Al Qaeda sees things much differently from the president.
On the campaign trail of a war-weary nation, Obama is running as the man who successfully concluded three wars. This assertion, like so many others, only works if you close your eyes, stick your head deep in the sand and count to a few million.
Wars, unlike elections, do not begin and end on schedule. They begin and end when the enemy says they do. While Obama asserts that three wars are over, Al Qaeda has a different point of view on the matter. And as long as it remains able to carry on its war, then the war isn’t over.
Obama’s boasts of quickly and cleanly wrapping up the Libyan War with no loss of American lives ended on September 11, 2012, when four Americans were murdered by the Islamic militias that he had allowed to take over in Benghazi. The threat of the militias was well known, but disregarded, because it interfered with the image of a quick and successful war.
In his own mind, Obama was still running against Bush, and Libya was a demonstration that, unlike Bush, he could pull off regime change without offending Muslims or alienating the international community. But like Iraq, the Libyan War did not end with any of Obama’s Mission Accomplished speeches. With no serious plans made for what would happen after the fall of Gaddafi, the real power ended up not in the hands of the government that he expected to take over, but in the hands of the jihadists who had done most of the real fighting.
The Libyan War is not over. The Benghazi consulate attack is a down payment on a conflict that now appears likely to top the Iraq War. The fall of Gaddafi has already led to an Al Qaeda takeover of half of Mali. France is pushing to lead an intervention in Mali and there has been some discussion of American trainers coming back to help the Mali government.
If the Islamists not only retain their hold on Benghazi, but succeed in taking Tripoli, then Libya along with Mali will become a new Afghanistan, except with oil revenues and a favorable location for launching attacks on Mediterranean shipping and on neighboring Europe. And at that point the US will be forced to refight a Libyan War that will look less like Yugoslavia and more like Afghanistan.
And what of Afghanistan, the one remaining conflict that Obama promises us will end on 2014? Like most of Obama’s promises, not only can’t you take it to the bank, but if you write it as a check it will bounce higher than his unemployment numbers.
Obama isn’t really ending the Afghanistan War; he’s ending his part of the war. Obama will have all the troops from his failed Afghanistan surge home by 2014 while leaving behind an estimated 25,000 troops there to try and protect a corrupt Afghan government that is in no shape to hold off the Taliban.
If that seems like a lot, it’s more than the number of troops that Bush had in Afghanistan in 2006. When Obama says that he will end the war and bring all the troops home in 2014, what he really means is that he will bring home the extra troops that he sent there with while keeping all the troops that Bush had there.
Despite what Obama has said in debates and on the campaign trail, the Taliban are not beaten and the Afghans are not ready to take over. The only reason that the Taliban haven’t taken Kabul is because of the ISAF forces. We can’t pull out without handing a victory to the Taliban, and after Obama’s attempts at winning over the “moderate” Taliban failed, he has no choice but to stay in, while lying about it.
There is no actual timetable for ending the War in Afghanistan because there is no plan for defeating the Taliban. Without either defeating or co-opting the Taliban, the only remaining option is a complete unilateral withdrawal followed by the Taliban taking over.
Finally there’s Iraq. Obama built his political career on attacks on the Iraq War. And unlike Afghanistan and Libya, he did eventually withdraw from Iraq. But just because the United States withdrew from Iraq, did not mean that Iraq withdrew from the United States.
Obama falsely claimed that his Iraq to Afghanistan pivot was motivated by a need to focus on battling Al Qaeda. In truth, Al Qaeda had a much larger presence in Iraq than it did in Afghanistan and its Iraqi franchise has continued carrying out large scale suicide bombings and has even found ways to continue murdering Americans after Obama’s botched withdrawal.
A core group of the Benghazi consulate attackers were from Al Qaeda in Iraq, according to reports, and AQI bomb makers prepared explosives for a massive attack on the American embassy in Jordan.
The ghosts of Baghdad caught up to Obama in Benghazi and that won’t be the last attack on Americans carried out by Al Qaeda in Iraq. Nor are we through with Iraq as a country. While nothing that happens there makes the news anymore, Iraq has joined the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis of Shiite terror. And Iraq’s recent purchase of Russian aircraft will give it the freedom to attack American manufactured aircraft.
If Obama attempts to intervene in Syria, the result is likely to be a second or third Iraq War. But even if he doesn’t, the growing tensions between Iraqi Kurdistan and the Shiite federal government may drag us in anyway. For now, Obama has backed the Shiite federalists in their dispute with the Kurds, but as Maliki moves into the Russian orbit, we will have a choice between opposing Iran’s Iraqi clients in the coming Iraqi civil war or abandoning our Sunni and Kurdish allies to a Shiite slaughter.
Obama will have the option of staying out of the Iraqi civil war, but not of pretending that everything was wrapped up neatly with a pink ribbon when he pulled out.
Whatever one’s opinion of these three wars may be, Obama’s claims that these wars are over is insultingly dishonest. Wars only end when an enemy is defeated or no longer has the incentive to fight. Neither of those conditions obtains in Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. Not only have our enemies not been defeated, but they have been given more power and scope for planning the next wave of atrocities.
September 11, 2012, was a wake up call. If we don’t pay attention to it, there will be worse things waiting for us than burning embassies.
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