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June 16, 2014 2:35 pm

Obama Fiddles While the World Burns

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

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Depiction of President Obama delivering his 2014 State of the Union address. Photo: White House.

Under President Obama, the world is becoming unstuck. Iraq is being overrun by Islamist terrorists and the United States is now evacuating its Baghdad embassy. The Arab Spring has led to either civil war and mass slaughter, like Syria, or new Arab dictators, like Egypt. Libya is degenerating into a den of terrorists who have already murdered the American Ambassador. Putin is sending tanks into Ukraine and the thuggish Russian strongman bestrides the world like a colossus, unchecked by American will.

These facts are undeniable. The only question is whether President Obama is responsible.

Obama’s argument, as laid out in his 2014 West Point commencement, is that his first rule of foreign policy is “Don’t do anything stupid.” Military action should be reserved only for the most extreme circumstances. Americans are war-weary after Iraq and Afghanistan. Our President believes in a minimalist approach.

The shallowness of this argument, however, lies in this simple fact. Yes, Americans are weary of entering foreign conflicts. The President is correct that we don’t want our boys dying to fight on behalf of Iraqi cowards who shed their uniforms at the first sound of gunfire. But we are even more wary of another 9/11 attack. And by allowing Iraq and Syria to degenerate into Afghanistan, we are all but guaranteeing another hit on the United States. A lawless world cannot possibly keep America safe.

I have contempt for Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq. Increasingly autocratic, he is even more guilty of gross ingratitude. Rather than show America any kind of thanks for all that we sacrificed to give his nation their freedom, he treats America with disdain. Who wants to help a man who is becoming a despot, hates democratic Israel, and reaches out to America only when he fears being strung up by Jihadists?

But this isn’t about Maliki, but America. The chaos that comes to Iraq will directly impact the security of the United States. An evacuation of Baghdad would be much worse than the shame of Saigon because at least the North Vietnamese communists did not deploy a global army of terrorists who fly planes into buildings. Al Qaeda does.

I visited West Point last night with my family for their summer concert series. It was the 239th birthday of the Army, and the West Point Band put on a stirring and patriotic performance. President Obama had spoken at the cadets’ commencement just two weeks earlier. Ask yourself: how did these cadets feel when President Obama got up at their graduation and told them there is increasingly no substantive role for them to play in the world. Here were young warriors, trained to fight and protect the United States, being told that the use of force has little to no application. No wonder there was such tepid applause and a cold response. These bright young men and women must have been thinking why they didn’t instead just land jobs in the  State Department.

No one wants to see American troops die in foreign wars. Of course our soldiers should never be sent needlessly into harm’s way. But the threat of American force must always be present, even if it’s not deployed. People must fear the United States. What President Obama is doing by not taking action and by giving so many unnecessary speeches defending his belief in doing nothing, is that he is removing the deterrent of a credible threat. The world believes that the United States under President Obama has no stomach for a fight. And we’re watching the effects all around us. The inmates are running the asylum.

The world is slowly becoming unglued. The Islamic world especially is in a deteriorating spiral that’s positively tragic to watch. Turkey, once a proud democracy, now boasts a Prime Minister whose own political aides violently attack peaceful protestors. My God, Erdogan doesn’t even shy from harassing and shoving CNN reporters while they are live on the air. He no longer even shows the pretense of freedom. When I was in Istanbul I was amazed to experience firsthand how YouTube is permanently blocked, and Twitter was restored just two days before I arrived. This Turks were once a free people. How are they allowing this?

Syria is a giant killing zone with President Obama’s red line against the use of chemical weapons being repeatedly violated without consequence. Iran sports the second most brutal and vile government on the earth, after North Korea, and thinks nothing of stoning women, hanging gays from cranes, and assassinating peaceful protestors in cold blood. Worse, they fund the bloodiest terrorists around the world. But that does not stop our President from negotiating with them and leaving them within a few months of nuclear weapons. Egypt is back to Presidents who win elections with 95% of the vote. Nigeria’s Boko Haram is the filthiest terror group in the entire world, murdering children in large number and bragging about selling young girls into sexual slavery.

And who most pays the biggest price for this lawlessness? Why Israel, of course, with three teenagers now kidnapped by what appears to be Hamas, an organization that the United States officially labels as terrorists but whose joint government with Mahmoud Abbas we now recognize.

Through all this, Barack Obama drifts along, meditating on his mantra of “let’s do nothing stupid.” But I have long believed that the true sins we are guilty of in life are not the sins of commission, the mistakes we make, but rather the sins of omission, the good things we fail to do.

Sometimes the dumbest thing is to fail to act because of the fear of doing dumb things.

Barack Obama is fiddling while the world is burning. Israel is already smoldering under its heat and it won’t be long before America too is cindered.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network, the foremost organization influencing politics, media, and the culture with Jewish values. He has just published Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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  • Richard Wells

    I would just like to point out that Mr. Boteach has not done justice to the tone and message of Obama’s commencement speech at West Point. For those interested in reading the original transcript, here is a link:

    Take the time to read through the speech and you will see that the motto “Don’t do anything stupid,” which Obama has used on occasion should not be confused as being the actual guiding principle of his administration’s foreign policy. If you don’t believe what he said in his speech, take a look at his actions.

    Mr. Boteach’s contention that “Obama has done nothing” is also untrue. Apart from supporting foreign governments’ anti-terror efforts, building international support for sanctions against rogue states, and supplying relief to refugees, Obama has also given the green light to countless airstrikes against terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, and Somalia. Here is a list of a few such notable airstrikes (all but one of which have taken place since Mr. Boteach wrote this piece):

    Sept. 2 (Somalia) Drone strike against Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane.

    Sept. 1 (Amirli, Iraq) multiple airstrikes against ISIS positions. (according to local fighters, US strikes were crucial to breaking ISIS’s siege of Ameril.

    August 31 (Iraq) Strikes against ISIS positions near Mosul Dam and Amirli.

    April 19-20? (Yemen) Drone strike against an Al Qaeda affiliate kills more than three dozen terrorists.

    Finally, Mr. Boteach does not say what he thinks President Obama ought to do. I’m still not clear about what actions the President has failed to take…

  • To paraphrase a preacher in light of Obama’s current poll numbers and the bloom being off the rose so to speak:
    “Obama’s chickens are coming home to roost”

  • judy weleminsky

    This obsession with Obama is foolish. The American people have not got the will to fight or to fund a fight. Even more important they don’t know what to do that would be right. You have all demonstrated this by focusing on attacking Obama for what is a shared western malaise.None of the European leaders have the ‘muslim’ taint you apply to Obama but they are also rabbits caught in the glare of the headlights.
    The truth appears to be that for too long we poured money and arms into oil rich states and their corrupt leaders. When this oilflow was threatened by nasty dictators we used their inhumanity to their own people as a pretext for military action which cost lives and money and created chaos and weak corrupt leadership for militants to exploit.
    So now we have let the genie out of the bottle and we don’t know how to fight it and maintain human rights.
    Ironically it is easier for Israel. It and its people know they are on the front lines and must protect themselves while maintaining a vibrant liberal democracy.

    The people who are paying the heaviest price are the other people of the middle east and north Africa who are being killed, displaced and subjugated. Maybe their salvation will come when they realise that Israel is their friend not their enemy – indeed I think that is starting to happen. They have been fed antisemitism as a foil to focus their anger away from their leaders. The scales are starting to drop from their eyes.

    We need to dismantle the organs of the disUnited Nations and replace them with leadership groups where only those meeting democratic human right observing low corruption standards can be full members. These groups should take leadership action on the world stage. The US should be in the forefront and Israel a valued participant.

  • Marjorie

    What a selective memory. We were in Iraq before the Arab Spring, Tunisia, Libya or Egypt. Obama’s fault? How many times has Al Queda bombed us, up to and including 9/11? Yemen, USS Cole, our African embassies. 1000s injured, 1000s dead. Dozens of attacks under Reagan, Clinton and Bush. What did any of those presidents do to stop them? Nothing. What did they do to stop Hamas, Hizbollah or Syria? Where was your article about Reagan arming the Mujhadeen or Bush supporting democratic voting for Hamas? What kind of insanity is that?

    Bombings in Bali in 2002 and again in 2005. London in 2005. The synagogue bombing in Tunisia in 2002. All before Obama! Did you write a scathing article about Bush? No sir, you praised him. “My Love Affair with Evangelical Christians”, the article was called. You even called him a “great moral leader!” What a disgusting display. And yet, you’re ready to lay all of this at Obama’s feet.

    The American public isn’t that stupid. We’re not willing to keep sacrificing 1000s of American men to the Arabs either. We needed to get out of Iraq. We want out. So go ahead and do the Republican’s bidding. Maybe one day you’ll realize they aren’t worth it. They care nothing for us other than as pawns in their cockamamy, biblical extinction story.

    You should be ashamed, Rabbi, for stoking lies against our President. Unless you really believe them yourself. In which case, you need some help.

    • Penelope

      All you say is correct about a bunch of emasculated old women for leaders, but then you go off the rails.

      You would have kept on them instead of joining Obama off the rails. He is no better than any of them, in fact, that much worse for attempting to do nothing, nothing at all and happily prepared to openly declare it!

      The Rabbi is not wrong, but perhaps you are.

  • judorebbe

    I do hope that our President enjoyed his golf game (another, of over 200 during his time in office, at our expense) on Saturday, in Palm Springs.

  • Sonia Willats

    Leah, halvai! One would so like to be wrong, and a nut-case, as you say, and they genuinely leading the world down the garden path to peace … evidently a peace that needs to be enforced with hollow-point bullets, huge internal armed forces not shy to kill… And what about the Boston Marathon etc? The Agenda appears to march forward, relentlessly, whilst Obama makes speeches – some apparently idealistic; others e.g. to Geoffrey Goldberg whilst Netanyahu was on the plane, arrogant beyond worlds.

    One can see he is fronting an evil Agenda. The Agenda is moving forward, relentlessly. I am sure we all have misguided ‘liberals, or post-modernists’ in our families, who do not yet see that there is a point where LEFT MEETS RIGHT in their agenda to control and destroy genuine freedom marches on.

  • Mel

    Sorry, Rabbi, but the world under the Obama White House is not ‘slowly becoming’ unglued. It ‘rapidly became’ so. Until American Jews switch their worship of Socialism and Gelt to Hashem, their ushering-in the next, worldwide Shoah cannot be far away. Six years of tap-dancing around the obvious fact that the President is a foreign agent (whether for Anarchy or Global Jihad is not really very important) has not helped alleviate the crisis. We Reap What We Sow.

  • Edward Karl Schenk

    Check your paradigm at the door!
    Given that the goal is to institute shariah, sprout and water the caliphate, thus dominating all peoples; a purposeful, encouraging pull back of US power is all that is needed. Upon this goal, the administration is openly, wildly successful.
    G-D help us all!

    • Penelope

      Agreed an Islam sympathiser he is – a Muslim in sheep’s clothing – a traitor.

  • Beatrix

    Excellent article. As our comments show, without sound leadership, people are confused and scared.

  • Yale

    It’s too bad stupidity isn’t an impeachable offense.

    • Jonah

      Obama is not stupid he is an Islamic strategist, he is sly like a fox. He is accomplishing his goals while appearing insane. The only form of insanity he has is a type of caliphate lunacy, don’t be fooled, every move he makes is calculated. He is like a giant cobra slithering around the world striking everything that will not bow to the snake.

  • My Planet Israel

    The author skims the surface of far deeper issues as well as the complexity of the circumstances across the globe. There is no way the US and the West could be involved militarily in the list of countries the author called out: that would be akin to world war 3: it just undo-able. Secondly: as the author pointed out: why help Iraqi cowards…well, why help any or the said nations in their plight to destroy themselves? Our hard work and blood get buried in their primitive savagery the moment we hand things back over. This isnt Europe: it’s the third world- this is how they are. Why should ANYONE come to the aid of people who seed savagery daily? So we should beat up the bad guys and hand billions over to a lost 3 rd world nation that will decay the moment we leave…just to appease our ‘conscious’? Absurd. Military might comes from the sky: if a country becomes a threat: destroy their military infrastructure & leadership from the air and let the people on the ground figure out the rest for themselves. The one thing the author accurately describes, however: is the absolute impotence, ignorance and irrational idealism of Obama: he is by FAR, the worst president in US history. Further: he doesn’t possess a single quality of a leader.

  • Sunshine

    I’m fed up of reading people denigrating Putin. This is a man that I admire. He is a good guy. This guy is your ally and you keep on spitting on him.

    Your ‘damn’ media is not giving you the true story about Ukraine. Just like the Front National, Marine Le Pen, that you also denigrate.

    Both Marine and Putin admire Israel. They don’t hurt the Jews and have no intent in doing so.

    What is it with you people that you always find a way to alienate those on your side?

    • My Planet Israel

      You’re a lunatic. Plain and simple

    • zorka

      I am in total agreement in what you say, correction, the controlled Obama main stream media is not giving us the fact!!!

    • Simon Varga

      I agree 100%!

  • yussie

    Let him fiddle away…let these blood thirsty animals kill each other. No more american kids need die for these ingrates…

  • Fred

    Maybe Obama may become the Khalif of the world ,he is so understanding of the Muslim world ?????

    • Jonah

      What do you mean may become. He is wearing his boots.

  • This author is in afternoon siesta! He is supposedly an American, but apparently he lives on another planet!

    The roots of all tribulations are linked to the Israeli-Palestinians conflict. Our brave men and women gave life for Israel in two proxy wars only because Israel does not intend to come to peace with Palestinians.

    Based on books by renowned Israeli historians, Israel drove one million Palestinians from their homes and lands at gunpoint. Is not this inhumane because Israel is special? Is this, Mr. Shmuley Boteach, justified or is it ethnic cleansing?

    The US paid a heavy price for supporting Israeli cruelty. Our Veterans are homeless because of two wars for Israel, thus the current scarcity of funds. We now have 500,000 warriors who are suffering from mental ailments. Israel racist policies are still killing our brave men and women! How many? 22 warriors commit suicides daily. Israel has created millions of foes for us, more than any foe or friend in history. Its cruelty continues to keep five million Palestinians homeless.

    Israel spies on the US and steals our assets, but Mr. Shmuley Boteach cares not. Israel continues creating more wars, killing Moslems, but Mr. Shmuley Boteach cares not. Israel is using deceptions to create a war with Iran!

    Israeli agents, members of AIPAC, bribe 94 Senators and 219 Representatives for their show of hands for Israel. Interestingly, an employee of Israeli Embassy in Washington formed the AIPAC! Of course, Mr. Shmuley Boteach does not give a hoot.

    My question is: What have you done as an American citizen to counter Israel? It takes a man to stand against an evil. A true Jewish man stands against cruelty.

    Six million American children go to bed at night having no decent meals. Our hungry children deserve better!

    The kinkdom of barbarity, Saudi Arabia, another pretending ally of the US, sent Hijackers into our buildings. Now these stone-age leaders, all sheiks in Persian Gulf, and Israel are creating more turmoil in the world. We must hold these so-called Arab allies and Israel accountable.

    Mr. Shmuley Boteach: Americans despise wars and warmongers such as Senator McCain and Hillary Clinton. We support President Obama in avoiding wars. Mr. Shmuley Boteach: Stop your lies about President Obama.

    • Jonah

      The root to all tribulations springs from the conflict between Isaac and Ishmael. Until you understand the biblical root of these conflicts you will continue to Waller in Your muck of misunderstandings.

    • dee

      You’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, are you, Professor Akbar.

  • Scott

    Rebbe, Your article is spot on. It’s title says much more than it’s six words…….
    The Manchurian President. How could America have let this happen?

    • Tony Trenton

      But you voted him in TWICE !!!

  • A chilling and cogent analysis. Most frightening of all to me is the possibility that wily terror leaders are biding their time and redoubling their efforts now we have returned to pre-9.11 mindset.

  • Linda Rivera

    Russia and Putin are NOT the bad guys. This is media propaganda. The U.S. and the EU are supporting savage, barbaric FASCIST murderers in the Ukraine. The blood of their victims cries out to G-d.
    What is happening is terrible, satanic and completely evil.

    The Massacre in Ukraine is America’s Shame

  • Danuta Glendenning

    My comment would be: let each country solve their own problems. Why should Obama, and thus the USA, be responsible for peace in other nations. So-called help from countries is only forthcoming when they have an ulterior motive, like wanting to protect their future oil supplies. When there is nothing in the earth to extract you’ll find no country is interested. If you don’t want to usurp the country and become its official occupying force, stay out of it and let them be. The world is not a kindergarten where nanny Obama has to solve problems.

    • Beatrix

      You sound just like Roosevelt and America before WW2.

    • Sonia Willats

      Much of what you say is true, BUT WHY DOES OBAMA MESS AROUND WITH ISRAEL with such brazen and arrogant enthusiasm, WHILST watching other countries burn, and use chemical weapons against their people? WHY chat to Iran’s theocratic dictator, fronted by a smiling and cynical face?

      He lost NO TIME in letting the Islamic world – sp. the RADICAL Islamic world – that he is on their side. Why make red lines that you have no intent to act upon?

      MY QUESTION IS, WHO IS BEHIND OBAMA, as he fiddles why Rome burns. Obama cannot adopt these policies alone. It often appears that Congress is not behind Obama, and that the White House and State Dept. are acting out their own agenda, but backed by whom? There is a deep root here, somewhere.. a premeditated plan?

      • G Bern

        You ask why he does nothing. Its because he is and always was a Muslim and is a traitor to his own country.

        • dee

          He’s not a Muslim. He’s a radical Leftist who is trying to unpack America’s “knapsack of privilege”. He believes in “everybody gets a trophy just for participating”, and wants to share the power with the third world. Give them a break for a change! He’s reprehensible and a danger to freedom.

      • paul duncombe

        Sonia, the answer to your question,”who is behind Obama? can be found on the website news updates from the cutting edge .

        Obama is a puppet and is controlled by the illuminati new world order people, hence what appears to be irrational moves and decisions to us are just moves to bring in the new world order and produce the antichrist.

        Also, according to the cutting edge, these arab springs and turmoil are designed to replace entrenched leaders like Assad, Mubarak, Gaddafi etc. with compliant leaders who will readily do as they are told, and this is because the world will comprise 8 regions, hence Putin’s aggression. He is working to establish region 5. Obama is building region 1,which will comprise Canada, USA and Mexico. My country, Australia will be region 4.

        I think David Baye, the author of the website, is correct in his view on what is happening and I look forward to receiving his newsletters twice a week. His interpretation is from a Biblical perspective. He can also be found on cutting edge ministries.

        • dee

          Paul duncombe: another bright mind *eyeroll*.

      • Jonah

        Obama rules by creating chaos. His objective, a world Islamic government. If anyone gets in his way they will be destroyed. Christianity is to interwoven in the fabric of America, therefore it must be destroyed. The blood that runs in Israelis veins is like liquid silver to the Islamic werewolves. Israel is Islams greatest enemy along with Christians. Islam cannot survive without decimating, destroying and completely annihilating Israel and killing all religious Jews in the world. The liberal Jews do not bother Islam because most of them, not all of them, are what Jesus referred to as calling themselves Jews when they were in fact seeds of the serpent.

    • dee

      I hope you enjoy paying your jizya tax when the world falls under Sharia Law. If you’re not willing to fight for your freedom, then enjoy your soon to be Dhimmitude. It will come to that if you keep picking leaders who don’t understand the maxim: “peace through strength”.

  • Anthony Wicher

    Obama is even worse than this author imagines. 9/11 was an inside job carried out by the Bush administration as a pretext for invading the Middle East in the first place. Obama is protecting the Bush administration while continuing the Bush policies. The ISIS is fully funded and armed by the Obama administration and its Sunni oil colonies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE etc. The object is to break up both Iraq and Syria and ultimately Iran into powerless mini-states incapable of opposing U.S. hegemony.

    • Nathan

      Please get back to taking your meds.

      • dee

        Anthony Wicher: yet another genius.

  • art

    Obama is more sophisticated than fiddling He has consistently refused to back, protect or support our allies or friends. Obama has backed muslim extremists in libya tunisia, egypt syria and lebanon, Obama has been the champion of islamists He has recognized thr MB and will recognize hamas and hezzbouleh. Maliki has been a con man for years and we shold dump him

    • Tony Trenton

      Never forget that Obummer was educated as a Muslim during his formative years in Indonesia.

      He has an Islamic death sentence hanging over him for converting to another religion.

      Sacrificing Israel would earn him valuable Islamic point to abrogate his Death Sentence.

      Knowing this. It is easy to see his personal motivation.

  • Isaac Brajtman

    Who really is Obama ? What is his real agenda? Are the Americans not able to see what he is really about ?

    • Ron

      Yes, many of us Americans know exactly what Obama is all about. He’s a combination of Karl Marx, Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat and feeds off his own people and so-called progressives. He’s a viper that will go for your throat while you’re nog looking, and a Pied Piper being followed by rats. He’s a bigot, a liar, a narcissist and a hoax.

      And if it were not for American Jews who stuffed his political pockets with gobs of gelt and voted for him in outlandish numbers, we would have a president who’s a mensch instead of the thug we have installed in the oval office.

      G-d help us all.

    • Sonia Willats

      And Art and Anthony above. Hear, hear. So who is behind him? Is there any difference between the agendas of the Presidents when they get to the White House. Certainly, Obama’s style has been more arrogant than most. But it does appear to be one ongoing agenda. So WHO is behind it? Yes, he will, and has recognised Hamas, effectively.

  • Eric R.

    Obama is trying to create a worldwide crisis severe enought that he can claim emergency powers and crush all opposition. He knows that almost all media not owned by Rupert Murdoch are his propagandists and will support the crushing of democracy and the annihilation (even physically) of the Republican party. As for Murdoch and his media outlets; they will be shut down at the start of the state of emergency.