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A Legacy of Failed Leadership

06 Dec 2015, Washington, DC, USA --- United States President Barack Obama speaks to the nation during a live address from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, December 6, 2015. Photo Credit: Saul Loeb/CNP/AdMedia --- Image by © Saul Loeb/CNP/AdMedia/AdMedia/Corbis

When news spread that President Obama was planning to address the nation on Sunday night to discuss terrorism in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting as well as the recent Paris attacks, the assumption was that he understood that Americans needed to hear something different from him. Throughout the last two years as the threat from ISIS metastasized, the president had dismissed the idea that drastic action was needed. The terrorists were either insignificant (the “JV” team) or “contained.” Even after Paris, the president acted as if questions about whether ISIS’s ability to hold onto its caliphate and to expand its war into Europe more than a year after his promise to destroy them were insults that barely merited a response. After last week’s shock, surely the president had wised up and was ready to at least strike a different tone, even if he was unable to come up with a different strategy. But those who thought the president was capable of a course change were ignoring everything we’ve learned about him in the last seven years.

Others, like our Max Boot and Noah Rothman, have discussed some of the serious errors in policy that were once again on display in Obama’s Oval Office speech. It is clear that the president is wrongly sticking to a war strategy that has no chance of succeeding in bringing victory over ISIS. Just as bad, he is seeking to divert that nation’s attention from what is clearly a genuine crisis to a mythical concern over a wave of prejudice against American Muslims for which there is no evidence. But rather than just concentrate on highlighting his mistakes, at this crucial moment of history, it is also important for us to assess the president’s performance as a leader.

No war can be won or a crisis navigated without leadership. Regardless of the circumstances, all nations that must pass


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