Note from Senior Management: Sir Max Hastings is one of the foremost journalists, war correspondents, and military historians of our time. A former Executive Editor of the Daily Telegraph, he is the author of over 25 books including Bomber Command; Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy; and Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord. In commemoration of the Allied landings at Normandy, we excerpt his analysis of our current Commander-in-Chief that appeared in today’s Daily Mail of London.
Of course it is a challenge for any modern national leader, to stand tomorrow on the beaches of Normandy and recall the greatest days and martial triumphs of World War II.
The comparison is obvious and embarrassing, between the giants and the pygmies: Churchill and Cameron, Hollande and de Gaulle, above all Franklin Roosevelt and Barack Obama.
In 2014, at least Britain’s prime minister and France’s president must bear responsibility only for their own countries.
But the President of the United States is the standard-bearer for the global cause of freedom, commander-in-chief of the principal might of the forces of democracy.
This week, however, at the D-Day Commemoration, America’s representative will be a man who has disappointed his nation and its allies as have few presidents in modern times.
From the moment of his first inauguration in January 2009, he was expected to be a healer rather than a warrior. But nobody, not even his foremost Republican foes, believed that halfway through his second term of office, Obama would be giving the world a convincing impersonation of a marshmallow.
That is nonetheless where we have got to, with the black comedy of his Administration’s exchange of five top-rank Taliban prisoners for an alleged ‘Afghan war hero’, who now appears to have been a deserter whose comrades despised him.
It is suggested by one officer that in 2009 some American soldiers were killed in vain pursuit of then Private Bowe Bergdahl, after he went walkabout one night from his post in the south-eastern mountains, leaving his belongings neatly piled behind him.
Bergdahl’s story has been compared to the great TV drama series Homeland, starring Damian Lewis, which featured a Marine sergeant hailed as a hero after returning from Al Qaeda captivity, who proves to have been turned into a would-be suicide bomber.
But what matters in this huge American political story is not how mad or bad Bergdahl — since promoted to Sergeant — may have been, but what possessed Obama first to create the deplorable precedent of exchanging him for a row of Taliban heavy-hitters held at Guantanamo Bay; and then to welcome home this young man as an alleged hero, before discovering that many of the men who served with him believed he deserved to be shot.
Read the rest of the article at The Daily Mail.