The dark irony of that Nobel Prize is all too apparent right now.
I never thought it was a good idea to give Barack Obama a Nobel Prize for not much more than being a breath of fresh air, but it isn’t like the Nobel Prize committee consults me on those things. To read the line, “Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play.” against the roiling backdrop of the world a mere five years later is to taste a sharply bitter vintage of irony. This is not to say that I have a better plan or that I think the Obama Administration has made any particularly egregious missteps; while many have criticized times when the President has seemed too cautious, I have seen these moments as prudent. My favorite uncle was a decorated Chicago Police Officer who died wearing his uniform; he used to say, “when you don’t know what to do, don’t do anything at all.” When one considers that the ISIS forces now invading Iraq are part of the forces opposing Assad in Syria, one must recall the hasty voices that urged the President to arm those Syrian rebels are now calling for the US to immediately recommit ground forces to expel ISIS from Iraq; if these folks had gotten their way, our troops would be fighting an Islamic army armed with American equipment. Still, the problem with this approach is that it feels like we are passively watching the world burn and crumble; even if the most prudent thing to do is wait and watch we do not want to become petrified in that pose.
Also, just in case things weren’t tense enough, Ebola is winning.