Jewish World Review July 3, 2014 / 5 Tammuz, 5774
Obama seeks an escape from the Middle East
By Victor Davis Hanson
In his first term,
As he precipitously pulled out all U.S. peacekeepers from
Those claims echoed Vice President
After the death of
But what exactly was the new Obama strategy that supposedly had all but achieved a victory in the larger war on terror amid
Fuzzy euphemisms replaced supposedly hurtful terms like "terrorism," "jihadist" and "Islamist." The administration gave well-meaning speeches exaggerating Islamic achievement while citing past American culpability.
We tilted toward
Middle Easterners gathered that a bruised America would limp away from the region and pivot its forces elsewhere, saving billions of dollars to be better spent at home. The new soft-power rhetorical approach sought to win over the hearts and minds of the
To grade that policy, survey the current
So what happened?
In short, the Obama administration put politics and ideology ahead of a disinterested and nonpartisan examination of the actual status of the 2009
The more Obama campaigned in 2008 on a failed war in
But there remained one caveat: What had been won on the ground could be just as easily lost if the U.S. did not leave behind peacekeepers in the manner that it had in all its past successful interventions -- the Balkans,
Likewise, the once-derided "war on terror" measures -- Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, military tribunals, preventative detentions, renditions and drones -- by 2009 had largely worked. Since 9/11, America had foiled dozens of terrorist plots against our homeland and neutralized terrorists abroad, killing tens of thousands in both
Obama for a while privately accepted that truth and thereby continued many of the very protocols that he had once derided.
But there was again one problem. 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
A series of empty
As was the case with
But newly emboldened terrorists gambled that the old deterrence was stale and now existed mostly as Obama's reset rhetoric. They gambled that it was a great time to go on the offensive. They may have been right.
Once more in the
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution and Stanford University.
© 2014 Tribune Content Agency, LLC