President Obama had lots of choices in Middle East. Unfortunately he made all the wrong ones, guided by pop ideology rather than unwelcome facts on the ground. The result is chaos at best and millions dead or displaced at worst. It didn’t have to be this way. Here are 15 turning points since 2009. There is one common theme: bombastic self-serving declarations coupled with weak or nonexistent concrete follow-ups — all in a weird landscape of punishing friends and empowering enemies.
Had Obama only:
1. Cut out all the trash-talking of Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu, which ranged from off-the-record slights (“coward,” “chickens**t”) to public snubs to hot-mic ridicule, to constant ankle-biting of Israeli policy in pursuit of “daylight” between democratic Israel and the U.S.
2. Quit the 2012 politicking and just left the 10,000 or so U.S. peacekeepers in a calm Iraq after 2011 to ensure what Vice President Joe Biden had strangely called the administration’s “greatest achievement,” and Obama had acclaimed as “a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq.”
3. Taken ISIS seriously early on and not written it off as a “jayvee” terrorist group.
4. Not bombed the reforming monster Qaddafi and his brood out of power without any plan of replacement.
5. Beefed up embassy and consulate security in Libya and sent in reinforcement troops at the first sign of trouble.
6. Never supported the efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood and the firebrand ex-CSU Northridge professor Mohamed Morsi to stage a one-vote, one-time Islamist takeover in Egypt.
7. Avoided the empty and melodramatic braggadocio that “Assad must go!”
8. Kept the sanctions on a lying, terrorist-subsidizing — and teetering — Iran, and dropped illusions of an “Iran deal.”
9. Shown support for the Green Revolution and Iranian reformers in 2009.
10. Passed on the idiotic “special relationship” with the Ottomanist Recep Erdogan of Turkey.
11. Never have issued fake “redlines” in Syria or rhetorical serial “deadlines” for cessation of Iranian nuclear proliferation.
12. Never have invited Russia into the Middle East after a hiatus of over 40 years.
13. Skipped all the Middle East purple-passage myth-making, from the fatuous Cairo speech to the various apology tours about purported U.S. sins.
14. Treated “radical Islamic terrorism” as a real existential threat and forgone the ridiculous euphemisms such as “man-caused disasters” and “workplace violence,” along with the embarrassing assertions of our top intelligence leaders that the Muslim Brotherhood was largely secular, that jihad was a non-violent personal growth journey and one of the new chief aims of NASA was Muslim outreach.
15. Dropped the “lead from behind” cuteness, and loud talk of a pivot away from the Middle East.