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Obama's "deer-in-the-headlights" doctrine

Opinion: After two years in office, Obama learns that history waits for no one

Yet the Russia reset, plus some careful diplomacy with China, has helped coordinate more effective sanctions against Iran’s nuclear arms-seeking regime. For the first time ever, really, Iran’s economy is feeling the pinch.

But you allowed your desire to engage that regime to overwhelm America’s best instincts, providing only tepid support when the Green Movement rose to challenge the stolen reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

Sadly, this was a missed opportunity to make a statement that would have put the United States a lot further out in front of the wave of popular democracy that’s now sweeping the Middle East. Your miscues on Iran two summers ago, however, mean that, instead of viewing the United States as a potential source of inspiration, most seeking to dislodge Arab autocrats view Washington as willing to put the status quo above its own rhetoric: i.e., that democracy is a universal right.

The good news: It’s a big world, and there’s always the last gasp hope of all American presidents – the  Middle East “peace process” — to distract you from reality. For now, though, better to put U.S. power behind the right cause in Libya before it’s too late.

People in Libya — and in Bahrain and Jordan and even Saudi Arabia — don’t care much whether their demands for freedom are convenient for America. When they show the guts to make those demands publicly, if the United States lifts no finger to help, it fails morally and, eventually, it will fail politically too.