Middle East Exploding, and Obama Nowhere to Be Found
Nations in the Middle East, some of whom were once allies of the U.S., appear to be defying America. This is very evident when reviewing the events over the past six months in Libya, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq, and also among the Palestinians. As former Vice President Dick Cheney stated, "[o]ur allies no longer trust us, or have confidence in us, and our adversaries no longer fear us." The problem is also that America's allies in the region are dwindling while its adversaries are increasing. American Thinker interviewed experts to get their opinion about this very important issue.
In Iraq, the government has ignored entreaties from the Obama administration and has freed a top Hezb'allah operative accused of murdering American soldiers. This was after Vice President Joe Biden phoned Prime Minister Maliki on November 13, urging him to hold the terrorist Ali Musa Daqduq accountable for his crimes. Also, earlier this month it was reported by U.S. officials that Iraq has allowed Iran to use Iraqi airspace to fly military personnel and weapons to Syria in civilian aircraft.
In Egypt, the day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Egyptian President Morsi, Morsi instituted a power-grab. He issued decrees giving himself broad powers by effectively weakening the judiciary, and he pushed through a draft of the new constitution in just twenty-one hours. This draft basically sets Morsi up to become a dictator through several articles that will restrict the rights of women and minorities. Liberals, Coptic Christians, and women walked out as this constitution was drafted, and members of all of these groups have been demonstrating ever since. At a meeting to discuss the situation, there was only one liberal opposition politician who attended, while the other eight delegates were Islamists. President Obama has not made any strong statements rejecting this possible Islamist coup, which will be voted on as a referendum on December 15.
"Palestine" is yet another failure of the Obama administration. The Palestinians defiantly took a vote to the U.N. General Assembly that decided overwhelmingly to divide Jerusalem and seize much of Israel, as well as give "Palestine" independent non-voting member status. This was done a day after Secretary of State Clinton stressed that America would not support that move and that the "path to a two-state solution ... is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York."
In Syria, there is the significant threat of chemical weapons being used in their civil war. It is reported that the Assad regime is loading some of its missiles and bombs with deadly nerve agents. There is also speculation that a terror group might try to get some of those chemical arms. The U.S. administration responded by having Clinton and President Obama warn Assad that Syria would be "held accountable" if chemical weapons are used. Vice President Cheney summarized the feelings of all those interviewed. In a speech, he asserted, "The President can make bold statements and bold talk, as he did in the past couple of days about developments in Syria, but I don't think they care...I have grave doubts that he is prepared to do anything with Syria."
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden explained to American Thinker, "In talking about the Middle East, no one can question that our interests remain important and constant. Our influence, however, has waned, although part of that was probably inevitable, given the changes in the region. The question that should be asked: are we committing enough in terms of our resources and our energies in protecting our interests in this part of the world, or is this the product of American retrenchment?"
There is a good argument to be made that the president is MIA, since he appears to be both disinterested and not highly committed. Hayden believes that what America could do is provide resources such as aid, military contacts, a large diplomatic footprint, and training. Hayden sarcastically points to Iraq, where "I am coming to the conclusion that the right number of troops probably wasn't zero. Iraq has become very unstable, much more friendly to Iran, and has been a facilitator about what is going on in Syria. Would all that be happening as much if we still had a military presence there?"
A former Bush national security advisor emphatically notes, "No one can think that we have been engaged with the Syrian problem for the last six months. I am not talking about U.S. troops on the ground, but on the other hand, you can't lead from behind. If we continue to sit on the sidelines, we will find ourselves in a really bad position in that region. When there is a civil war and ungoverned areas, the groups that benefit the most are the extremists, the al-Qaedas of the world, as seen in both the Syrian and Libyan civil wars."
Was Libya the warning sign, the light bulb that should have gone on? A former high- ranking CIA official unequivocally answered yes. He angrily commented, "Authorities in Washington including the president did not do what they could to defend our people. Libya showed the world we tried to temper our reaction down. We did nothing, not even scream loudly. There is ongoing turmoil in this region. We are in for a hell of a time. I had to laugh when the president said we should pivot away from the Middle East. There is going to be tremendous uncertainty and instability in the Middle East. The problem is that those in the region see us as being weak and do not have much respect for us."
Congressman Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, regards the president's Middle East policies as nonexistent. He believes that the president has chosen to have a light footprint in the Middle East, which has led the Arab Spring to turn into the Arab winter. "The area is evolving into complete chaos, and the U.S. is nowhere to be found. Libya is a good example, where the president did it his way and then disappeared. He has allowed the bad guys to gain the upper hand. Americans should be aware and concerned about this trend and the president's reaction. The entire Middle East is a lot more dangerous."
Those in the Middle East no longer fear and respect America. They have defied the U.S. because the president has not taken a leadership role. His policy or lack of one is dangerous to the national security of the U.S. No one can feel confident regarding what is happening in the Middle East today, especially with a president who is disengaging and is not asserting his influence to shape events.