Obama has now admitted three very important things.
First, the war on terrorism has not been won.
Second, the war on al-Qaeda has not been won, since its continued campaigning is undeniable and it has even grown in Syria — partly thanks to U.S. policy.
Third, the biggest threat on the American homeland is autonomous terrorists who have been inspired by al-Qaeda but are not technically part of the organization. (That allows Obama to claim to be winning the war on al-Qaeda).
What he has not yet admitted: that the Muslim Brotherhood and other terrorist groups or sponsors controlling Egypt, Tunisia, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Turkey, Sudan, Syria, and Iran, while terrorists run free in the Palestinian Authority, Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, is not conducive to the protection of America against terrorism. The fact that his policy promotes some of these problems makes things even worse.
Yet the new, expensive, expansive, and time-consuming technological methods are relatively ineffective against the current priorities of anti-American terrorist groups.
Incidentally, Obama policy has been disastrous against radical Islamists. Compared to the time Obama came to office, the Islamists who support violence against America now rule Egypt, Tunisia, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and perhaps soon Syria. Offenses have been stepped up in Somalia and Yemen; are being maintained in Iraq; and still rule over Syria and Iran. In Turkey, an Islamist terror-supporting regime has been embraced by Obama.
This represents a massive retreat, even if it is a largely unnoticed one.
So the problem of growing government spying is three-fold.
– It is against the American system and reduces liberty.
– It is a misapplication of resources. Money is being spent and liberty sacrificed for no real gain.
– Since government decision-making and policy about international terrorism is terrible, the threat is increasing.
If you don’t get value or enhanced security while freedom is being reduced and the enemy is getting stronger, $1 trillion certainly isn’t a bargain.
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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His next book, Nazis, Islamists and the Making of the Modern Middle East, written with Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, will be published by Yale University Press in January 2014. His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, also published by Yale. Thirteen of his books can be read and downloaded for free at the website of the GLORIA Center including The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East and The Truth About Syria. His blog is Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.