October 14, 2012
By Peter Brookes
After Team Obama’s horrid handling of the terrible tragedy in Benghazi, does anyone out there really cling to the left’s quickly unraveling yarn that this administration has a strong record on foreign policy and national security?
Sure, the prez and veep continue to chant the mantra that “Osama bin Laden is dead” — and, without a doubt, that’s a good thing. Problem is: al Qaeda is very much alive.
Indeed, the US intelligence community told us that the “demonstrators” who murdered four Americans last month in Libya are a pro-al Qaeda group, likely associated with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
But the al Qaeda threat is increasing elsewhere in Africa, too, in places like Mali and Nigeria. And in the Middle East, it’s making a comeback in Iraq and running rampant next door in Syria, which is becoming “Islamist Central.”
Al Qaeda is just part of the problem in Syria: After nearly 20 months of US passivity in that nation’s civil war, the death toll now tops 30,000. And “Basher” Assad, no friend of ours, is still running the place.
Meanwhile, there’s Syria’s ally, the Islamic Republic of Isotopes, er, Iran. After four years of Obama-plomacy, the ayatollahs are closer to their atomic aspirations than ever — despite the “hope” they’d “change” their course on nukes.
Today, they have thousands of centrifuges spinning, putting Tehran on the path to being able to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels. They’re working on a nuclear warhead — and an intercontinental ballistic missile to put it on, too.
Let’s not even get into the Middle East peace process.
And the Arab Spring now looks more like the Islamist Spring. Where are all those pro-US, secular democracies that were going to spring up? President Obama talks about “bumps in the road,” but this street seems to be all bumps — like losing Egypt as an ally.
Yemen, the home of perhaps al Qaeda’s most dangerous wing, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has gone from having a lousy government to having basically no government at all. AQAP actually holds territory in the southern part of the country — and has us dead-center in their crosshairs.
And Afghanistan is worrisome, too. With Team Obama leading the charge for the exit in 2014, expect the Taliban and al Qaeda to seize territory, and the next Afghan civil war to break out.
The record elsewhere ain’t much, either.
On Russia, Team Obama’s policy has gone from “reset” to “regret.” Remember Obama’s open-mike moment, when he told Russia’s then-president that he’d have more flexibility after the election?
The question is: For what? He’d already scuttled the Bush-era missile-defense program in Eastern Europe (aimed at Iran) due to Russia’s objections — and then he gave Moscow a sweetheart deal with the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
In Asia, China is throwing around its weight, especially in the South China Sea. Team Obama is promising a Pacific “pivot” to counter China’s rise, but with $500 billion to $1 trillion in defense cuts coming, it’s hard to see what’s going to be left to pivot, aside from rhetoric.
And on the home front, there’s been a long series of Team Obama leaks of sensitive information on operations from the bin Laden killing to cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear program, as well as how we foiled the Underwear Bomber II plot.
Such “ball-spiking” needlessly puts brave Americans (and our partners ) in harm’s way.
When he took office almost four years ago, President Obama promised us that he’d improve America’s position in the world, starting with his Global Apology Tour.
Sadly, he’s delivered pretty much the exact opposite — and hasn’t given us a hint of what he’d do to reverse the decline. That’s a big problem not only for us, but for our allies and friends, too.
Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
First appeared in New York Post.
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
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