Obama’s Obituary for Gadaffi and justification for his ‘leading from behind’ policy

President Obama offered an obituary on Muammar Gaddafi which permits reflection on American foreign policy of “leading from behind”. It indicates the dilemmas of leadership within the context of the death of a political enemy

The snippet of his speech above also provides links to various other videos of the President and Colonel Gadaffi.

Mardell’s analysis for the BBC

Mark Mardell of the BBC offered a thoughtful critique of President Obama’s foreign policy based on his speech which had been made within hours of Gadaffi’s capture and death. Mardell speculated on why the President spoke as he did. It indicates the dilemmas of leadership within the context of the death of political enemy. What follows is an abbreviated version of his analysis:

Gaddafi’s death will be a relief to President Obama and his administration. That’s on the fairly simple grounds that he backed NATO action, called for him to go, and now he’s gone. In an awkward phrase, coined by an anonymous official, the policy was “to lead from behind.”

The road that led us to this day tells us a lot about Barack Obama’s foreign policy as a whole, and its sometimes uncomfortable mix of idealism and realism. [This policy] is driven by a sense that, particularly in the Arab world, the US must step back a pace, not be seen as a bully, always hectoring or imposing its will using physical force.

Even though they didn’t shout about it from the rooftops, American forces were deeply involved. The total cost to the US so far stands at just over $1bn. Without American involvement behind the scenes it probably couldn’t have been done.

A good deal of muddle

The perception of the American position wasn’t all deliberate. There really was a good deal of muddle. As so often Obama took a while to decide what to do. Crucial allies like the UK and France were kept in the dark as some argued for intervention to prevent a humanitarian crisis, while others said that America could not afford, in any sense, another military adventure in the Arab world.

Fear of moral failure

In the end it was fear of being judged a moral failure that drove the decision. The president was told that thousands could die in a massacre in Benghazi and he wasn’t going to be held responsible for that.

But if President Obama’s policy has been a success on its own terms, it leaves others in the US deeply worried. They don’t think their country should encourage, cajole, help and guide. They think it should [be seen] to lead in fact and in deed. There are others who think that backing the people in the Arab world, however quietly, is paving the way for jihadist regimes that will be hostile to American interests.

Dilemmas of leadership

Students of leadership may find it instructive to takes these seven short paragraphs and make sense of them by identifying the dilemmas facing President Obama as he offered his public statement on the capture and death of his political enemy.

The English edition of Aljazeera summarised quotes from around the world. The article concluded with the words of Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the US Congress:

“Libyans are safer now after Gaddafi’s death and the Arab world is breaking free. But never celebrate death of anyone, even bad people.”

2 Responses to Obama’s Obituary for Gadaffi and justification for his ‘leading from behind’ policy

  1. samer al salhi says:

    mark’s critique mentioned above is a good one except the portion talking about “jihad” there is still unclear idea of those analysts about the Islamic concepts but in all cases this is not the subject of the interesting article

    US president is really in a dilemma about their foreign strategy , the previous presidents failed in their Strategy towards the rest of the world and that deepened the issue for Mr. Obama

    the Arab world is one of the the most ambiguous parts of the world, while the area is small compared to the rest of the world it contains the most important treasure “the oil” and their people are conducted by regimes who are dictators but in the other hand very loyal to US which also put US in a dilemma of the reaction towards them.

    the issue with Gadaffi is not very far from that , the guy was against US in his actions but his country is rich of oil and the relationships with him recently improved a lot , during the war he “Gaddafi” fooled most of the leaders but showing being the strong and the one to win the battle which again deepened the issue with US to support him or be against him .

    finally and as mentioned earlier in LWD article , US show change their position and in the way they deal with the rest of the world especially with the Arabs they should put them selves in a way close to the people because those people at the end even conducted by dictatorship will be strong some day to break the jail and that what is going on these days

    US should be clear in their strategy and look to others in a different perspective , A CHANGE IS NEEDED TO THAT STRATEGY

  2. ahmer568 says:

    Lets know about Islam culture and other religions. Listen Islamic Lectures of various islamic scholars, stories, beautiful Mosques, Poems, andnamy more. Just visit http://www.islamicglimpse.blogspot.com

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