FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Libya: Obama’s other foreign-policy disaster
The Weekly Standard offers a glum assessment of Obama’s fiasco in Syria: “With the Russian proposal on Syrian chemical weapons, the United States is being escorted out of the Middle East.”
Reset with Russia was originally a strategic priority for the Obama administration because it saw Moscow as the key to getting Iran to come to the negotiating table. Putin, from the White House’s perspective, was destined for the role of junior partner. Now Putin has turned “Reset” upside down. By helping Obama out of a jam with Syria, Putin has made himself the senior partner to whom the White House is now beholden. Accordingly, when Putin proposes the same sort of deal with Iran, with Russia having established its bona fides as an interlocutor for Syria, Obama is almost certain to jump at it.
What’s unclear is whether Obama understands that his foreign policy legacy will be to have ruined the American position in the Middle East, our patrimony of the last seven decades. If the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran signaled weakness, the Russian deal screams surrender. The real surprise is that it’s not Iran kicking the United States out of the region under Obama’s watch, but Putin.
What’s left, really? Putin’s in control in Syria, and the desperate efforts by Obama hacks to claim his “strength” brought Assad to the negotiating table (as geo-political strategist Nancy Pelosi put it today) will only erode U.S. prestige further. The message sent by Obama’s protective nannies – hoisting their battered and sobbing little boy out of the playground dirt to insist he did so win that fight with Vlad the school bully – is one of easily exploited American weakness. As long as foreign powers give Obama a cookie and let him shore up his flagging approval ratings at home, they can do whatever they want.
In Egypt, Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood allies have been routed so completely that they’re not even in the news any more. The one thing everyone in that troubled land currently agrees upon is that Barack Obama isn’t much use as an ally, outside of the fat subsidy checks he doesn’t dare stop writing. And the savvier global operators know that the American gravy train will soon be coming to a halt. Unlike White House spokespeople and their media pals, the world’s geo-political pros can read a spreadsheet. There won’t be enough money in the American treasury to fund anything except entitlements in twenty years or so. The money for checkbook diplomacy will dry up long before that.
Afghanistan’s about to return to the tender mercies of the Taliban. Iraq was comfortable with Iranian supply planes crossing its airspace to prop up the Assad regime in Syria. Israel just received the conclusive proof, if anything further was truly needed, that Obama won’t be much help against Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Remember the 2012 vice presidential debate, when grinning, eye-rolling lunatic Joe Biden assured America that Iran’s totally under control, the Obama Administration will know the instant nuclear weapons are about to go hot, and the situation is totally under control? Our grandchildren will ask us how anyone could possibly have pulled the lever for the Obama/Biden ticket after watching that performance.
And then you’ve got Libya: Obama’s other foreign policy disaster. If you get all of your foreign policy information from the American mainstream media, you could be forgiven for forgetting that Libya exists. It’s been pretty much erased from the map, after a spot of bother on September 11, 2012 threatened to derail the Obama re-election campaign. We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of that forgotten outrage. The New York Times brings us an update on the breathless manhunt to catch the killers of Ambassador Chris Stevens and his brave defenders – killers Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton swore would be brought to justice:
A year after the attacks in Benghazi that killed the United States ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, the Justice Department has indicted suspects. Intelligence officials have a general idea of where they are hiding. And the military has a contingency plan to snatch them if that becomes necessary.
But the fledgling Libyan government, which has little to no control over significant parts of the country, like Benghazi and eastern Libya, has rebuffed the Obama administration’s efforts to arrest the suspects.
President Obama promised the day after the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks to bring the killers to justice, and the fact that this has not happened has led Congressional Republicans to renew their criticism of the administration for its handling of the Benghazi episode as officials have made the case that Congress should authorize a military strike against Syria.
“You cannot have an attack on the mission, 12 months later identified a good number of the participants, and have absolutely no consequences for the taking of American lives,” Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, who leads the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview.
The government Obama installed feels free to blow him off about the Benghazi murderers – whose crime was at as much a violation of “international norms” as the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war – but it doesn’t really matter, because they don’t control most of their own country anyway. Groovy.
The Administration is handling this news pretty much the same way it’s dealing with its rout in Syria. Never mind what your lying eyes tell you, it’s a fabulous victory for the two-fisted, rock-ribbed, lantern-jawed Obama foreign policy team, which all the world has learned to fear and respect:
The White House chief of staff, Denis R. McDonough, was asked on “Fox News Sunday” why one of the suspects, Ahmed Khattala, has been interviewed by several American news media outlets but has remained free.
“The United States government does what it says, and we will do what we say in this instance, as we do in every other instance,” Mr. McDonough said. “I have no doubt about that.”
Federal law enforcement authorities have filed murder charges against Mr. Khattala, a militia leader in Benghazi, in connection with the attacks. The authorities have identified several others who they said they believe participated in the attacks, and have filed charges under seal against some of them, according to American officials.
This is a triumph. I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS.
If you’re thinking maybe we should be pitting American military muscle against the people who actually attacked us, rather than diving into the Syrian civil-war quagmire, you’re thinking along the same lines as some of the folks at the Pentagon:
Among the obstacles the F.B.I. has encountered in Libya has been a reluctance by some police and government officials there to target members of Ansar al-Shariah, a local Islamist group whose fighters joined the attack, according to witnesses. Government officials in Benghazi have said it would be impossible for lightly armed Libyan forces to arrest militia members. Leaders of Benghazi’s most powerful militias, some of whom fought with Ansar al-Shariah members during the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, say they would be hesitant to act against suspects unless they were shown conclusive proof of their involvement.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has been preparing contingency plans should Mr. Obama order a military operation against the suspects. For months, an unarmed American military surveillance drone has flown virtually every day over Benghazi, gathering information and poised to respond if any of the suspects are identified.
The top-secret Joint Special Operations Command has compiled “target packages” of detailed information about possible suspects, senior military and counterterrorism officials said. Working with the Pentagon and the C.I.A., the command has been preparing the dossiers as the first step in anticipation of possible orders from Mr. Obama to take action against those determined to have played a role in the Benghazi assault that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
But a number of Libyan political figures have expressed wariness that any unilateral military action by the United States, like a drone strike, would fuel popular anger and add a destructive new element to the uncertain security situation in Benghazi, especially with the Obama administration considering military strikes against Syria.
So we can’t do anything about the Benghazi terrorists because Obama wants to keep his options for yet another war of choice open. A war his Administration says would be wrapped up in a matter of hours, days at most. Which is the same thing he said about Libya.
When most of the U.S. media talks about war weariness leading to public opposition for a war in Syria, they’re generally referring to Iraq and Afghanistan. But they really should be talking about Libya, which began with many of the same promises Obama has been making about his teeny tiny Syria smackdown, and ended as a disaster he doesn’t want to talk about. To this day, Obama invests more energy in stonewalling congressional investigators than hunting down the Benghazi attackers. Reporter Sharyl Attkisson says Secretary of State John Kerry has reneged on his promise to make survivors of the attack available for questioning.
If you want to see what the ashes of incinerated American “credibility” look like, check out the consulate in Benghazi, where Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton showed the world what they’re really made of.