President Obama, the apologist?

Obama has fared the worst by pushing the US to abandon the moral high ground

Mohamed Chebarro

Published: Updated:

President Barack Obama must be applauded for becoming the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima, the site of the US nuclear attack that brought the Second World War to a close. He also visited Vietnam, the third by a sitting president in the quagmire that killed 50,000 US soldiers in a pointless cold war confrontation with Russia and China.

I am sure a lot will be written about his presidency, but one description that stays in my mind is President Obama, the apologist?

After eight years in office as the first president of African-American origin, Obama has collected many titles and honors. He won Noble Prize for peace in the early days of his presidency. He was the first US president to visit Cuba, a longtime enemy of Washington.

Obama used all the tools at his command to sign, in his own words, a historic deal halting what is said to be a phantom Iranian nuclear weapons program. He chose to do so even though Tehran continues with slogans such as death to America, death to Israel and recently death to Saudi Arabia, the oldest US ally in the Arab Middle East.

Against the list of honors, a list of failures will stick to his name years after his departure. He failed the Palestinians and the Israelis as he failed to keep in motion the search for peace in one of the oldest conflicts that plagued the region and in time spilled over to the world in many forms and shapes of violence. He withdrew troops prematurely from Afghanistan and Iraq, and left both arenas open for Iranian sectarian intervention.

I wonder if President Obama will, 10 or 20 years from now, return to Syria to apologize for leaving alone Syrians who rebelled against Assad’s family rule and dictatorship

Mohamed Chebarro

Putin for Europe

Obama stood by and let the Europeans try to contain a more belligerent Putin in Russia. After taking a slice from Georgia, Putin’s Russia reclaimed Crimea and carved a Russian autonomous region from eastern Ukraine.

The list is long, but in the case of Syria, Obama’s doctrine and view of the world was most damaging. He chose to lead from behind, preferred multilateralism and UN-brokered political processes to end violence.

Five years on, and following the death of more than 300,000, 1.5 million injured and 12 million displaced, cities turned to rubble across Syria, President Obama continues to remain idle, fueling doubt over American military and moral authority.
Obama, the apologist, has fared the worst by pushing the US, under his leadership, to abandon the moral high ground that the US has long held especially in the post-WW2 world.

Failing Syrians

While Obama embarked on another tour that could only be labelled as apologetic in nature, he may have indirectly apologized for American nuclear bomb hitting Hiroshima and the Napalm that killed and maimed Vietnamese in a war of will between democratic and communist forces in Vietnam then.

I wonder if President Obama will, in 10 or 20 years from now, return to Syria to apologize for leaving alone Syrians who rebelled against Assad’s family rule and dictatorship. These Syrians yearned for freedom and democracy that the West and the US has been promoting and trying to export to the four corners of the earth. We were told it is the best tenet for our globalized, interconnected and capitalist world.

In the case of us mortals, yes, the first to apologize is the bravest – maybe the first to forgive is the strongest - possibly the first to forget is the happiest. But for a commander-in-chief of the strongest nation in the world to do that remains questionable.

In a utopian world I would applaud what President Obama is trying to achieve. But going back to planet earth, I am not sure this is the best course a president should pursue and make it his legacy.
Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London. He tweets @mochebaro.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.