Obama’s Frightening Success
So this is how American foreign policy “success” looks nowadays. (WARNING: Graphic Images.)
Without getting all misty-eyed about the Libyan strongman’s torture and murder, it is very hard to understand how the Obama administration can point to this gory spectacle as a crowning success of its foreign policy in the Middle East.
With Gaddafi’s demise, Obama and his team appear to preside over nothing less than a full-blown Islamist renaissance throughout the region. In Libya, Tunisia and Egypt secular autocrats who emphasized local nationalism will be replaced by forces who share the ideological premises of the Muslim Brotherhood, bringing the possibility of the Islamist union tantalizingly close. As exposed by Barry Rubin, on the Syrian front, the United States has acceded to the Turkish ploy to pack the opposition’s National Council with Islamists. Lebanon (remember Lebanon?) remains firmly under the thumb of Hezbollah. And finally, to cap it all off, America is leaving Iraq to the joint tender mercies of Iran and Turkey.
When after the end of the World War II the Nazi-occupied countries of Western Europe began to rebuild their democratic political structures, America didn’t stand idly by and let the Communists (who were at the forefront of anti-Nazi struggle) prevail over those forces it deemed loyal. Without American involvement, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey could have fallen into the Soviet sphere of influence. Today, it looks increasingly as if President Obama considers Arab Islamists as rightful and desirable successors to secular dictators – provided they come to power “democratically” – and bases his assessment of their compatibility with American interests in the region on a mixture of wishful thinking and benign neglect.
The strategic consequences of the Obama-endorsed Islamist ascendancy will take time to materialize, but meanwhile Israel’s security is already being compromised. Unchecked by either the rebels or NATO, Libyan weapons are flowing through Egypt on their way to Gaza. The Eastern Sinai is teeming with more than 20,000 Egyptian troops of dubious loyalty, and Egyptian military jets are regularly crossing the demilitarization lines. Bereft of its traditional Egyptian ally and contemptuous of American pressure, Palestinian leadership is growing intransigent by the day. Hamas is emboldened and expectant. Iran is using the good services of Turkish intermediaries to avoid international sanctions and continues its race to the Bomb. Saudi Arabia, frightened by American infatuation with the “Arab Spring”, is growing unpredictable and inflexible. Here, from Jerusalem, Obama’s pronouncements of victory sound less and less like a clarion call of triumph and more and more like the Nero’s fiddle over the first sparks of the coming conflagration.