We are now seeing the outcome of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. While he’s never actually articulated any policy, its tenets are clear. Obama first began implementing it shortly after his inauguration four years ago with his World Apology Tour.
An additional tenet was made manifest with his “leading from behind” practice first employed when he voted “Present” during the Iranian people’s uprising later in 2009. This was made explicit as the people of Libya struggled for so long to throw off a bloody despot and to achieve their freedom. Europe was quickly supportive of the Libyan rebels in concrete ways, but they had to drag the Obama administration kicking and screaming to even background support. In Syria, Obama stretched this aspect of his policy into “leading from nowhere at all,” sitting timidly by, tsk-tsking over the butchery of al-Assad’s murder of, now, 40,000 of his people, but doing nothing serious about it.
We got another tenet made clear as Obama elevated the UN, and through them Russia and the People’s Republic of China, to final arbiters of American foreign policy, particularly with regard to the Iranian nuclear weapons program. This policy aspect granted Russia and the PRC the power to veto any meaningful action by the US.
The final leg of the Obama Doctrine appeared with Obama’s walk away from Israel—berating them for aggressively defending themselves (“they have a right to defend themselves” in the present Israeli-Hamas terrorist conflict rings hollow indeed); insisting that the Israelis withdraw to the 1969, and indefensible, borders as a precondition to negotiating with Hamas; refusing to meet with Israel’s Prime Minister while both he and Benjamin Netanyahu were in New York for a UN conclave and refusing a meeting in DC that later week or the next, to which Netanyahu volunteered to travel.
With this doctrine of rejection of American power and influence and its withdrawal, our and our allies’ enemies have grown ever more aggressive. Rather than being a continued source of influence and stability in the Middle East, for instance, now we have the danger and open warfare.
The first overt event of the coming conflagration may have been merely a probe, a test to see whether this new American policy was real. Our timidity vis-à-vis the Libyan revolt let that civil war go on for longer than it should have; a brittle, top-heavy, hated regime should have fallen far faster than it did. The dragged-out civil war, though, left the new Libyan government weakened even more than new governments normally are, with far too many well-armed factions, both friendly and inimical to that government, in being. The government’s weakness relative to the terrorist organizations (Ansar al-Sharif and the Libyan branch of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, for instance) was exacerbated by these terrorist organizations’ opportunity to use that extra time to accumulate vast amounts of arms alongside the legitimate rebels’ arming.
So, the test. These terrorists were encouraged to take on the US, and taking advantage of the weakness of the Libyan government, they attacked our Benghazi consulate and succeeded in murdering an American Ambassador and three other Americans, potentially collecting valuable intelligence material, also, from the items so poorly secured through the fighting that for weeks after the attack private individuals and journalists (among others) were able to collect documents lying in the rubble. The weakness of the Obama’s administration’s responses during and after the terrorists’ assault have been documented here, here, and here, among other places. Given the success of Benghazi by the terrorists, and the lack of material response since then, abetted by the Obama administration’s confused cover-up of that attack’s parameters, there’s been a five-fold increase in terrorist Web sites inciting attacks against US allies and against the US.
Having seen the outcome of this probe, we get the following, and it’s more concrete than mere Internet chatter:
Egypt expelled the Israeli ambassador on a manufactured beef, froze diplomatic ties with Israel, and lifted several restrictions at Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip.
Our enemies have not limited themselves to talking, however. Having satisfied themselves with the outcome of the Benghazi test, the terrorists wasted little time moving forward, and we are now seeing the first overt blow struck against the US and our allies in response to the Obama Doctrine.
The Hamas “government” of Gaza greatly increased their terror rocket fire against Israeli civilian targets, finally forcing Israel to respond militarily: we now have Israeli air and artillery strikes against these terrorists’ rocket sites and specifically targeted personnel. This war already is spreading in its scope and its participants. Hamas is firing rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, reaching distances these terrorists had been unable to achieve heretofore, but now Iran is supplying them with the longer-ranged rockets. Rockets are being fired into Israel’s Negev area from the Sinai—from within Egypt. Of course, this could not occur without the active acquiescence of, if not outright participation by, the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt.
During this fighting, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil travelled to Gaza and had this to say:
It isn’t a matter of individuals, not a matter of community. It is a matter of a nation. The Arab nation, the Islamic nation. We are all behind you, the struggling nation, the heroic that is presenting its children as heroes every day.
Leading into that visit, in a demonstration of the fecklessness of the Obama Doctrine, US officials said that they’ve “been confused” by Morsi’s messaging but remain(ed) hopeful.
Further, while the Israelis had agreed to a cease fire during Qandil’s visit, Hamas continued their rocket fire on Israel.
Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslem visited Gaza on the heels of Qandil.
The decision by Mr. Abdesslem, like Mr. Qandil, to literally wade into the midst of fighting presents a bold—if symbolic—challenge to Israel’s government. The political brinkmanship has diplomats worried that a new generation of Arab leaders, who are beholden to their voting publics for the first time, may feel compelled to take action against the Jewish state.
Neither men visited Israel; both nations are bent on Israel’s destruction and the removal of all vestiges of American influence in the Middle East.
And this from Israel’s Ambassador to the US Michael Oren:
Clearly, Hamas has felt emboldened by the changes in the region generally and that has redounded to their benefit. The major problem as far as the Arab Spring’s issues impacts the ability of Hamas to import missiles is the greater accessibility to Gaza from Sudan and Libya. And the flow of arms from Libya has been significant. We’ve encountered arms already that have been fired at us that have been brought in from Libya as well as on the Sudanese route. And the general situation in Sinai and the loss of effective controls in Sinai have facilitated the flow of advanced arms into Gaza.
Meanwhile, under the Obama Doctrine, we are turning our backs on Israel while continuing to send billions of dollars to Egypt.
Hamas and Egypt (to say nothing of Iran) are emboldened by the Obama administration’s first-term timidity in dealing with freedom in Libya, supporting freedom in Iran, responding to the al-Assad butchery of those 40,000, and his withdrawal from overt support for Israel.
Now that Obama has been reelected and, by his own words, is no longer accountable to the American people, those who’ve begun attacking Israel from Gaza over the last week plainly consider that they now have free hand with an isolated Israel that the United States no longer will support in any meaningful way.
American timidity in dealing with the Arab Spring, which originated as a series of rebellions against despotic governments in favor of freedom, has through our decision not to try to engage the region and help the rebels shape a truly free and peaceful collection of governments, facilitated terrorist groups’—Ansar al-Sharif, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, et al., —ability to shape the region to their own ends. This has made arms flow throughout the region far easier, and, with the Libyan situation as an illustration, created a new source of arms, also: those arms flowing to Hamas about which Oren is so concerned.
What can we expect from the future under the Obama Doctrine, given the events to date and the Doctrine’s continuation? I’ll make some predictions in Part II tomorrow.