Barack Obama's tenure as commander-in-chief has not exactly been characterized by success. What comes next, however, may make his record to date look like the good old days.
To be sure, on his watch, an extraordinary intelligence-special forces team liquidated Osama bin Laden and drones have dispatched a number of other "high value targets" in what the president calls our "war on al-Qaida."
These are morale-boosting tactical achievements, but in the great scheme of things are more like whack-a-mole than strategic victories. Much more important is the fact that Obama is in the process of losing the two wars he inherited, and making a hash-up of the one he initiated in Libya.
Worse, Obama is actively encouraging trends that threaten to unleash the next, horrific regional war in the Mideast — a war that may well embroil nations far beyond, including ours.
The president's mishandling of the present conflicts has set the stage for such dangers: His earlier insistence on withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq and his abiding determination to pull out virtually all others by year's end has, as a practical matter, made it impossible for the government in Baghdad to ask us to stay on.
Even if the Iranian puppet, Muqtada al-Sadr, were not threatening if Americans are invited to stay to relaunch his Madi army's sectarian warfare and bring down the coalition government (in which his party is a prominent part), the Iraqis can hardly be more in favor of maintaining an American presence than we are.
The predictable result in Iraq next year (if not before) will be a vacuum of power that Iran surely will fill. State Department and other Americans left behind, in the hope that the immense investment we have made in lives and treasure in Iraq's democratic and pro-Western future will not be squandered, stand to become endangered species.
The ironic symbol of our defeat may be the takeover in due course of the immense new U.S. embassy in Baghdad by Iranians — this time by invited diplomats, not the hostage-taking "students" of 1979.
Afghanistan — now no longer George Bush's war, but Barack Obama's — is, if anything, in even worse shape. There, despite the valor of our troops and others trying to build a 21st century nation out of a backwards 6th Century tribal/Islamist entity, we are in the process of negotiating the Afghans' surrender to the Taliban.
Again, the President's insistence that U.S. forces will begin coming out of theater this summer signals to friends and foes alike that we will not stay the course.
The only question now is: How ignominious will be our defeat at the hands of those we routed after 9/11, and their Pakistani, Chinese, Iranian, and Russian friends?
Then, there is Obama's first "elective war": his ill-considered, incoherent, congressionally unauthorized and, to date at least, unsuccessful campaign in Libya. Obama has tried to limit the costs and offload responsibility for this fiasco onto the French, British, and other NATO allies. Once again U.S. forces have performed their missions impressively — but, to what end?
We are now aligned with, defending, and increasingly supporting "rebels" who, if anything, are likely to be more dangerous enemies of the United States than Moammar Gadhafi.
Which brings us to Obama's next war. In his speech last week to what he calls "the Muslim world," the president made it U.S. policy to support whoever manages to get elected in the various nations of North Africa and the Middle East currently undergoing political upheavals.
As a practical matter, that will mean legitimating, working with, and underwriting the Muslim Brotherhood, since they are far and away the most organized, disciplined, and ruthless of the contenders for power in country after country.
History tells us that such people — from Hitler in Weimar Germany to Hamas in the Gaza Strip — win even "free and fair" elections, which then amount to one-man, one-vote, one-time. (For more on the deadly nature and agenda of the MB or Ikhwan, see last week's column in this space
President Obama's openness (to put it mildly) to bringing the Brotherhood to power was manifested not only by his pledge to forgive $1 billion in Egyptian debt and to provide it another billion in additional foreign aid.
Just as he did in his last much-ballyhooed "outreach" to Muslims in Cairo two years ago, Team Obama had one of the top Muslim Brothers — Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Ikhwan's largest front group in this country, the Islamic Society of North America — prominently seated in the audience at the State Department.
Beyond his embrace of the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood, Barack Obama has helped catalyze the next Mideast war by declaring that Israel must return to the 1967 borders, whose indefensibility induced the Arab nations to precipitate the Six-Day War of that year.
However much the President may deny it, and point to others as supporting a "two-state solution" based on such borders, the Jewish State cannot survive without the high ground, strategic depth, and aquifers of the Golan Heights and West Bank. Period.
It is in America's vital interests to deter more wars in the Mideast, not invite them. If President Obama persists in the latter, his already checkered record as commander-in-chief may be best remembered as the man who elected to precipitate World War III.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times, and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.
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