The Corner

A Head-in-Sand Middle East Policy

During the time President Obama was leading from behind against Moammar Qaddafi, some of us asked why the president seemed so incurious about the identity of the Libyan rebels. Might the allegiances, sympathies and ideology of those on whose behalf the president had committed U.S. military power be just a bit relevant?

In fact, the identities of the rebels weren’t difficult to discern. Rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi admitted at the time that a significant number of the Libyan rebels were al-Qaeda fighters, many of whom had fought U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shortly after Qaddafi was deposed, scores of al-Qaeda flags were raised  throughout Libyan cities, including over the rebel headquarters in Benghazi. The administration’s (and sympathetic media’s) response? Move along, nothing to see here.

Shortly thereafter, a U.N. envoy reported that Libyan weapons depots were left unguarded after Qaddafi’s overthrow. The depots contained, among other things, chemical and radiological material, including an estimated 7,000 drums of uranium. Assistant secretary of state Andrew Shapiro stated that terrorist groups were interested in obtaining Libyan anti-aircraft missiles which “could pose a threat to civil aviation.” David Ignatius reported that former CIA officers claimed the missiles included Russian-made SA-7 and SA-24 missiles.

Meanwhile, the so-called Arab Spring has generated greater belligerence toward Israel, Syria is in flames, and Iran speeds toward development of nuclear weapons. If these things weren’t specifically predictable, neither were they surprising. Apologizing, bowing, and sticking one’s head in the sand isn’t the most effective of foreign policies. So far, it’s produced little more than contempt and aggression.


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