CHILMARK, Mass. » Foreign policy crises have a way of intruding on President Barack Obama’s Martha’s Vineyard vacations.
Obama’s last three summer sojourns to this Massachusetts island have coincided with tumult primarily in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as elsewhere around the world.
In 2011, the president’s golf outings and beach time were interrupted by briefings and calls to foreign leaders as opposition fighters in Libya gained against the government of Moammar Gadhafi. After skipping vacation while running for re-election in 2012, Obama returned to Martha’s Vineyard in 2013 for a trip that coincided with the Egyptian military’s ouster of that country’s first democratically elected leader.
And this year, Obama is vacationing against the backdrop of U.S. airstrikes and political chaos in Iraq, along with tensions between Israel and Hamas and between Russia and Ukraine. The president spoke about the situation on the ground Monday afternoon from a podium set up at a house near his vacation rental and again at a Democratic fundraiser in a nearby town that night.
"We’re seeing around the world incredible challenges, many of them all coming to a head at the same time," he told donors gathered under a tent on an expansive lawn overlooking the water. But he said the crises underscore the degree to which "people are constantly interested in finding out how America can solve these problems."
Obama used the fundraiser to appeal for support in keeping Democrats in control of the Senate, singling out Supreme Court vacancies as one reason he needed to keep the chamber in his party’s hands.
Earlier Monday, Obama spoke with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
The White House said Obama and Poroshenko agreed that any Russian intervention in Ukraine without formal consent and authorization of that country’s government "would be unacceptable and a violation of international law."
As with past vacations, Obama has still found plenty of time to put work aside and enjoy the island. He’s already played two rounds of golf since arriving Saturday, and on Monday he headed to the beach with his family.
"As someone from Hawaii, that water is still a little cold," he told donors later that night.