It is simple for journalist and columnist to write critical essays about our President’s foreign policy. However, it is occasionally important and necessary to explain that we are all on the same team and that we merely differ in our paths to the goal. Their must be deeper consideration for the complicated and often misunderstood process of how our sovereign leaders must navigate the treacherous foreign waters abroad. It’s obvious from the statements released by the Whitehouse regarding Poland’s recent tragedy that President Obama is very mindful of how delicate and sensitive this situation has become. We must look through a broader lens of what President Obama inherited once he began his presidency on Januay 20, 20009.
Few Presidents have ever faced such extraordinary challenges – on day one! To enter office with an unprecedented global economic crisis, multiple hot wars and a resilient transnational threat focused on bringing our way of life to a cataclysmic end is nothing short of legendary. Yes, past Presidents have faced wars and economic downturns, but few, if any, have ever faced the converging of all of these events simultaneously on your first day in office. Even Roosevelt on his first day was afforded the opportunity to first change the economic course of the United States before being forced into the war to end all wars – well – so he thought at the time.
The historical convergence of a global economic crisis in the midst of multiple long duration military campaigns is a deck of cards on day one few men would wish upon any President. However, these are the challenges that face the current administration. They are in fact just the facts and they are intertwined. In the end it is the economic engine of this country that drives our capacity to engage and help our fellow citizens of the world. It is our economic engine that provides the means for the United States to field maintain and deploy the greatest all volunteer military in the world. It is within this interconnected web of the economy, war, vice and virtue that we may well find our greatest national security threat.
Global military operations since 2001 have been vital in disrupting and dismantling state and non-state actors and transnational extremists. These operations directly protect our way of life and our enduring economic interests at home and abroad. Conversely these military operations are only possible because of the economic engine of the United States. To sustain one you must sustain the other. The President’s enduring concentration of effort to disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat global extremist organizations is absolutely essential. Of equal import are the President’s enduring economic initiatives that feed the engine that allows us to continue to play a central role in the world. We find ourselves at an interesting juncture in history when the challenges in number, complexity, gravity and speed bear no parallel to a past time. The situation is further compounded by an unrivaled level of interconnectedness that is brilliantly bold one moment and in the next breath deceptively subtle.
Another convergence of these two themes is the importance of maintaining world peace through military deterrence and sometime war fighting for the purpose of expanding U.S markets abroad. A corollary to open markets would be maintaining open lanes of transportation and communication. An example of which would be Somali Pirates and Cyber attacks. For commerce to flourish we must have unencumbered Internet communication and open sea lanes, so goods and ideas can pass freely anywhere in the world.
The efforts to strengthen our economy on the one hand and not destroy it by excessive deficits go hand in hand with a strong military presence, which benefits the United States and the free world as well.
The complexity of our foreign engagements should give all Americans a better appreciation and respect for what any president must manage and lead in these perilous times. This certainly, after many conversations with top military brass over the last week has given me a new profound respect and appreciation for President Obama and his administration. We should all hold out hope that the best is still yet to come from our young leader as we face a time in our history that will determine the future of the lone super power in the world.