There has never been a time when America had more enemies. Nor has there been a time when we were more vulnerable to our enemies, a fact that explains why even Obama supporters are beginning to express concerns about the manifest weakness of his foreign policy. For example, events in Iraq show that President Obama was either naïve or recklessly negligent in how he handled withdrawing our military from that conflict. Let me be clear on this. Our troops had to come home from Iraq sometime, but how that eventuality was handled would determine what happened next. America’s disengagement from Iraq was handled badly and, as a result, what happened next is the bloody chaos seen on the news every night.
Showing our hand to the enemy in advance was not a good idea, nor was refusing to fight to win in Iraq in the first place. If we learned anything from Viet Nam, it was supposed to be this: Don’t get involved in a war unless you are willing to do what is necessary to win it. Another principle any person serving as commander-in-chief should know intuitively is: don’t tell the enemy what you are going to do. In announcing the timetable for our withdrawal from Iraq, President Obama was like a man playing poker with all of his cards showing face up. And speaking of lessons from Viet Nam, how about the lesson that says get your embassy personnel out before it is too late.
The president’s approach to disengagement from Iraq raises a serious question. As good as it is to have our troops out of Iraq, if the president planned to handle our exit from that embattled country in a way that virtually ensured a terrorist takeover why didn’t he simply bring our troops home the day after his inauguration in 2009? When Iraq’s U.S. backed government falls to radical Sunnis, what happens to the legacy of our troops who were maimed or killed in that deadly conflict? To what end did they sacrifice so much? Let me be clear, I am not picking only on President Obama here. I think he and President Bush both should have handled this war differently. From the outset we failed to prosecute the war in a way that would allow us to win it.
No matter who the president is—Republican or Democrat—we should never put troops in harm’s way unless we are willing to do everything necessary to empower them to win, and the American public never supported this war sufficiently to allow that to happen. This fact is why I have long thought that our troops should have been brought home from Iraq the day after Saddam Hussein was put to death. The clash between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq was never going to be resolved by America’s presence there unless we were willing to be as ruthless in suppressing them as Saddam Hussein had been, and that was never a possibility. The sad truth is that the people of Iraq—Sunnis and Shiites alike—not only lack the ability to maintain a Democratic government, they lack the desire. They don’t want a Democratic government and never have. Sunnis will never accept rule by Shiites and vice-versa.
I cannot explain why President Obama continued our military presence in Iraq for so long when he clearly had no intention of doing what was necessary to win the war, but there is no question why he brought our troops home when he did. The president announced our pullout from Iraq for the purpose of scoring some badly needed short-term political points with a war-weary public, but in doing so he probably thought the government in Iraq could hold things together longer than it has—like until after the end of his tenure as president. Scoring political points by bringing our troops home from Iraq must have seemed like a no-brainer for the president and his advisors. After all, the Iraq war never really resonated with the American public. Other than disposing of Saddam Hussein, a worthy goal that was achieved early on, Americans have found little about that war they could rally around. However, even Americans who were lukewarm about the war in Iraq now understand that President Obama badly bungled the disengagement.
Perhaps fearing that just pulling out of Iraq would not be enough to save the Democrat Party from political disaster, the president further undermined America’s national security by publishing his schedule for bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. Once again the president went for short-term political points at the expense of empowering our enemies. The president’s public announcement concerning Afghanistan has once again given terrorist groups the opportunity to plan their timetable for taking over that country. To make matters even worse, the president then proceeded to release known terrorists from the detention center at Guantanamo, terrorists we are sure to hear from again. His handling of these situations has sent the wrong message to terrorist groups as well as our allies.
In case there is still a reader out there who is so naïve as to believe that President Obama’s handling of foreign policy has not made America more vulnerable, consider the following quote that appeared in an al Qaeda publication called “Inspire”: “O American nation, indeed, your security is not achieved by despoiling other nations’ security or by attacking and oppressing them…Do you dare think that after all this you will be salvaged and feel secure? Nay! Instead, everyday you will be hit by the unexpected and your leaders can repel nothing! Hence, blame none but yourselves. Gulp the bitterness of war, death, destruction, and insecurity as other oppressed humans do.”
To summarize, the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups still hate America as much as they ever did, but because weakness in foreign policy has left us looking irresolute and impotent, they are now better situated and more inspired than ever to attack Americans on American soil. Frankly, terrorist groups are like sharks. When they smell blood in the water they attack. Owing to our mishandled exit from Iraq, publication of the timetable for our exit from Afghanistan, the Benghazi tragedy, and the release of the Guantanamo Five, terrorist groups worldwide smell blood in the water.
Admittedly, up to now this column has had a gloom-and-doom feel to it, and frankly there is much about our current foreign policy to cause such feelings among thinking people. But the end of the story concerning America’s increasing vulnerability has not yet been written. America still has the ability to neutralize and even destroy those who hate us, regardless of what happens in Iraq and Afghanistan. When those countries fall to terrorist backed elements—which they will eventually do—it will be harder for America to protect itself, but not impossible. The question is not whether we have the ability to defend ourselves from terrorists, the question is: Do we have the will? I believe the American people have the will to do what is necessary, but I wonder about the current administration. In fact, I wonder if the Obama administration even has the inclination much less the will, and there—as they say—is the rub.
Fortunately, President Obama’s second term in office is finite—it will end. This being the case, what will his successor need to do to ensure that America is safe from its enemies—not just terrorists, but all of our enemies including China? This, of course, assumes that we will still be a sovereign nation by the time Barack Obama is no longer president. If by chance we are, the following actions must be taken as a minimum if America’s national security is to be restored:
- The President of the United States must be willing to speak the truth. Having a president who insists that blatant acts of terrorism be treated as workplace violence is not just unacceptable, it is dangerous. Also, giving known terrorists access to our legal system rather than treating them as enemy combatants is unconscionable.
- Take all steps necessary to protect America’s electrical grid including hardening the grid to withstand extreme solar storms and EMP attacks.
- Stop playing politically-correct games and get tough on Jihadists living in America. For example, start calling groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood what they are—terrorist groups—and deal with them accordingly. Stop pandering to so-called moderate Muslims and interpret their silence concerning Islamic terrorism as what it really is: tacit approval. If Muslims in America want to be viewed differently than their co-religionists who perpetrate terrorist acts, they need to openly and vocally join the fight against terrorists who want to destroy America.
Weakness in foreign policy has left America vulnerable to terrorists who are committed to our destruction. President Obama appears to be not only unable but unwilling to do what is necessary to restore our national security. His successor can turn things around, but only if that individual is willing to foreswear politically-correct games and take the kinds of steps listed herein. However, as was mentioned earlier, this assumes that by the time President Obama finally steps down it won’t be too late.