How Obama Lost the Middle East
Obama kept posturing to the world that he would close Guantanamo and substitute civilian trials for military tribunals. He continued to say that he did not enjoy using renditions or drones — even as he upped the latter’s deadly missions tenfold.
The results were contradictory messages that encouraged radical Islamists. The conclusion radical Islamists drew was that even the Obama administration had admitted its anti-terrorism protocols were either morally questionable or ineffective.
Blaming a video maker instead of immediately taking out the known jihadists who had murdered Americans in Benghazi only reinforced that mixed message. So did exchanging five terrorist kingpins in Guantanamo for an alleged American military deserter in Afghanistan.
A series of empty Middle East red lines, deadlines, and withdrawal dates likewise reinforced the idea of American abdication.
We warned Syria of air strikes and then backed down. We surged in Afghanistan only to simultaneously announce a withdrawal date for our troops. We issued Iran lots of deadlines to stop enriching uranium, only to forget them and end sanctions in hope of negotiations.
I would go further.
Obama refused to lift a finger, or even raise his voice, to help or encourage Iran's abortive Green Revolution in 2009 -- effectively siding with the Mullahs. By sabotaging the Status of Forces negotiations with Iraq, Obama demonstrated he was not militarily serious. In Libya he showed he was willing to destroy, but not to build. Benghazi showed he would lie to his own people -- us -- to hide the nature of the threat against us. In Egypt he picked the wrong side so many times, and always late to do even that, that he showed he could be easily out-flanked and out-thought. Syria... jeebus, but Syria.
It may only be due to the sheer momentum of American power that we have any standing left in the Middle East at all. But it won't last much longer.