The seeds Barack Obama planted with American apologies, American money, and American military assistance in the Arab Spring are being harvested now as we enter the Arab Fall.
That harvest is, as anyone not a fool would have predicted, a harvest of anti-American hatred, violence, murder, animosity, and fanaticism that spans the Arab world. That harvest is not yet fully in the barn, and it won’t be until the threat of a nuclear Iran as been eliminated and the future of Israel secured. Toward that end, the president has not stopped Iran at all. Indeed, he has hardly even slowed it down. He talks, indeed he talks frequently, but his talk has stopped nothing, unless one perhaps asserts that his talk show appearances have stopped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from visiting Obama, though it did not stop the representatives of the Muslin Brotherhood in Egypt from doing so.
Barack Obama has forgotten, if ever he knew, that no nation has ever been attacked for being too strong. But plenty of nations have been attacked for being weak, whether that weakness was real or merely perceived. His apologies make us look weak. His actions make us weak in fact. In the Arab world, that is a gold-embossed invitation to conflict.
We are weak because he has not issued credible pronouncements to host nations in the Arab world that our embassies will be protected from violence one of two ways: Either the host nation will provide that iron-clad protection or else we will do it ourselves with our own soldiers, our own equipment, in our own way, under own our command, and in our own timing. Because those host nations have failed abjectly to provide for our diplomats what every other civilized country has provided as a matter of course, whether those nations are friend or foe, Barack Obama must tell the now-negligent Arab countries that the second option is the only option left. He must tell them that we will protect ourselves to whatever degree we, not they, think is necessary, and do so in ways we, not they, think are suitable. He must say this not as bluster but as settled policy.
When Obama takes this burden of self-protection upon us, he must never forget that even preparing for a worst-case scenario might not be enough because in the Arab world simply to prepare for the worst case is sometimes too optimistic. Either that or close down our embassies there and their embassies here. If our Arab counterparts wish for the diplomatic option to remain open, then they must provide a safe arena in which it can take place, just as we do.
Judging from his own actions and his own words, both before he became president and after, Barack Obama is either incapable of, or unwilling to, produce the resolve needed to deal effectively with nations dominated by the religion of his father, of his step-father, and of his own early education. He is shockingly unprepared for Islamic violence. As a result, he leaves his own diplomats ridiculously under-protected. Marines without bullets is not adequate protection for melting ice cream, much less for an embassy or a consulate, and certainly not in Arab nations, not now.
By saying “not now,” I am not saying that this threat and this violence are new or that they are the result of an obscure, low budget, amateurish, and highly deplorable film against Islam. Perhaps I might think so if this violence hadn’t been going on for 1,500 years and occurred simultaneously in multiple countries on the anniversary of 9/11.
Right now, Barack Obama must do two things:
First, and most importantly, he must, as Netanyahu insists, draw a line in the sand for Iran. That line should demand that Iran cease its nuclear weapons procurement efforts and that it open its nuclear program to full and unfettered outside inspection. He also must place a deadline on that compliance, a deadline very, very close at hand. He should state unequivocally what the consequences of noncompliance will be, and make those consequences staggeringly harsh so that no other course but compliance is remotely feasible. If he does not, Iran will not comply and very likely a regional nuclear war will ensue (assuming any nuclear war can actually remain regional). Iran must see not even the slightest crack of daylight between us and our Israeli allies. To see a even a small such crack is to invite Iran to think it can divide and conquer.
Second, and more easily, because the photos surrounding the murder of Ambassador Stevens and his three colleagues are numerous, clear, and widely available, Obama must demand that the Libyan government assist us in identifying, tracking down, and bringing to justice the killers and their cohorts. We cannot trust the Libyans themselves to do it any more than we could trust them to keep the American compound and its occupants safe in the first place.
Barack Obama must remember that inaction is action. He must not permit it of himself or his Arab counterparts. We already are sliding toward war in the Middle East.
The war train is coming. The engineer’s chair is empty. Obama needs to fill it and bring that train to an immediate halt.