in conflict zones, unnecessary loss of life as our governments delay action for so long, the enemy becomes stronger and an even greater threat to our security.
Six months after publicly making the commitment of financial and equipment support to the Ukrainian government, the Canadian government finally acted after the Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada rather bluntly pointed out that the aid had not been delivered. To say that the Canadian government was more than a little miffed by the Ambassador’s comments would be an understatement but it did cause the government to finally follow through on its promise. It sent a couple of plane loads of non-lethal military equipment; mostly sleeping bags and tents; basically camping gear.
It struck me at the time that Ukraine might have got that equipment sooner through a sponsorship deal with L.L. Bean or Coleman.
In the six months it took for Canada and the West to meet its commitments, Crimea seceded from Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine started a civil war which has resulted in a significant number of military and civilian casualties including the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 resulting in the deaths of 218 passengers and crew. So much for depending on empty rhetoric and selective economic sanctions to make the world a safer place.
The West talks a good game but is unbelievably reluctant to walk its talk. Most western leaders these days are incompetent political cowards who take themselves far too seriously.
It’s small wonder that our children’s children are facing mountains of debt created by this cabal of the tragically inept and our world is increasingly more dangerous. Perhaps the United States should send the Ferguson Police Department to the Middle East.
The other thing that struck me about the President’s announcement is that he is sending three people to Michael Brown’s funeral including: Broderick Johnson, Chairman of the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force,. (My Brother’s Keeper is an Obama initiative that aims to empower young minorities), an unnamed advisor to the office of the White House and Marion Marshall, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
What in God’s name is the Office of Public Engagement? How many bloody departments like this are we paying for? Aren’t our elected officials supposed to represent us and wouldn’t you think that would mean that they should be directly engaged with us?
Apparently, they are so busy avoiding making decisions and attacking their political opponents they have to create departments to engage with us on their behalf.
Maybe we should just cut to the chase and elect those folks instead of the ones we’ve been electing. Maybe then we’ll actually get some decisive action rather than the continual political illusions offered up by the current crop of wannabe leaders.
© 2014 Maggie’s Bear
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