There are times when I just have to ask, if this is success, what is failure? And so it goes with the current state of affairs in the Middle East — a far more volatile and incendiary region then it was even a couple years ago. White House spokesperson Josh Earnest says the strategy is working.
But now it’s not just those of us on the right who are questioning that assertion. As reported by Politico, “Barack Obama faces a slew of Middle East crises that some call the worst in a generation, as new chaos from Yemen to Iraq — along with deteriorating U.S.-Israeli relations — is confounding the president’s efforts to stabilize the region and strike a nuclear deal with Iran.”
“The meltdown has Obama officials defending their management of a region that some call impossible to control, even as critics say U.S. policies there are partly to blame for the spreading anarchy. “If there’s one lesson this administration has learned, from President Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech through the Arab Spring, it’s that when it comes to this region, nothing happens in a linear way — and precious little is actually about us, which is a hard reality to accept,” said a senior State Department official. Not everyone is so forgiving. “We’re in a goddamn free fall here,” said James Jeffrey, who served as Obama’s ambassador to Iraq and was a top national security aide in the George W. Bush White House.”
Just to reaffirm, I’m pleased to see more engagement by Middle East nations in their security environment — especially Saudi Arabia. However, I am concerned about our lack of credibility and regard which is diminishing relations with allies and has emboldened enemies. This is the result of believing national security is nothing more than a subset of campaign rhetoric — failing to recognize that your enemy has a vote.
If there’s one thing we lack in America, it’s a coherent foreign policy and national security strategy that’s not partisan and can be a part of a continuum, not a restart every four to eight years. This creates gaps by which our Republic can be exploited and so it is at this current stage. The next president will walk into a White House without much time for discovery learning. Heck, he or she may want to skip the pomp, and get right to the circumstance.
Case in point in this perplexing turn of events in the last two weeks, “For years, members of the Obama team have grappled with the chaotic aftermath of the Arab Spring. But of late they have been repeatedly caught off-guard, raising new questions about America’s ability to manage the dangerous region. Obama officials were surprised earlier this month, for instance, when the Iraqi government joined with Iranian-backed militias to mount a sudden offensive aimed at freeing the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.”
“Nor did they foresee the swift rise of the Iranian-backed rebels who toppled Yemen’s U.S.-friendly government and disrupted a crucial U.S. counterterrorism mission against al-Qaida there. Both situations took dramatic new turns this week. The U.S. announced its support for a Saudi-led coalition of 10 Sunni Arab nations that began bombing the Houthis, while Egypt threatened to send ground troops — a move that could initiate the worst intra-Arab war in decades.”
Now, this is just one region. We also have a growing security threat in the Maghreb of Africa over to the Horn. There is great cause for concern with Russia who recently threatened Denmark. And quietly we have lost sight of Chinese regional hegemonic designs. This is not about any imperialistic goals and objectives — it is about maintaining peace through strength in a Machiavellian era of despots, dictators, theocrats, and autocrats — not to mention non-state Islamists. All this at a time when we’re rolling back our military capacity and capability. We need a long-term vision for security, stability and peace.
How confused is the situation? “The U.S. is in the strange position of fighting ISIL alongside Iran at the same time it backs the Sunni campaign against Iran’s allies in Yemen — even as Secretary of State John Kerry hopes to seal a nuclear deal with Iran in Switzerland within days.” It reminds me of the Abbott and Costello “who’s on first” comedy skit — except this is no laughing matter.
This week we had two more ISIS wannabes in Illinois and we’re doing nothing to delegitimize this ideology. And in two months, those five senior Taliban leaders are free to depart Qatar — I don’t think they are going to Disneyland.
If there is one thing that should unite America, it should be the desire to survive and defeat this vile, savage, and barbaric enemy we face. The collusion of adversaries gathering today far exceeds that of the Axis powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan. I pray we will not require another catastrophic event to cause us to rally.