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October 18, 2012: Grappling with Complexities

October 18, 2012

Multiple complexities, actually.  There is very little that is being dealt with these days that is simple and above board.

Just days ago I cited an article from the NYTimes that discussed the issue of why Obama spent two weeks avoiding the fact that what happened in Benghazi was terrorism.  It was the opinion of the author, Ross Douthat, that Obama was loathe to admit that US actions in Libya had created a vacuum that made it more possible for terrorists, notably al-Qaeda, to operate

I wrote at that time that, while it was not directly relevant to Douthat’s point, it should be noted that “Obama’s meddling in Libya also created a situation, still on-going, in which weapons that had belonged to Ghaddafi found their way out of the country and into the hands of Islamists.”


And now, Barry Rubin has put out a piece that is very pertinent and potentially of great import with regard to issues of weapons in the hands of terrorists.  It goes beyond anything I had suggested.  (I thank Bennett R. for calling this to my attention — it had slipped by me.)

Rubin explains that the official reason given for Ambassador Stevens being in Benghazi was to investigate the building of a new school and hospital there, and notes that this would have been something so minor that the president might not have been aware of it.  However, he then writes (emphasis added):

“…as accounts by sources in the U.S. intelligence community suggested, negotiating with a terrorist, anti-American group to obtain the return of U.S. weapons provided during the civil war, that would have been a much higher-priority matter. I have been asked by sources not to reveal the specific weapons system that was Washington’s highest priority to buy back, but the details make sense.”  That is, there is every reason to think that Obama would have signed off on this.

To acknowledge the cause of the attack would have been to acknowledge the real threat in the Middle East and the embarrassing fact that American weapons had been given to terrorist, anti-American groups. Incidentally, far from learning anything in Libya, Obama is now doing precisely the same thing in Syria.

“To acknowledge the nature of the attack would be to show the depth of the security failure — on September 11 of all days — in not recognizing the danger in Benghazi.”

Not just weapons seized by terrorists in the vacuum created when Ghaddafi was taken down, but weapons given to terrorists by the US (in their fight against Ghaddafi).

Continues Rubin (this an echo of what Douthat suggested):

“To admit that al-Qaeda is still very much in business would show that Obama’s claim the group had been defeated was false and demonstrate the limited value of killing Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaeda is, of course, still strong in Yemen and Somalia as well as having active groups in the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Syria, and other places.

Rubin cites Obama, who said during the debate that, “…I said I’d end the war in Libya — in Iraq, and I did. I said that we’d go after al-Qaida and bin Laden. We have…”

Rubin then observes, “What Obama should have said is that he would end U.S. combat presence in these countries. Yet the wars continue. The assassination of the U.S. ambassador to Libya was an event in that war.”



Now, please, see what Shoshana Bryen of the Jewish Policy Center has to say about this same issue of Obama’s claim that he has ended wars (emphasis added):

“The unwillingness of the Obama administration to label the September occupation of American diplomatic facilities in Cairo and Benghazi, and the murder of an American diplomat ‘acts of war’ make this an opportune moment to consider…lessons emanating from more than a decade of warfare in the Arab and Moslem world…

Our adversaries in this war are not defined by time or territory, although they have more of both than we do. No defeat is definitive.

“In August, President Obama went to Ft. Bliss to celebrate the anniversary of the end of combat operations in Iraq. He included the impending withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan as he told the troops, ‘Make no mistake, ending the wars responsibly makes us safer and our military even stronger, and ending these wars is letting us do something else; restoring American leadership.’

“The soldiers sat mainly in silence, understanding perhaps better than he that the wars have not been ended – responsibly or otherwise. The American presence and influence in the region is waning, but ‘the war’ against us goes on. It is fought by people who need the United States as an organizing principle, and who will not be dissuaded by our absence, our reluctance to cooperate with Israel, or the President’s flattery….

“…America’s primary enemies in the Middle East take a different view of both territory and defeat than Nazi Germany or even Saddam. For al Qaeda, territory is valuable as a staging ground, training ground or hideout, but the war travels. Terrorism can be conducted anywhere — New York, Bali, London, Bulgaria or Jerusalem — and the aim is less territory-specific than ideological, religious and dictatorial. The Taliban in Afghanistan harbored Al Qaeda, but the CIA now estimates that fewer than 1,000 remain, the remainder having fanned out in Africa, Asia and elsewhere in the Middle East…

“Al Qaeda presents its adversaries with a sort of ‘whack a mole’ problem – hit it here, it goes underground and pops up somewhere else. Killing its leadership, which has become an American pastime, does reduce its effectiveness, but leadership can regenerate if it has space and time. There is no one to acknowledge defeat and no one to surrender….

“…In a few short paragraphs, [Obama] defined the American battle to change Afghanistan from what it was to what he wished it to be. For a President who accused his predecessor of hubris in foreign policy, President Obama made similarly arrogant assumptions:

[] Demanding American-style anti-corruption measures and a strong Western-style government in a country with no history of either.

[] Assuming some Afghans would choose Americans over other Afghans.

[] Assuming any choice was permanent…

[] Announcing our future departure and assuming any order the U.S. and its allies created would outlast our presence.

[] Assuming at least some Taliban would assimilate Western-style ‘human rights’ in order to reap Western-style benefits.

“…September’s outburst of violence is the next phase of a transnational war based on religious ideology, and it includes wars waged not only by organizations, but also by Iran. There are those who call outright for violence against the U.S. (al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Salafists). But those who are presently more circumspect in the expectation of political and financial gain (the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah) seek our destruction no less than the others. There are Sunni elements and Shiite elements; separately they despise one another, but together they despise us more.”



This is very frightening stuff, requiring a sophisticated understanding of the situation and enormous resolve.

People ask me sometimes why I think Obama is so bad — for them he seems to be doing OK.

THIS is why Obama terrifies me: He has neither a sophisticated understanding of the situation nor enormous resolve.  His simplistic policies represent a danger to the US and the free world.  Sure, some people think he’s doing OK. It’s a lot more comfortable to accept his version of the situation. 

But it’s also lethal.


Next week we will see the last of the presidential debates — this one on foreign policy.  Not long after, the American people go to the polls.

It is my fervent hope that everyone who receives this will read the material with concentration, and take it to heart.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.



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