Has President Obama turned into Jimmy Carter? In May 1977, President Carter naively pronounced America “free of that inordinate fear of communism.” As Stanford professor of foreign policy and fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Institute of International Studies, Josef Joffe, wrote on August 5, “After the Soviet lunge into Afghanistan in December 1979, he noted wistfully: ‘This action…has made a more dramatic change in my own opinion of what the Soviets’ ultimate goals are than anything they’ve done in the previous time I’ve been in office.’
“It took Jimmy Carter only three years to grasp the cruel game of nations. And what it takes to be the ‘indispensable nation,’ a term coined by another Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Mr. Obama seems to have forgotten that he used exactly the same words a year ago: ‘America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs.’ There is no other.”
Yet, in his May 23 speech at the National Defense University in Washington, the president came perilously close to declaring, Bush style, “mission accomplished,” in the war of terror against Al-Qaida. With Osama bin Laden sleeping with the fishes and his centralized operations in shambles, President Obama basically said: It is time to declare victory and get on with our lives. He specifically said: “The scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11…. We have to make decisions based not on fear, but on hard-earned wisdom. That begins with understanding the current threat that we face.”
The thinking about terrorism in the United States can never revert to that predating September 11, 2001. If the Islamic sects have been fighting each other since the prophet Muhammad’s death 1,381 years ago, don’t think they won’t target the United States as the mother of all their troubles for another millennium. Franchise groups are sprouting from Europe and Africa to Southeast Asia, as al-Qaida is no longer centralized in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Arab Spring empowered these ad hoc groups, columnist Eugene Robinson noted, “across the region that share al-Qaida’s zeal for Islamist jihad and can mount deadly local attacks, such as in Benghazi. And individuals here can commit mayhem in the name of jihad, as we saw in Boston.”
President Obama acknowledged the new groups, but seems to underestimate their lethal capabilities: “Lethal yet less capable al-Qaida affiliates. Threats to diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad. Homegrown extremists. This is the future of terrorism. If dealt with smartly and proportionally, these threats need not rise to the level that we saw on the eve of 9/11…. A war on terror must endure forever because we will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings, not stamp out every danger to our open society.”
It is wrong to assume the new recruits will limit their attacks to embassies, consulates and suicide bombings. Los Angeles Times columnist Doyle McManus observed, “Outside its home territories, though, al-Qaida has failed to strike successfully in the United States or Europe since the 2005 bombing of the London underground – an eight-year slump. The organization still employs the man some officials call the world’s most dangerous terrorist, Saudi-born bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan Asiri – but Asiri’s plots haven’t worked so far. In 2009, his underwear bomber got as far as Detroit, but the detonator failed. U.S. officials say they still consider Asiri and his innovative bombs a major threat to aviation security. But note that this month’s alerts, [closing 19 embassies and consulates for more than a week in early August] based on intercepted communications between al-Qaida leaders in Yemen and Pakistan, [Good work NSA! Take that Edward Snowden.] didn’t focus on planes; they focused on embassies.”
Though the al-Qaida spin-offs may be returning to their pre-9/11 roots of attacking embassies, other outposts of foreign power in the Middle East and Africa, and striking military targets such as the U.S. destroyer Cole off Yemen in 2000, the jihadists will try to emulate Osama bin Laden’s spectacular attacks in the West. These fanatics will surely make future terrorists attacks that kill Americans both at home and abroad. If they’re insane enough to use portable nuclear weapons, they could destroy an American city – say Chicago, in our own back yard.
Obama cannot allow the United States, through defense cuts and reversion to pre-9/11 thinking, to become a “huge medium-power, like an XXL France,” leaving the playing field of Terror International to the likes of China, Russia, and Iran. Now we have a 2 1/2 year civil war in Syria that could consume the entire Middle East in a conflagration of unknown consequences. Dictator Bashar el-Assad is alleged, according to all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, to have used the poison gas, sarin, to route rebels in the Damascus suburbs on August 21. According to the Obama administration, Assad’s missiles killed 1,429 people, including more than 400 children.
However, it is important to remember Colin Powell’s reputation destroying 2003 United Nations’ speech demanding a strike against Saddam Hussein’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. After ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 58,000 American casualties and between four and six trillion taxpayer dollars, we are faced with a similar situation. Is Assad insane to the point of creating a permanent media display of this ghastly murder of his own people? Isn’t it possible the al-Qaida influenced rebels may have committed the atrocity in order to stampede us to support them? U.S. and Israeli intelligence suspect that “Syria’s opposition groups, such as the Syrian National Council, are really Islamist front organizations, funded by the Saudis and Gulf states and infiltrated by al-Qaida linked terrorists.” Wouldn’t supporting those folks be ironic?
War is a profitable enterprise for some. These influential money makers don’t want the U.S. standing idle at the sidelines of a potentially “hot” war, especially after pulling out of Iraq and winding down in Afghanistan. Have to maintain those profit margins, you know. The president must be absolutely certain he possesses correct information before committing a war-weary nation to another costly and apparently endless religious war in the Middle East.
British observer Daniel Johnson stressed the significance of Parliament’s Thursday, August 29, refusal to back Prime Minister David Cameron’s war policy, the first such defeat since 1782, as also a referendum on the American president’s leadership. Johnson wrote: “This abdication of leadership is apparent in the president’s naïve mishandling of the disintegration of the old order in the Middle East, in his failure to anticipate or respond adequately to the wave of Islamist extremism that has imperiled Western interests in the region, and above all in his arrogant treatment of America’s closest ally, Israel.”
The president is currently seeking Congress’s approval of his Do Not Remove Assad, Just Punish Him For Using Chemicals watered down two or three-day missile strike against the dictator’s forces. I believe Obama said months ago that Assad had crossed the “red line,” and he could strike without Congressional approval? This abrupt about face comes after 186 lawmakers from both houses and parties signed a letter last week calling on the president to seek congressional authorization for any military action. Most political and military leaders believe anything short of removing the Assad regime is absurd and will accomplish nothing beyond initiating extended violence – in the Middle East and, possibly, in the United States.
Obama also broadcast his military intentions worldwide. He should just as well announce the precise time and targets of attack. Unbelievably, this has given Assad ample time to scatter his troops and hardware to safer havens. This scenario is beyond ludicrous! Eisenhower, who managed to keep the largest invasion in history, D-Day, a secret from the Germans, must be spinning in his grave.
Obama needs to trash his Jimmy Carter impersonation, stop leading from behind, and assume the leadership mantle of Lincoln and FDR. Another decade long war is not the answer.