PROBABLY the name of John Gutzon Borglum won’t resonate with most readers, but he famously sculptured the heads of US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore.
   If there was room to hew other outstanding Commanders-in-Chief into the granite rock face of America’s National Monument, in South Dakota, popular opinion favors the additions of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman and Ronald Reagan.
   Wilson’s ending of American isolationism and intervening to break the bloody stalemate of the Great War deservedly earned him historical acclaim, while FDR’s astuteness that overcame the 1930s Depression and his steely resolve behind the Allies' victory in WW2 singled him out as a statesman of rare distinction.
   Later, Truman’s wisdom in recognizing post-war Western Europe needed rebuilding as a bulwark against the encroaching communist menace – implementing the Marshall Plan to do so – sealed his place in the pantheon of great US leaders of the 20th Century.
   Notably, too, the little haberdasher from Missouri stood firm against the pro-Arab State Department in his zeal for a Jewish homeland in Israel, stating in his memoirs, ‘The Jews needed some place where they could go. It is my attitude that the American government couldn't stand idly by while the victims [of] Hitler's madness are not allowed to build new lives.”
   Meanwhile, the oft-derided Reagan, who memorably characterized the Soviet Union ‘an evil empire’, broke the Cold War deadlock, ushering in the decline of Kremlin power (until Vladimir Putin’ quasi-dictatorship resurrected Russian ultra-nationalism).
   While US presidents’ wriggle room over domestic issues is often hamstrung by a hostile Congress, Wilson, FDR, Truman and Reagan used their latitude on the international stage to exercise strength and vision that created remarkable legacies.   
   Though the dusts of time have yet to settle before history delivers its verdict on Barack Hussein Obama, it’s doubtful the record will treat him as kindly.
   True, he was elected the nation’s first Afro-American leader – testimony, at least, in 2008 (and 2012) to what was then lauded as the USA’s multi-cultural maturity – on the back of his resounding ‘Yes, we can’ battle-cry.
   However, the hope Obama promised in his compelling oratory quickly dissipated into a litany of failures and gross misjudgments.
   On the homeland front, the much-touted Obamacare health program to aid the poor has hardly been an overwhelming success, the president’s attempts to revive the economy after the 2008 meltdown created the greatest debt-mountain in US history and, despite tears of sadness and frustration, he fired blanks in trying to curb gun sales.
   Worse, though, has been Obama’s self-inflicted humiliations abroad, beginning with his reckless Cairo speech in 2009, when he turned on traditional friends – Israel, in particular – and held out the hand of appeasement to the Arabs, only for them to spit in his palm.
   Naively, the egotistical president ignored this rebuff and set about implementing a perilous strategy to redraw the geopolitical map of the Middle East, where, as badly asymmetrical as the world’s worst neighborhood was, at least a measure of autocratic stability existed.
   Except the Obama doctrine was a riddle of contradictions.
   Following his peacenik instincts, he was deaf to liberal Iranians protesting their country’s Islamo-fascist dictatorship, yet, contrariwise, the President backed Egypt’s fanatical Muslim Brotherhood – the godfathers of terrorism – when people power overturned what the White House insisted was a democratic mandate, notwithstanding the nation becoming another hardline theocracy.
   Even after the Arab Spring mutated into an Islamic Winter, Obama blundered on with his ploy to coerce the Saudi-led Sunni alliance into accepting the expansionist hegemony of its arch rival, Shia Iran and its cut-throat vassals, Syria’s Assad and Team Jihadi of Hezbollah, Hamas and Iraq’s motley bigots, which begat ISIS.
   To compound this monumental folly – and disregarding UN ultimatums over 12 years for Tehran’s mad mullahs to fess up to their Armageddon agenda – the President also gave his nod to a deal, sanctioning Iran’s development of a ‘peaceful’ nuclear program and releasing $150-billion of frozen assets to fund it.
   Despite Israel branding this a ‘dangerous mistake’, a heady Obama claimed it as his finest hour, much as gullible British UK Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain did in his ‘Peace in our time’ speech, after Hitler ran rings round him in Munich, circa 1938.
   But, perhaps Obama’s fumbling on foreign fields – particularly battlefields – reached its zenith in 2012 when he solemnly vowed to punish Assad if he ‘crossed red lines’ and went on bombing civilians with chemical weapons.
   When the Butcher of Damascus continued his poisonous blitz, the Commander-in-Chief rowed back his threat, instead sub-contracting the job to a delighted Putin, who didn’t so much rein in Assad as boost the tyrant to the hilt with troops and a hi-tech arsenal.
   Today’s obliteration of Aleppo, then, bears traces of Obama’s fingerprints, just as his inertia gifted Russia a huge chunk of Ukraine in 2014 and inspired Putin to wrest control of the world stage.
   So, after eight years of his ‘lead-from-the-rear’ default setting, Obama’s messianic belief he could end all conflicts has morphed into a vision of a wobbly-kneed, accident-prone, push-over presidency, derided by every AK47-toting jihadi and his scheming paymaster. 
   Apart from mending fences with Cuba and ordering the demise of Osama bin Laden, perhaps Obama will be best remembered for trying to arm-twist Israel – the West’s only cast-iron ally in the Middle East – into an iniquitous accommodation with the fork-tongued Palestinians, who can do little wrong in the President’s estimation.
   And no world leader has been so consistently verbally abused by Obama more than Israeli premier, Bibi Netanyahu, which speaks volumes for this Commander-in-Chief’s grasp on the reality of Middle East matters.
   However, in the two-month ‘lame-duck’ period before President Trump assumes the Oval Office, Obama can still do the Jewish state serious harm, either by introducing a Security Council motion to halt settlements or back France’s half-baked notion for an international conference to force an Israel-Palestinian solution. 
   If Obama chooses either course, it will be the malicious last act of a failed, vindictive US leader. 

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