When conservatives consider the casualties of Obama’s national security policies, their attention is drawn quite naturally to Benghazi. In this shameful episode, the Obama Administration sacrificed an ambassador and three American heroes to protect a deceptive presidential campaign message in which Obama claimed that the war against al-Qaeda was over and won (“Osama bin Laden is dead, and al-Qaeda is on the run”). The facts are these: Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American heroes were sent into an al-Qaeda stomping ground that the British and other diplomatic consulates had already evacuated; they were denied the security they had requested; they were then left to die during a seven hour fire fight when their compound was attacked, and finally betrayed in death, when Obama and his representatives lied to the world about what had taken place and when he failed to bring their killers to justice as he had mendaciously promised he would.
Benghazi can be seen as the collateral damage caused by presidential lies – and worse – presidential denial that there is in fact a war that Islamists have declared on America. Instead Obama insists – in the official language he authorized and that is still in place – that America’s responses to acts of Islamic terror should be described as “overseas contingency operations.” If Islamic murders and beheadings take place in the homeland, Obama calls them “workplace violence.” Benghazi is also the most shameful presidential abandonment of Americans in the field in our history – a disgrace compounded when Obama justified his trade of five Taliban Generals for one American deserter by saying Americans don’t leave their countrymen on the battlefield, which is precisely what he did in Benghazi. All of which justifies the conservative focus on this terrible event.
But the casualties of Obama’s reign in Benghazi are dwarfed by the hundreds of thousands of deaths his policies have led to in Syria and Iraq, and the millions of Iraqis, Syrians and Lybians that those same policies have caused to flee their homes and become homeless in Turkey, Tunisia and other places of refuge. Obama’s legacy is defined by his ideological aversion to American power, his rule as the most anti-military president in our history, and his deeds as an “anti-war” activist, opposed to the “war on terror” because he believes that America’s (and Israel’s) policies are the cause of terrorism and the hatred that Islamic fanatics direct against our country.
Because of his ideological opposition to American power, Obama deliberately and openly surrendered America’s gains in Iraq, which had been won through the sacrifice of thousands of American lives and tens of thousands of American casualties. By deliberately handing over America’s massive military base in Iraq – a country that borders Syria, Afghanistan and Iran – Obama turned that country over to the terrorists and Iran, as his generals and intelligence chief and secretary of defense warned it would. Obama disregarded the warnings from his national security advisers – as no other American president would have – because he regarded America rather than the terrorists as the threat. In abandoning Iraq and deliberately losing the peace, he betrayed every American and every Iraqi who gave their lives to keep Iraq out of the hands of the terrorists and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Obama’s stubborn refusal to use America’s military might – ground forces backed by air power – when Assad crossed the “red line” Obama had drawn in Syria created a second power vacuum that the terrorists filled, thus leading to the emergence of ISIS or ISIL – the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant. Defenders of Obama will claim that the American public would not have supported a military intervention in Syria even if Obama had ordered one. But why is that? It is because for eleven years, beginning with their assault on “Bush’s war” in Iraq, the Democrats have sabotaged the war on terror, claiming that America’s use of power for anything but “humanitarian” purposes is illegitimate, dangerous and the root cause of the terrorist problem.
Because it was “humanitarian” Obama felt justified in conducting an unauthorized, illegal intervention in Libya to overthrow an anti-al Qaeda dictator, saying it was to prevent an invisible threat to civilians there. The result? Al-Qaeda is now a dominant force in Libya, and 1.8 million Libyans – a third of the population – have fled to Tunisia. Another brutal Obama legacy. Yet, how firm is Obama’s commitment to humanitarian interventions? In Iraq he stood by while more than half a million Christians were either slaughtered or driven into exile by ISIS murderers on their mission to cleanse the earth of infidels. This was the oldest Christian community in the world, going back to the time of Christ, and Obama let it be systematically destroyed before bad press and pressure from his own party caused him to intervene to save Yazvidis and a Christian remnant trapped on a mountain top.
The Obama presidency has been an unmitigated disaster for Iraqis, Syrians, and Libyans. Now that ISIS is in control of territory the size of a state, has access to hundreds of millions of petrol dollars and advanced U.S. ordnance, not to mention chemical weapons that Saddam left behind, it is an impending disaster for the American homeland as well.
David Horowitz is the author of the recently published book Take No Prisoners: The Battle Plan For Defeating the Left (Regnery 2014)