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Fouad Ajami on America’s ‘Shrinking President’

This morning, William Bennett conducted a fascinating interview with Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami. During their conversation, Ajami spoke about the various Arab uprisings. He was also asked about President Obama and whether the president was being criticized too harshly for his weak stance during the Libyan revolution. Professor Ajami would have none of it.

“I would personally escalate the criticism of President Obama,” Ajami said. The president has become the “quiet American,” standing behind the British, the French, and even the Italians in condemning Qaddafi. There are options (like recognizing a new provisional government) that Obama could, but so far won’t, exercise. The president “doesn’t want his fingerprints on this story.” He has “outsourced his statements” to others. And this is not only a moral failure; it is a geopolitical one as well.

“Wouldn’t we want the moral credit and the gratitude of the Libyans in the future?” Ajami asks.

Standing with the Libyan people in their hour of need would benefit America’s standing in that nation and in the wider world. But we have as our commander in chief, Ajami speculates, a man who loves the adoration of the crowd but is unable to make the “strategic and moral choices on behalf of this great American republic.” And what we have gotten is not a leader but “almost like the shrinking president.”

The interview is quite insightful and, at least as it relates to our president, quite dispiriting.



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