May 8th, 2014
11:01 PM ET

Obama needs to lead with feeling

By Fareed Zakaria

Part of Obama’s problem is that he has made grand pronouncements on issues where he would not use American power forcefully, Syria and the Arab Spring being the clearest examples. Speech became the substitute for action — hence the charge of fecklessness. And on the issues where the United States has been engaged — Ukraine, Asia — his statements have been strangely muted. In his speech to European leaders on Ukraine, Obama struck most of the right notes but also offered caveats about not acting militarily. It is difficult to stir the world into action, and into following the United States, if the president is telling you what he would not do rather than what he would do.

But the broader problem is that critics want the moral and political satisfaction of a great global struggle. We all accuse Vladimir Putin of Cold War nostalgia, but Washington’s elites — politicians and intellectuals — miss the old days as well. They wish for the world in which the United States was utterly dominant over its friends, its foes were to be shunned entirely and the challenges were stark, moral and vital. Today’s world is messy and complicated. China is one of our biggest trading partners and our looming geopolitical rival. Russia is a surly spoiler, but it has a globalized middle class and has created ties in Europe. New regional players such as Turkey and Brazil have minds of their own and will not be easily bossed.

Read the Washington Post column


soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. ✠RZ✠

    Obama needs to lead with feeling.
    Obama needs to lead.
    Obama needs.

    May 9, 2014 at 12:13 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      RZ, are you insinuating that Obama has done poorly in leading this country out of the Bush war,among other things? You must be a fan of Sarah Palin. What Tea Party lingo!

      May 9, 2014 at 3:09 pm | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        "Obama needs to lead with feeling"! Really? He does the right thing by keeping a distance from the various political arenas, so that he can discern an overall picture from a mass of detail.
        It's true that "Obama has not made a major mistake", like Lyndon Johnson and Bush II, who will be remembered as war-mongers. Indeed, "he has done a skillful job steering the United States out of the muddy waters he inherited — Iraq, Afghanistan — and resisted plunging the country into another major conflict".
        In this respect, Fareed should have mentioned Dwight D. Eisenhower , who, as a former 5-star general and a Nato supreme commander, had a good instinct for war and peace. Obama seems to have studied Ike's foreign polices, dominated by the Cold War. Ike agreed to a truce in Korea in 1953. He guaranteed US protection for South Vietnam in 1954 and avoided to get involved in Indochina, by making up excuses – like consulting the Congress, talking to the allies etc. In 1956, Ike surprised Britain and France by refusing to back them in the Suez crisis. Unlike Nixon, his vice, who is remembered as a disgraced president, Ike's legacy is very positively assessed today. In fact Ike might have advised Nixon to get out of Vietnam sooner, and even warned him against being involved in the "Watergate", had he lived longer.
        Obama focuses also on social security provision. Unfortunately he doesn't receive support for renewing the infrastructure in the country, as Ike did. Obama is criticised for failing to condemn the NSA, as much as Ike for failing to publicly condemn Joseph McCarthy for his anti-communist 'witchhunt'. However, he worked behind the scenes to erode McCarthy's influence. Obama likewise prefers to operate and lead from behind. Ike had hoped to improve US-Soviet relations and negotiate a nuclear test ban treaty. But in 1960 the Soviets shot down an American U2 spy plane over their territory, which ended any hope of better relations. It looks as though there may not be any rapprochement between the US and Russia, as long as Putin stays in power. This may leave China to be the one to have the last laught. As the US is pivoting to Asia, so does Russia too. Fareed suggests, the US pivot shouldn't be a strategy to contain China.

        May 9, 2014 at 3:57 pm |
      • Gilbert

        I would have to agree with J. Von. because President Obama has kept our military from harms way when there is no need for it. Yes, do nothing China always gets the last laugh.

        May 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
      • ✠RZ✠

        You boy's feel perfectly free to go ahead and side with whichever party or patsy you like. But everyone knows Washington's become a big circus and the White House Fool is no ring master of back door politics. Though I don't doubt he has at least retained a couple of colourful clowns just for the purpose (hey Bubba and Hillary?). Any credit respectfully due Obama for barely holding it all together this far is still wide open to on going debates. We haven't yet seen how the whole story will actually unfold. If anything, Lady Luck, the tough decisions by foreign governments, and even the millions of voices being heard from here and around the world have likely played a much bigger role in how things have developed. The world is changing and even Mexico is resorting to the tactic of demobilizing vigilante movements to hopefully resolve some of it's own internal strife. Hold on to yer hats hombres we might just be in for a wild ride ahead.

        May 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
    • George Patton

      Joseph,this bozo,RZ, is a member of the old Tea Party movement and is trying to revive it. Such mumble jumble. He must love war very much since he is against the president who has been working to end our presence there.
      He must be a supporter of the Washington thugs too. Good grief,what a thug!

      May 9, 2014 at 3:14 pm | Reply
    • mikserg

      Sometimes the leader has to turn around and grab one of the followers by the collar when the follower wants to make a turn away. This is what Obama is doing now within the limits of American political system.

      May 12, 2014 at 3:23 am | Reply
  2. FriendsofIndia

    Fareed, Kudos, Jolly Good, Hooray, Bravo, Fatanstic,

    You have done it. Credit is due where it is. You have succeeded in persuading America in invading Ukraine and Russia. This will wipe out all the Russkies in Eurasian and pave the way for Pax Indica for a thousand years.

    India is the world's greatest democracy and its greatest super power. Incredible India will automatically resume world leadership after the invasion. With Russia melting, China imploding, and Brazil running into the ground, India is the undisputed leader of the BRIC countries. Here in Mumbai, there in Delhi, and there again in Pune, India shines while the world declines!

    As the world's greatest democracy and its only super duper power, India should join the US in this invasion, for this is the only chance that the invasion can ever succeed.

    On the one hand, the US has plenty of experience of invading other countries, with the skills honed in the invasion of Panama, Greennada, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, that India lacks. On the other, India has resources and ways and means to manage large dalit populations. We can send 100 million of our dalit armies, that completely negates all the population in Ukraine. Our dalit armies are known to be able to withstand burning heat in the deserts, and can live happily in this not so happy sanitation conditions in Ukraine.

    We can make all the Ukrainian girls to be married to our dalit soldiers, that will instantly solve our problem of too few girls, and at the same time all the next generation of them will be our content Indian dalits instead of Muslims who constantly stir up trouble. As for the rest of the Ukrainian men, they will either all be vaporized in their unholy and futile so called resistance, or that they can all migrate to Russia to co-habit with their fellow Russkies.

    This will completely change the geostrategic situation in Asia, it will make India the strongest nation in the world, and enhancing our world's greatest and largest and duperest super power status. And in fact, that should turn it around immediately to make the USA our vassal state because of our immediate control of the Indian Ocean (our ocean) to Suez Canal, and the oil and gas in between.

    Submit to your fate under our Hindu Colossus, beg our 5 rupee meal middle classes, bow to our super powers.

    Pray for India. Jai Hind!

    May 9, 2014 at 12:35 am | Reply
  3. Allan Kinsman

    I think America had it right when, if only the author, stated every individual had the right to life, liberty and to pursue happiness. Big countries with leaders with big agenga's have been the depots over thousands of years trying out their brand of dogma. Putin maybe a problem yes but because of the past twenty years of government mismanagement we can be outmanuvered by a old player from the old days. We have wasted resources on poorly managed wars, not watched the bank at home, borrowed money because we can't balance our checkbooks. Actually to be outmanuvered by a putin makes me think we certainly lost the greatest show on earth award. Politics in this country are distracted by money from the sound thinking they should be doing to apply more efficient methods at solving problems through a process of reason. All I see is children in a sandbox. Perhaps if the political mechanisms could find some leadership the world might again be interested again in how America can solve big problems. Right now it seems doubtful this will happen in the near future. They don't care about the big things like health care, good education and domestic policy. We have five percent of the worlds population and twenty five percent of the people in prison. Now, this must ring a bell with somebody? No one pays attention to people who produce bull instead of results.

    May 9, 2014 at 3:00 am | Reply
  4. No Mr.Obama - No Democrats

    Mr.Obama is a war hungry president, his warships were cruising in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and brought death and destruction to Syria, ... , he is acting with secret CIA undercover operations, and with secret weapons deals. ... No more Mr.Obama – no more demo.c.rats – EU does not want them anymore.

    May 9, 2014 at 6:02 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      This, I strongly agree with. Thank you, No Mr.Obama-No Democrats.

      May 9, 2014 at 9:53 am | Reply
  5. George Patton

    Good grief! Stay in Europe you Tea Partier.

    May 9, 2014 at 8:13 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      Hello, Phunnie boy. I can't say that I missed you. Regarding Obama, if this jerk had any true feelings, he would never use those ungodly drones to hurl 500 or so lb. bombs on defenseless people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Moreover, we need to stay out of Ukraine where we have absolutely no business whatsoever! Agree, Phunnie boy?

      May 9, 2014 at 9:07 am | Reply
      • George Patton

        Sorry folks,not me at 9:07. Some clown,obviously a fan of Sarah Palin,is trying to discredit me. What lingo!
        The United States must stand by the Ukranian people. We cannot turn a blind eye. As for our U.S. Navy and its air craft on U.S. carriers, let them make a quick visit to Russia bonjour and bombs away!

        May 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Well said George,thank you for such insight. I am sorry that some bozo keeps using your name. I will call CNN and ask that he be barred imediately since he refuses to abide by the TOS.
        It seems that just because he is the president of the Sarah Palin Club,he can say what he wants with other people's names. Disgraceful!

        May 9, 2014 at 1:01 pm |
  6. Joseph McCarthy

    George,well said. It's funny how Muslims are running parts of Europe in the street over there with their strict religious beliefs. Yet,that clown has the nerve to post a comment like that. The nerve!

    May 9, 2014 at 8:17 am | Reply
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    President Obama balances diplomacy and appropriate military actions very well. He also understands the importance of validating others' feelings before giving aid or advice.
    A nation cannot function well on "feelings" alone. The President does not attempt to lead us to that folly.
    I do not think that America should aspire to weakness, or to an abdication of importance. A person cannot train, or even cohabit with, a good Doberman by trying to con the dog with kisses, peace, and liverwurst. Once a strong dog is convinced that it will be protected, its leader has made a worthwhile and loving ally.

    May 9, 2014 at 8:29 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      Come on Joey, like I said above, there is no place on earth today where we need to take "appropriate military action". By sticking our noses into places where we don't belong, we made ourselves the most hated country on earth!!!

      May 9, 2014 at 9:11 am | Reply
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        Bonjour, @ George Patton.
        The USA "belongs" wherever our interests and well-being are at stake.

        May 9, 2014 at 10:06 am |
      • George Patton

        I'm sorry folks, I didn't post that stupid stupid remark above @ 9:11. Some joker is using my good name to discredit me. This clown must be a fan of Sarah Pain.
        The United States must get together with all its allies and obliterate Russia off the planet and how!
        As for my impersonater, he's got to go.
        It's as simple as that!

        May 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
  8. The ENTIRE GOP PLATFORM in a single paragraph

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    May 9, 2014 at 9:14 am | Reply
  9. chrissy

    OMG! @ George Patton i totally agree! Yea that surprises me also! And the same @ Alan Kinsman, except i pretty much always agree with you! As for this comment in the article " critics want the moral and political satisfaction of a great global struggle"...too damn bad what they want! And who are these "critics" anyway? Graham and McCain? Who gives a rats ass! We cant afford another war particularly when it has nothing to do with this country!

    May 9, 2014 at 10:02 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Would you like some garlic in that butter, Ma'am?

      May 9, 2014 at 10:19 am | Reply
      • George Patton

        You are polluting these threads with your constant stealing of names and posting of silly mumble jumble worthless Sarah Palin remarks. Why should others be subjected to you. Sir, you are nothing but a mere swine.
        I ask of you; I beg of you; I implore of you, stop your childish behavior at once!

        May 9, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
      • George Patton

        How dare you!

        May 9, 2014 at 1:38 pm |
    • George Patton

      I'm sorry chrissy,that is just some joker stealing my name and Joey's at 9:11, to get in his kicks. No one really wants to listen to his mumble jumble political regurgatation.
      This clown has got to go!

      May 9, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Reply
      • George Patton

        How sanctimonious of you,sir,using my name and then lecturing me on such behavior!
        The audicity!

        May 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
  10. chrissy

    And WHO is that comment being addressed to @ Joey?

    May 9, 2014 at 10:52 am | Reply
  11. chrissy

    If that was directed at me im afraid you have to be a little more specific!

    May 9, 2014 at 11:22 am | Reply
  12. The US Dept Of Defense

    The US DOD announces a new weapon available if hostile aliens try to take over the Earth. The DOD will allow Palin voters to "mind meld" with the aliens. The aliens' heads will immediately implode caused by the huge vacuum.

    May 9, 2014 at 11:36 am | Reply
  13. chrissy

    Thanks lol. I was beginning to question my judgement. Glad to know its still intact. And you really should stop embarressing yourself with that self ridicule crap! Its already well known that you and that derpasstroll are one and the same person!

    May 9, 2014 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  14. John Smith

    America is the root of all terror. America has invaded sixty countries since world war 2.
    In 1953 America overthrow Iran's democratic government Mohammad Mosaddegh and installed a brutal dictator Shah. America helped Shah of Iran to establish secret police and killed thousands of Iranian people.
    During Iran-Iraq war evil America supported Suddam Hossain and killed millions of Iranian people. In 1989, America, is the only country ever, shot down Iran's civilian air plane, killing 290 people.
    In 2003,America invaded Iraq and killed 1,000,000+ innocent Iraqi people and 4,000,000+ Iraqi people were displaced.
    Now America is a failed state with huge debt. Its debt will be 22 trillion by 2015.

    May 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm | Reply
  15. George Patton

    Good grief John,are you a fan of Sarah Palin? Nobody wants to hear your mumble jumble.
    The nerve!

    May 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  16. Joseph McCarthy

    Now George,I'll tell you what gets my goat. People like John Smith wrap themselves around the flag of the very country that provides security for him,yet he has the audacity to spew out such anti-American mumble jumble. I've had it with these Tea Partiers.

    May 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  17. Bledsoe

    George,Joseph, thank you two true blue Americans.
    You said it all!

    May 9, 2014 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  18. chrissy

    Lol good god! Its clear the 2 of you...oops excuse me the one of you, since youre the same person....dont recognise sarcasm when you see it! Or...youre just using it to mimic each other with your tea party crapola! And youre fooling no one!

    May 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Good Grief chrissy,are you a fan of Sarah Palin? Such Tea Party lingo. Nobody wants to listen to your mumble jumble.
      It's as simple as that.

      May 9, 2014 at 10:18 pm | Reply
  19. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Here goes this clown again, posting under all these names above including mine. As for Obama, he apparently has no true human feelings seeing how he continued with Bush's senseless wars abroad and the continued tortures of the political prisoners at Guantanamo and elsewhere!

    May 9, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Joey Isotta,are you a fan of Sarah Palin? What lingo. Nobody wants to hear such mumble jumble. Your comments got to go.
      It's as simple as that!

      May 9, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Reply
  20. chrissy

    Lol whatever you say @ faux Joey! Dont you have any kind of life?

    May 9, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  21. chrissy

    Funny thing about that@ George Patton, up until recently ive always thought of Sarah Palin as dumb as a post! But since you and your "alter ego" Joseph McCarthy keep spewling your garbage im beginning to think my preference would be to listen to her rather than your tired old same old...whether i agreed with her or not!

    May 10, 2014 at 6:13 am | Reply
  22. chrissy

    I dont think i would be so quick to call Obama a fool. He is but one man and has definitely had an uphill battle from day one. A lesser man wouldve given up long ago!!!

    May 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Reply
    • ✠RZ✠

      All correct chri§§y. I've never been terrified OF Obama, just terrified FOR him since day one. And yes, he got most seriously dumped on! And still is. But when he finally got around to realizing what he was up against, he did start to turn to "The People" for help. Sweartagawd we were finally gonna see some real SHTF! But nope, just more hopes dashed. Given the choice of "War or Bust" is a no brainer. But by the looks of things now, we're on the verge of both going to war and being flat busted at the same time. If not with Obama, then probably the next puppet president.

      May 10, 2014 at 10:44 pm | Reply
  23. chrissy

    I really dont think we are on the verge of going to war. Do you seriously believe that? We very well might have our very own revolution in THIS country though! People are getting quite fed up with how things are being handled and will soon get that point across one way or another! And im thimking that is going to be the only way they're going to be able too!

    May 11, 2014 at 9:40 am | Reply
    • ✠RZ✠

      What I believe is that there are now far too many existing hot spots on the geopolitical chess board coupled with unfathomable financial instability/uncertainty around the globe on top of domestic tension and unease throughout. That's all.

      May 11, 2014 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  24. chrissy

    Yep and its been that way forever! And whenever it starts to calm down in any given area, certain warmongering toads in DC start to stir the pot!

    May 11, 2014 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  25. chrissy

    Lol @ mikserk, besides needing term limits, an age cap, a mental evaluation, an IQ test on elected clowns such as Congress...we also need to enact a Code of Ethics on them as well! Not only are the stunting the USs growth but they are a total embarressment to us as well!

    May 12, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Reply

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