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Obama: neither feckless nor reckless

Published:Monday | March 19, 2012 | 12:00 AM

No matter where in the world politicians are, they all seem to speak the same language - one in which their political aspirations sometimes supersede common sense and the common good.

I have high regard for United States President Barack Obama. Of course, there is some pride in his racial lineage and some excitement in the fact that the American people elected an African-American to the highest office in the land.

However, more important, I have a great deal of admiration for his genuine ideals for the good of his country and the entire world community.

For those reasons, I have not been able to watch Fox News since just before the last presidential elections. Its unending, unswerving derision of anything Obama is blatant, pointless and insults the intelligence of its viewers. And, I am always stunned by the ferocity and silliness of the unfair attacks that several factions launch at the president.

The most recent attack came from former governor of Massa-chusetts, leading candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination, Mitt Romney.

In a March 5 Washing-ton Post op-ed titled 'How I would check Iran's nuclear ambition', he slugged away at the president for his handling of the unfolding Iran crisis. He is quoted as dubbing Barack Obama "America's most feckless president since Carter".

He drew an unfair parallel between the current Iranian situation and the Iranian (diplomatic) hostage crisis in 1979 wherein a group of Islamic students and militant revolutionaries held 52 Americans hostage in the US Embassy in Tehran for a total of 444 days. As commander-in-chief at that time, US President Jimmy Carter issued condemnatory statements, attempted to negotiate their release and authorised Operation Eagle Claw - a rescue attempt that unfortunately failed and resulted in the destruction of two aircraft and the demise of eight US servicemen and one Iranian civilian.

That crisis ended with the signing of the Algiers' Accord (in Algeria on January 19, 1981). The hostages were released on January 20, 1981, minutes after President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office. Remember, Algeria is six hours ahead of the US.

In his op-ed, Romney chooses to deduce that Reagan's previous campaign rhetoric - that Iran would pay "a very stiff price" for its criminal behaviour - secured the hostage release.

Dangerous cowboy politics

In this modern world, unified by an intermixing of the cultures, interbreeding of the races, interdependence of economies, new-age religious tolerance, instant communication and jet-speed travel, old-style cowboy politics can be disastrous - especially in international matters.

President Obama has assured the Israeli government of US support and protection. Because the security of the entire world is at stake, he has not ruled out a military solution to the crisis should all else fail.

In keeping with the mandates of level-headedness, he has enlisted the help of international organisations and international partners to sanction Iran.

I maintain serious misgivings about why, when and how the US entered into war with Iraq during the presidency of George W. Bush. It cost about 4,400 American lives, between 110,000 and 115,000 Iraqi civilian lives, uncounted permanently impaired and/or disabled human beings and about US$1 trillion (for the war and for enhanced security because of the war).

In the op-ed, musing on his role as US president, Mr Romney promises, "I will take every measure necessary." And, he further states, "Most important, I will buttress my diplomacy with a military option ... ."

It would indeed be feckless (weak, ineffective, worthless) of any American president to do absolutely nothing as Iran attempts to acquire nuclear arsenal. But, it would be reckless (careless, irresponsible) of any American president to make empty threats or to carry out premature attacks on any nation. Barack Obama has never been any of those.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.