Obama's Terror Gambit
It seems that the Goebbels playbook is working. Obama fronts the game so well that he dodges any personal responsibility for various lies and administration blunders now in the news. And all of this is OK with the Twitter twits. The buck no longer stops at the top: it stops with the assistant to the deputy assistant's assistant down in the bowels of some obscure bureaucracy. Or maybe amateur video auteurs are at fault.
All presidents have a bumpy ride in their second term and Obama is no exception. But the scope and variety of recent malpractice is astounding. Yet few folks seem to care: the media remains incurious and the wired generation is busy with their Facebook status, Tweets, YouTube, and almost any Kardashian gluetus maximus.
Foreign policy malpractice registers on a global scale. At some point in the first term, Obama went, at least in the minds of most voters, from dithering amateur to decisive statesman.
How did Obama survive a first term that had all the earmarks of a Jimmy Carter rerun? The Democrats lost the House in the mid-term elections and the subsequent health care bill was probably the most partisan, complicated, expensive, and divisive domestic bill ever passed by the US Congress. There were more than a few moments when it seemed Marion Barry might have been better suited to the Oval Office than Obama.
Political resurrection is a hat trick where the timing is often as important as any complicated matrix of explanations. The timing of the Osama Bin Laden kill was surely a defining moment for the Obama reelection. The stage had been set for that iconic Situation Room photo opportunity early in the president's first term. From the beginning, John Brennan had been riding point for a legion of spin masters that included the NSC, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), and the Intelligence Community. David Petraeus and James Clapper incorporated the best, some say worst, of those worlds.
From the outset, the Obama (nee Brennan) doctrine, sought to narrowly define the national security threat as a single man representing and a single small organization, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Never mind that by 2008, government and historical data bases were bursting with dozens of Islamist groups and an alarming tally of atrocities that had nothing to do with al Qaeda -- and everything to do with a global tsunami of anti-Semitism and Muslim terror.
But spin is as spin does. While minimizing the terror threat, the administration was also taking sides in the various intramural Arab blood baths. Indeed, in Tunisia, Egypt, the emirates, Libya, Afghanistan, and now Syria; the Brennan doctrine sides with the Sunni brand of irredentism. In this, the American Left may still be smarting from, or motivated by, the defection (1979) of the Persian Shia during the Carter years.
It's difficult to fathom the blowback from such strategic schizophrenia. If history and numbers matter, Sunni theologians (Wahhabis and Salifists) and Arab jihadists kill more infidels and apostates than all other known terror groups combined. Yet, we are consistently assured by the Brennan doctrine that collaborating with Sunni factions is the "right side of history."
Actually, American foreign policy is drifting to the wrong side, with a tail wind from the European Left. Theocracy is too often the default setting for failed Muslim autocracies. The corrupt seculars of the Ummah are in the crosshairs today. Yet, pandering will not take European and the American social democrats off the imperial religious radar tomorrow. Think of the Twin Towers, Benghazi, and the Boston Marathon as auguries. We are constantly assured that Islam is one of "great" religions while all evidence from global mayhem and misogyny argues otherwise.
Indeed, the principal contributions of political Islam to modern global culture are sexual repression, terror, religious war, and the renaissance of theocracy. How does a culture that rejects, in part or whole; art, science, music, wine, women, and dogs get a place at any table? How does a culture that tolerates honor killings, genital mutilation, misogyny, polygamy, indentured servitude, and child marriage merit the adjective "great" in any context?
The Brennan doctrine coupled with the Manichean assumptions of Islamic dogma would have you believe that we infidels and apostates are "unclean" while Islam is a superior variety of social hygiene. Alas, it might take more than ritual bath to wash such doublespeak from the double think. The West has not confronted religious fascism since the Inquisition. And political "science" (see Fukuyama) assures us that secular fascism is history. So we are left with strange bedfellows; an iconic Muslim martyr who, in death by assassination, saves an iconic American socialist.
Still, let's give credit where due: the Brennan doctrine managed to confine the Muslim threat, in the public mind, to al Qaeda; and at the same time let the Taliban off the hook. Mullah Omar, a semi-literate Sunni cleric that makes Shia ayatollahs look like girl scouts, is still at large. The Leader of the Taliban is never featured in administration "stabilization" spin. And now the Taliban is poised to take Kabul -- again. Karachi, and a ready-made cache of nuclear weapons, is in reach next door.
The Taliban just opened an office in Qatar. John Kerry has granted the worst among a bad lot a seat at the negotiating table. The Taliban shadow government again calls itself the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan." In this we hear a faint echo of John Brennan suggesting that Jerusalem should be called al Quds. Karzai might now be hung and castrated on the same traffic light that hosted his predecessor, Najibullah. Giving the Taliban any official status anywhere is a little like juggling with nitroglycerine.
And "peace" talks with the Taliban in Doha have to be a kind of black comedy. Arabia and Egypt are the financiers and philosophers of the most virulent Islamism. Any deal made in sharia compliant Arabia will be at the expense of secular Karachi and secular Kabul -- and all women and children in South Asia.
Alas, the West has nothing to offer the Taliban; Islamists are already winning. John Kerry might be looking for some flaccid assurance that the Taliban will stop hosting al Qaeda. Done deal! Pashtuns don't like foreigners anyway, especially rich, decadent Arabs.
The bin Laden kill was not just the tipping point for the Obama rebrand; the Special Forces raid also remade Barack Hussein into a Teflon don, the kind of kind of immunized phoenix that makes places like Chicago and Illinois famous. No surprise then that the victory laps have already begun. And here again, John Brennan and James Clapper are riding point.
Administration strategy seems to assume that the voting public is too inert, lazy, ignorant, and corrupt to care much about foreign policy. In this, team Obama may have their finger on the American pulse
Islamist and American policy objectives are now joined. Both sides are motivated by "regime change." Ultimately, the allied 'transition' will leave Muslim Asia to the tender mercies of the worst jihad on the planet.
Kick Karzai to the curb! Break out the burkas! The world's first theocratic narco-state is a making its debut. Heroin and hijabs are sure to be an unstoppable combination. South Asia is already flying green and black flags.
Washington, London, Paris, and Berlin should be flying white flags.
G. Murphy Donovan is a former Intelligence director who served under the incumbent DNI when James Clapper was the chief of USAF Intelligence.