A supporters disappointment with Obama

By Nick Milano

As a Barack Obama supporter from the day I saw him light up a town hall in New Hampshire, his presidency has been hard to take. At times, he has shown glimpses of the promise that helped sweep him into office, but more often than not, his policies have been incredibly disappointing, especially for the young electorate which came out to support his campaign. He has obviously mishandled health care reform, and by ceding power over it to Congress, it is doubtful that it will even pass. He has mishandled the economy and Wall Street.

In our bathroom at our house we have an issue of Mother Jones from the time of his election whose headline reads: “Why the mess Obama inherits may be his greatest opportunity.” Well, there has been no economic regulation – how about that for squandering opportunities? Over the last week or so, two more missteps by his administration should further alienate his supporters, especially college students.

First, the House Foreign Affairs Committee voted by a one vote margin to pass a bill that declares the murder of millions of Armenians during World War I a genocide. Now, strictly relying upon Obama’s campaign speeches and campaign promises one would expect the administration to be strongly backing the resolution. Time and time again on the campaign trail, Obama said that he would characterize the incident as genocide. Genocide is an issue which motivates younger voters, and Obama’s outspokenness on Sudan and on Turkey were surely two of the reasons he attracted young voters. 

But like so many times before, Obama has chosen to ignore the voters and side with what many consider the smart international relations choice. As Turkey is an important ally whose air bases are used to move soldiers and supplies into Iraq, upsetting the Turks would not be a great idea. Thus, the administration as well as the State Department under Hillary Clinton immediately moved to block the vote from reaching the House floor. Another promise broken.

His second misstep over the last week cannot be directly tied to his administration, but a State Department spokesperson was curiously forced to retract attacks it made against Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. After Qaddafi’s son’s arrest in Switzerland for assault, Qaddafi made several mystifying and scary declarations, according to Foreign Policy magazine. First, he expelled Swiss diplomats from Libya, then he proposed to the UN General Assembly that Switzerland be abolished as a country, and third called any Muslim who worked with Switzerland an apostate, de facto declaring a jihad against the Swiss.

While it may be smart not to engage dictators who seem to have gone off the deep end, a spokesman for the State Department obviously criticized Qaddafi for his actions and statements. But the next day, he apologized and took his statements back in the name of thawing Libyan and American relations. The appeasement inclinations of this president have started to get a little too common. In a sense, Obama is keeping his campaign promises of starting a new conversation with the Muslim world, but these are times where such decisions have to be fully thought out. Dictators should not be allowed to make such disgusting statements, no matter how crazy they seem to be. The Obama administration is choosing kind words even at the hands of absolute madness.

The foreign policy decisions that go into deciding whether to attack a senseless dictator or whether to call a genocide by its real name surely have more to do than simply answering to an electorate. Regarding Turkey, there are still thousands and thousands of soldiers in Iraq, so it might not be the best time to alienate a crucial ally. President Bush is guilty of the same decision-making. He said while campaigning that he would declare the Armenian killings genocide, but did nothing.

In order for genocides to be recognized and prevented in the future, even today in Sudan, the world must acknowledge when they have happened in the past. Turkey’s mass murder of Armenians should not go unpunished. In regards to Qaddafi, sometimes it is best not to engage silly declarations like the ones he is guilty of making, but that does not mean criticism of him should be retracted. According to Foreign Policy, a new major poll shows Obama is losing ground among voters on national security. On the one hand, the president seems dedicated to adhering to his campaign promise of engaging the Muslim world – let us not get started on Iran, but on the other hand, he has abandoned the young voters who flocked to his campaign because of his willingness to clamp down on genocide. In both situations, Obama continues to disappoint.

Nick Milano is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]