Saturday, September 28, 2013

President Obama, Great Statesman, Pulls off Two Diplomatic Feats; Syria and Iran

President Obama is such a great statesman and world leader, with an unerring instinct for diplomacy. First he managed, without firing a shot, to get Assad and Putin to the negotiating table, and to prompt a UN Security Council resolution to coerce Assad to give up all his chemical weapons. 

The resolution was passed on Thursday, having been put together by the five permanent members of the Security Council; the US, Britain, France, Russia and China. The ten non-permanent members (Australia, Azerbaidjan, Argentine, South Korea, Morocco, Luxemborg, Togo, Rwanda, Guatamela and Pakistan) signed on Friday. Action to investigate Assad’s arsenal of chemical weapons begins on Tuesday. The deal was put together in a couple of weeks, pointing to how desperate everybody was for some kind of solution to Assad’s use of sarin gas; Russia and China included. Putin certainly didn’t know how to back down from his obdurate position, caught between a rock and hard place. 

But no leaders had the gutzpah to step out, especially in the face of Putin’s continued veto and western voters’ apathy about Syrians being slaughtered by Assad’s regime and the threat of chemical weapons usage becoming an accepted norm. 

No leader that is, except for Barack Obama. For him, what Assad did wasn’t acceptable. So he acted, despite massive resistance at home and no support from the international community. What a great man. He didn’t just act, he acted brilliantly and succeeded. International coup – as in triumph, feat, accomplishment, achievement, scoop, master stroke, stroke of genius – number one.

Then yesterday he made a phone call to President Rouhani who was on his way to the airport. Rouhani had refused a meeting with Obama and the opportunity to shake hands. But Obama called him anyway. And Rouhani took the call. For the first time in thirty-four years the US and Iranian leaders spoke, both against the will of hardliners at home. It gave Rouhani what he needed to take back to his electorate who voted him in because he’s a moderate and they want an end to sanctions and bad relations with the US. 

Obama pulled off a second international coup. And let's not forget that he did it whilst also dealing with his own hardliners at home, a disintegrating Congress and the threat of a government shutdown. 

He doesn’t have as much support as he deserves at home. He deserves to be celebrated and lauded. The saddest and most aggravating aspect of his term in office is that prejudices that have nothing to do with politics still run deep in the US and prevent too many from seeing the reality of who he is and what he’s achieving. 

But some see it. And history will judge him as one of the greatest ever US presidents and world leaders. Because that’s what he is.