Then a second man enters and after delivering a fine speech on the virtues of making this into the best restaurant that it can be, begins smashing all the cups and then the plates. He overturns the tables, tears down the curtains, breaks the lights, tumbles all the food to the floor and sets the whole place on fire.
The first man was named George. The second man was named Barack.
During George W. Bush’s last month in office, thirty-one Americans had died in Iraq and Afghanistan. By June, the month of Obama’s infamous Cairo speech, that number had climbed to forty. And by that same time next year, it was at sixty-eight.
When Bush left office at the end of his second term, the region was mostly stable aside from Iran’s nuclear program. By the time Obama had finished his first term, it was in a state of endless war.
It is still in a state of war today.
While Bush only overthrew Saddam, Obama overthrew Mubarak, Ben Ali, Gaddafi and Saleh. The difference lay not only in the scale of their respective regime change operations, but in their relative impacts on regional stability.
Saddam had invaded other countries and cultivated terrorists, while the governments that Obama helped overthrow, aside from Gaddafi, were not expansionistic, were not obsessed with building up WMD’s and had helped maintain regional stability,.
Bush had sought to stabilize the Middle East by removing Saddam. Obama instead destabilized it by trying to remove every government that was in any way friendly to the United States and was not covered by the umbrella of the Saudi GCC.
Bush’s Axis of Evil had consisted of “rogue states”. Obama’s Axis was made up of allied governments. Bush had set out to stabilize the Middle East by clearing out rogue states while Obama set out to empower rogue states by clearing out stable allied governments… which left the rogue states in charge.
The fall of more modern pro-Western governments left the Middle East divided sharply between Sunni and Shiite Islamists in Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Democratic Party’s sabotage of Bush’s efforts to stop Iran had created a regional power imbalance. The Sunnis had numbers, but the Shiites were going nuclear. And a nuclear bomb is a blunt instrument for reducing population numbers by the millions.
Obama’s abandonment of Iraq had pushed it through another violent sectarian split that revived Al Qaeda and combined with his Arab Spring, consumed Syria.
Unable to match Iran on purely military terms and with the United States unwilling to do anything about its nuclear program, the Sunnis turned to insurgency. The Arab Spring had been disastrous for Sunni military powers like Egypt, but helped revive Sunni insurgencies. Syria, with a Sunni majority, was a perfect platform for taking on the Shiite axis and alienating it from the rest of the region.
Saudi Arabia tied down Obama’s “regional reforms” in a civil war exchanging his vision of populist Islamist regime change for violent sectarian conflict and killing his “Arab Spring”. Then killing a second bird with that same stone, it dragged Iran into a brutal insurgency, doing to Iran, what it and the Saudis had done to the United States in Iraq.
Except that it was no longer just about Syria. Syria had become a Sunni-Shiite fracture point stretching into Iraq and Lebanon.
Obama’s abandonment of Iraq led to a comeback for Al Qaeda in Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq had always been the most feral Middle Eastern franchise in the Al Qaeda family. The most brutal, the most senselessly violent and the likeliest to kill just for the sake of killing; its members seemed sociopathic even to hardened Al Qaeda leaders. And Bush had succeeded in burying it until Obama dug it up again.
The sectarian split in Iraq and Syria turned Al Qaeda in Iraq from a defeated footnote to a resurgent army with tens of thousands of fighters and a grip on two major countries.
When Obama boasts that the core of Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, he neglects to mention that the most dangerous part of Al Qaeda is now more powerful than it ever was before. Or that Al Qaeda now has more numbers, more territory and more experience than ever before.
Obama could do nothing meaningful about Al Qaeda in Syria because he feared empowering Assad. And he couldn’t do anything about Assad because he feared alienating Iran. It was a Catch 22 situation forcing him to choose between the Arab Spring and outreach to Iran.
After a long midnight struggle of the soul, he chose Iran.
The Arab Spring had been Obama’s international ObamaCare. It was the project that he was most identified with and the one that he could most take credit for. But by the time the Arab Spring had come down to bombing Syria, it was about as popular as ObamaCare. Russia, Iran and Syria offered Obama a way out. A new, new beginning to replace the old new beginning that had gone wrong in Cairo.
Having sold out Iraq, Egypt and Tunisia, Obama finished the job by dumping the rest of his Sunni allies and taking a ride on the Shiite nuclear express.
Bush had often been blamed for isolating the United States, but it was Obama who thoroughly isolated the United States in the Middle East.
The United States had set out to isolate Iran, but Obama’s nuclear pandering to Iran instead allowed Iran to isolate the United States from its allies. No country in the Middle East still trusts the United States. Egypt despises Obama. The Saudis insult him. The rest don’t even bother to do that much. The Israeli Defense Minister talks of dealing with Iran alone.
The United States has become a fading shadow in the Middle East; a power vacuum waiting to be filled by a nuclear arms race and battlefields of the dead.
Obama inflicted severe damage on American influence and interests, and on the Middle East, with nothing but an inchoate notion that the Islamists who would take over when he was done would embrace democracy over terrorism. Instead there is less democracy and more terror than ever before.
Obama’s foreign policy was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The left had insisted for decades that the Arab Street was angry because of the damage wrought by our interference in their domestic politics. And he attempted to “right that error” by interfering so much that the accusation was finally proven true.
The one thing that all the parties in Egypt, that Sunni and Shiite from Syria to Iraq to Lebanon, that Christian, Jew and Muslim can agree on, is that the Middle East would have been better off if Obama had kept his mouth shut and stayed away.
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