If he were leading a discussion class on Syria, warfare, and the last twenty years of American policy, I would give Professor Obama high marks.
It is impossible for anyone in class to guess his position or views: he has defended many of them.
He has eloquently argued for peace in his time, war in another time, and allowed everyone in the class to participate in the dialog.
We are arming rebels who use our arms to kill Christians in Syria and other religious minorities. We want them to win their war, but not to govern Syria. Simultaneously, the US government condemns Assad for his butchery and hopes he can be trusted to do as he says if he agrees to give up his weapons.
We will trust and leave it to our enemy’s allies to verify.
If we have the confidence that students have in a good teacher, we would know there was wisdom under the surface, but Professor Obama was just giving us the chance to find it for ourselves. If America is lucky, perhaps some kid in the other class, say Mr. Putin, will figure out what the Professor can claim was his idea all along!
While he might be in trouble in the school of the future, a place like HBU where innovation, liberty, and leadership are valued, he would be the ideal professor for a government school. He is well liked, personable, and knows how to appeal to the opinions of the tenured faculty. The old style academic institution reacts, sometimes with blazing speed, to threats, but resents leadership.
Professor Obama would rather dialog than decide. After all, talking while doing nothing, respecting other points of view while ignoring them in practice, is the best way to keep alum, faculty, and students quiet.
And the kids like him. The professor in chief gets high marks for being witty. When a rival for the Presidency, pointed to Putin as our chief geopolitical foe, the Professor in the White House quipped that the “eighties want their foreign policy back.” The kids eat that kind of thing up and have voted him most popular twice.
In short, during his career in academia, Professor Obama has rarely faced an opponent he could not overmaster intellectually, overwhelm rhetorically, or ignore majestically. During his time in the American faculty senate, he rightly saw that most debates were a waste of time and moved as quickly as possible into administration. He knows the kids’ television, plays their sports, and relates well to their social concerns.
The alum were worried, but the younger generation had their way: President Obama was triumphant.
And now he is forced to deal with Vlad Putin. LIke many academics when faced with a threat to tenure, he has become obsessed, seeing Putin everywhere.
Putin is not an academic, but he is smart. Putin doesn’t split the difference, but acts for Russian power and prestige, which is in his mind the prestige of Putin. He is the shorter man, but he is the harder man. Professor Obama is no innocent abroad, he is an academic abroad, and that has served him well. The global University class is often more like each other than the citizens of their home nations.
But Putin is no academic, Putin is a former KGB officer, a brown shirt, and foe of liberty, but he is not teaching a class, he is ruling a nation.
President Obama simply does not know how to handle him.
Putin lies, misuses his sources, and his Univeristy puts up with it. He has regressive dorm policies, refuses to appoint a diversity provost, but his power grows. Make no mistake: Putin has schooled Obama through the Syrian crisis.
Obama thought about what to do. Putin supported his client state. Obama handed out a syllabus that said, “chemical weapons cheating will not be tolerated,” but Assad ignored him, confident that Putin did not care what grade Obama gave him. And now we must trust, though we will not be able to verify, that one of the worst men in the world will give one of the other bad guys weapons the first guy helped him get.
American was going to attack Syria, but not until we voted on it, and then maybe. Now we might attack Syria, but only if the UN, where Russia has blocked even the smallest condemnation of the Syrian government, tells us Putin and Assad have done the right thing. While President Obama looks for the smartest kids in class to tell him what to do, where is Mrs. Clinton? Putin mocks him, rattles him, and has finally gotten into the professor’s head.
For the first time since the Cold War, we are reacting to the Russians instead of the Russians reacting to us. They don’t have our power, but they do have a policy. We have the power, but like all “thoughtful people” do not wish to rush to a policy.
Meanwhile, Christians and other religious minorities in Syria are butchered and the blood of these martyrs cries from the earth for justice. A food kitchen supported by my Houston church is in peril, nuns are threatened, and ancient communities are destroyed. It takes a great deal to foul up a region like the Middle East in unprecedented ways, but any academic knows administrators can do it.
When the time to act arrives, they will study. And President Obama is secure with a four year tenure in office and so grades himself on a curve, not realizing that more of us everyday want out of his class. Pity poor Mrs. Clinton, the other academic that wanted the White House in 2008. By the time she runs again, the American people will be looking for a leader, not a lecture.
We will be looking for a Reagan, a Roosevelt, a Lincoln: an American who knows he is governing a nation of fellow citizens, not educating the world in the brilliance of the professor in the White House.