Lessons To Be Learned
The question after the recent terrorist attacks is met with gnashing of teeth and admonishments but will anything change? It begins at the top, and in the past century, we have been blessed with great leaders such as Churchill, FDR, Reagan, and Thatcher who could issue the clear clarion call defense of Western Civilization.
There is one problem today, we have no Churchill, no Thatcher, and no Reagan or for that matter, no George W. Bush whose foreign policy has often been blamed, but at least he understood the basic threat. Today, leadership is missing in action. It starts at the top, but as I made the case over the past couple of years, Obama's foreign policy is a disaster and the Middle East is the number one exhibit of that failure. From the beginning, Obama made it clear that he was not Bush and wanted to reverse Bush’s policies and retreat from the Middle East, and world responsibility while building a new America at home. Now after seven years, we know the results. ISIS has become a power broker in the Middle East and has proven to be Al-Qaeda on steroids, and Obama's negotiations have essentially guaranteed Iran will be a nuclear power. He is allowing Iran to establish their own hegemony including Syria, Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza strip and much of Iraq not controlled by ISIS or the Kurds, the last remnants of a dependable pro United States force left in Iraq. Even our Allies like Egypt are now talking with the Russians, long given up on the idea that an Obama led United States will protect them.
The fecklessness of the Obama/Clinton/Kerry foreign policy can be seen in the proclamation that our greatest problem is climate change, but then only a leftist can decide they can change climate as if they are gods. While the dead are being buried at the end of this month, our leaders will meet in Paris to deal with climate change and this attack will be pushed to the back page.
I am not going to excuse Republicans since they also have a responsibility to promote alternatives and so far, this debate has been muddled. The Rand Paul wing of the Party has had an impact, even if Paul has not been a significant factor in the polls. His point that much of the failure has its roots in Bush’s invasion of Iraq has been picked up by Trump and Carson. As I have explained in the past, the real failure has been Obama's refusal to leave troops in Iraq as his own military chiefs recommended. This would have meant that the United States would have left 20,000 troops in place but how much different the Middle East would have been if those troops would have been there? Does anyone believe that ISIS would have penetrated Iraq or that the Iraqi government would have turned to Iran? What if Obama had been more supportive of the Iranians who took to the street over fixed elections in 2009 instead of siding with the government. Could the history of the present regime been changed? When Republicans accept the “Bush is to blame" argument, it makes it more difficult for those Republicans to criticize Hillary Clinton's conduct of foreign policy in the general election.
It will be imperative for Republicans not just to criticize Obama/Clinton’s foreign policy but design an alternative vision for an American foreign policy in the twenty first century beginning with identifying American national interests and how to defend it. It is not enough to say more defense spending but define what American military should look like in the twenty first century. So far, we have yet to see this from any of the candidates. The Paris attacks have simply reminded us that war on terror is still with us and that the same forces that killed 3000 Americans fourteen years ago are still with us.