Under nominasjonskampen i 2008 pleide Hillary Clinton å terge Obama ved å spørre hva han ville gjøre når den røde telefonen ringer midt på natten. Dvs. hva hans respons ville være på en helt uventet og dramatisk begivenhet. Underforstått: han hadde ikke erfaring.
Drapet på den amerikanske ambassadøren i Libya og tre av hans medarbeidere kan være et slikt øyeblikk, og Obama må vise handlekraft, hvis han ikke skal fremstå som en ny Jimmy Carter, skriver Con Coughlin i Telegraph.
Ever since Mr Obama entered the White House he has tried to position himself as a politician who has no interest in getting involved in overseas conflicts. Having withdrawn American forces from Iraq and ordered the withdrawal of US combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, he has tried to appease his Democrat supporters by making sure that he steered well clear of involvement in any of the world’s other trouble spots.
On crucial security issues such as Iran, Libya and Syria he has deliberately taken a back seat, rather than providing the strong and effective leadership the world has come to expect from a major superpower. As a result a dangerous power vacuum has been created with those, such as the group responsible for the well-planned attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, believing they can act with impunity.
But with the American presidential election only two months away, the murder of four American diplomats could be a game changer so far as Mr Obama’s re-election prospects are concerned.
During the 2008 contest Hillary Clinton, Mr Obama’s main rival for the Democratic nomination, used to tease him about the «red telephone moment», when the president is awoken in the middle of the night to deal with an international crisis. Mr Obama would have received that call last night and how he responds to it could ultimately decide the outcome of the election.