“If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see farther into the future.”
— Madeleine Albright, secretary of state (1997–2001), Clinton administration
It is a judgment on Barack Obama’s timorous, apologetic, and irresponsible conduct of foreign affairs that Madeleine Albright’s words, spoken little more than 15 years ago, now sound as antique as a pronouncement by Harry Truman at the onset of the Cold War, the great challenge America confronted bravely and without equivocation generations ago. Obama has set in motion policies meant to make America far from indispensable — a diminished nation that “leads from behind,” if at all; a nation with a downsized military, chronically uncertain about its meaning and its mission as it skulks in the wings of the world stage.
Albright made her statement about Iraq when Democrats were still supporting their country’s confrontation with the sadistic dictator Saddam Hussein, and before they defected from the war, shortly after its battles were under way. Obama opposed America’s war with Iraq and then opposed the military surge that finally brought victory. As president, Obama presided over the withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq, against the wishes of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who wanted a continuing military presence — withdrawal paid for in the blood of thousands of American men and women in arms. Obama thus turned that benighted nation over to the malign influences of America’s chief enemy in the Middle East, Iran.
Far from shouldering his responsibility as the commander-in-chief of America’s global War on Terror and embracing it as this generation’s equivalent of the Cold War, Obama showed his distaste for the entire enterprise by dropping the term “War on Terror” and replacing it with an Orwellian phrase — “overseas contingency operations.” Minimizing the Islamist threat to the United States is not an oversight of the Obama administration; that is its policy.
It should not have been difficult for Obama to make the nation’s defense a priority when he became America’s commander-in-chief in January 2009. The American homeland had already experienced a devastating attack, which terrorists have been constantly trying to repeat. The number of foreign states openly supporting terror has steadily risen during Obama’s tenure. The most dangerous Islamist regime, Iran, is building nuclear weapons, while Washington dithers over pointless negotiations. As secular governments give way to Islamist regimes in Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq, and with the Taliban on the rise in Afghanistan and an American withdrawal imminent, the parallels to the early Cold War are eerie, the implications equally dire. Yet instead of policies that put U.S. national security first and are pursued without hesitation or apology, Obama’s time in office has been marked by retreat and accommodation and even support of Islamist foes — most ominously of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which swept aside an American ally with Obama’s help and is busily creating a totalitarian state.
Obama’s Foreign-Policy Disasters
In the four years since Obama’s first inauguration, almost three times as many Americans have been killed in Afghanistan as in the eight years of the Bush administration. Withdrawal, not victory, has been Obama’s goal from the outset, and now it is the only outcome possible. During the Obama years, there have been more than 8,000 Islamic terrorist attacks on “infidels” across the globe, a 25 percent increase over the number when the fighting in Iraq was at its height. In the face of this bloody and intensifying Islamist offensive, Obama has tried to convince the American people that the war against al-Qaeda has been essentially “won” — by him — and that the terrorist threat is subsiding. Denial of the war that Islamists have declared on us, and of the threat it represents, is the heart of the Obama doctrine and has guided this nation’s policies for more than four years.
Obama’s desire for rapprochement with the Islamist regime in Iran has prompted the administration to drag its feet on the sanctions designed to halt Tehran’s nuclear program. For the same reason, the president and his administration were silent when hundreds of thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran to call for an end to the dictatorship and were met by an orgy of violence from the mullahs’ thugs. Because of the White House’s moral and political timidity, its denial of the Islamist threat, and its conviction that America (presumably an even greater predator) has no right to condemn another nation, Iran reached its tipping point and went the wrong way.
The administration’s denial was glaring also in its response to the massacre of 13 unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood by an Islamic fanatic and terrorist, Nidal Malik Hasan, who three and a half years later still has not been brought to trial. Hasan infiltrated the American military and, despite open expressions of hatred for the West, was promoted to the rank of U.S. Army major. The Obama administration’s Kafkaesque response to an obvious case of Islamist violence against the U.S. was to classify the terrorist attack as an incident of “workplace violence,” and thus to hide the fact that Hasan was a Muslim soldier in a war against the infidels of the West.