Some are saying that this matter with Syria and how the President has handled it is "incoherent," while others are saying it has been "humiliating".
In fact, a Democratic strategist says, "This has been one of the most humiliating episodes in Presidential history." He has asked to remain anonymous.
Now Vladimir Putin has stepped into the leadership vacuum created by our own President, and provided a "solution" to the Syrian problem. Our President is claiming that was his plan all along.
Syria's Assad says he will do as Putin has asked and turn over his chemical weapons to Putin and international authorities, but not because of any fear of Obama's threats.
In assuming his new role as "peace maker," Vladimir Putin has now written a column for the New York Times in which he gives America a lecture on morality and the sin of feeling we are an "exceptional" nation.
Is this the kind of humility God has called us to in II Chronicles 7:14?
Ron Fournier with the National Journal quotes a Democratic strategist, who asks to remain anonymous, as saying, "This has been one of the most humiliating episodes in Presidential history."
I can understand why a Democratic strategist would want to remain anonymous after making that statement.
Guy Benson at Town Hall says Fournier hasn't been terribly impressed with President Obama's careening and incomprehensible handling of the crisis in Syria.
Benson says, "In an unsparing review, Fournier concludes that Obama has demonstrated himself to be naive and isolated. Behold what 'smart power' hath wrought:"
"Naive about the levers of power: Where to start? Obama reversed course on congressional authorization at the last minute, after a private chat with his chief of staff, and to the surprise of his national security team--all in violation of presidential best practices. He then left the country on a quixotic trip to Russia, allowing misgivings to grow in Congress and the public before he could build a case for striking Syria. Boxed in, Obama seized upon a Russian proposal to put Syria's weapons in the hands of the international community. It's an impractical solution, a fig leaf. Either Obama trusts Russian President Vladimir Putin (a mistake) or he is a partner in deceit (an outrage). A Democratic strategist who works closely with the White House, and who requested anonymity to avoid political retribution, told me, "This has been one of the most humiliating episodes in presidential history." ... As he faced an international and constitutional crisis, Obama and his team were in a familiar state: isolated, insular, and alone."
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said yesterday, “Syria is placing its chemical weapons under international control because of Russia. The U.S. threats did not influence the decision."
He also said, “When we see the United States really wants stability in our region and stops threatening, striving to attack, and also ceases arms deliveries to terrorists, then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalized.”
He said Syria’s decision to cede control of its chemical weapons was the result of a Russian proposal, not the threat of U.S. military intervention. He says the US threats had no influence.
He added that his government would submit data on its chemical weapons stockpile one month after signing the agreement.
He said, “Syria will be sending an appeal to the U.N. and the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in a few days, which will have technical documents necessary to sign the agreement,”
The United Nations said it has already received documents from the Syrian government seeking to join the international convention banning chemical weapons.
While both Russia and Syria admit that chemical weapons were used, they both blame the rebels for using them. The United States says the rebels do not have the capabilities to deploy chemical weapons.
In any case, this event has amplified the glaring lack of leadership ability of our President.
Even many liberal writers can't avoid excoriating the president's Syria performance, averring that Obama "struck out" by getting "snookered," rendering his administration "dazed and confused." One cutting line: "To say that the Obama administration is freelancing when it comes to foreign policy is an insult to freelancers." Peggy Noonan said on Wednesday morning, Obama should have just "canceled last night's speech."
Former New York Times editor Bill Keller listed all the ways "Putin just ate Obama's lunch."
The public has mostly shrugged. So here we are. What's next?
President Obama has moved on, saying he now has "problems to fix" here at home, pretending he has "fixed" the Syrian problem.
Vladimir Putin has not moved on.
He has now written a column which The New York Times has published. In it he is warning Americans of the perils of believing we are an exceptional nation. He says both he and God think that is a bad idea.
He is also lecturing the US on foreign relations. He says, "It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Is it in America’s long-term interest? I doubt it. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan 'you’re either with us or against us'.”
Is the blind trying to lead the blind?
And he lectures America on exceptionalism, giving a homily on humility.
Somehow I have not pictured him as a profile of humility.
"It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," Putin wrote.
He says, "There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord's blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal."
Putin's remarks concluded a plea to Americans for caution in dealing with Syria, a Russian ally. He cited President Barack Obama's speech Tuesday night in which he asserted that American ideals and principles "are at stake in Syria" as he made his case against holding the Assad government accountable for a deadly chemical weapons attack near Damascus.
America desperately needs leadership.
Winston Churchill once said, "The nation will find it very hard to look up to leaders who are keeping their ear to the ground."
Politicians keep their ear to the ground always looking for cover, while actual leaders lead.
John Maxwell has said, "A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way." America's leadership is lacking on all three fronts.
While the President's failure to lead and Putin's lecturing America on morality is humiliating to many, this is not what God is talking about in Scripture.
What is true humility?
Harris Whittles, a writer for several NBC television shows and films including Toy Story, has coined a word---"Humblebrags" and has created a mini-industry around the word.
He told the Wall Street Journal that Facebook and Tweeter help people self promote---"We're all self promoters, broadcasting even our quasi-achievements to every friend and follower," he told them. And he says there is a "false humility" to these Tweets and posts. "It allows the offender to boast of his 'achievements' without any sense of shame or guilt."
He says, "What I hate about a humble brag is that people try to come off like they aren't bragging. It's people not being honest about their intention. Just tell us you are at an exclusive party. Don't hide it behind a complaint about your dress not fitting."
No one is more obsessed with self promotion than politicians. Some of us non-politicians are not so-far behind. We seem to believe that if we mask it behind piety or a complaint of some kind it will remain hidden.
It won't. I don't know Putin's heart, but discernment is telling me he is using a homily on humility to self promote.
II Chronicles 7:14 says, "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
This is a very different kind of act. It involves neither self effacing or public demonstration. The Pharisees did that.
The humility spoken of in the II Chronicles 7:14 is more about God than one's self. It's about humbling one's self, not being humbled by another. It's about a contrite heart that is focused on God not on the virtue of the act its self.
C.S. Lewis said, "Humility isn't about thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less."
Biblical humility does not lead an American to conform to the secular idea that America is not an exceptional nation, birthed for eternal purposes, founded to truly be a "city on a hill."
Recognizing the exceptionalism of this country in its true context is not pride, it is affirming that God has a plan for individuals and for nations. God's blessing has followed in America because of our God appointed destiny to share the gospel with the world, to heal the sick and mend the broken in body and spirit.
Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.