Even for those who have consitently criticized the foreign policy of the Obama Administration, it is stunning how quickly the disasters have come upon us. Yes, they warned that power abhors a vacuum, and if the United States refuses to assert its power and influence, other forces will rush in to fill the international void. But did even the Administration's critics ever imagine that matters would go so terribly wrong so quickly?
During his 2012 re-election campaign, President Obama boasted that Osama Bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda was on the run. On the run, indeed. Today, as I write this post, the troops of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an Al Qaeda spinoff, have overrun Mosul, Iraq's largest city, and are running with captured American weapons, including armor and artillery, toward Baghdad.
ISIS now controls a huge swath of territory that includes northwest and central Iraq and a generous strip of Syria along the Iraqi-Syrian border. With access to the oil fields and cash reserves they captured in Mosul, ISIS has been called the world's richest terrorist group. ISIS may be said to have established the first Al Qaeda proto-state.
Almost as horrific as what has already occurred are the prospects of a widening regional confrontation. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that two battalions of Iranian Quds Forces (Iran's Special Forces) have joined Iraqi Shi'ite troops and are battling ISIS in the streets of Tikrit.
Some analysts say that the Iraqi fighting is a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, which is funding and supplying ISIS, and Iran. If so, the confrontation is increasingly becoming less proxy and more direct. The Saudis, frustrated by American fecklessness, are looking elsewhere for military resources. They recently displayed on parade Chinese missiles capable of reaching Tehran. Tehran certainly is reciprocating.
Incredibly, while all this goes down, the Obama Administration continues to promote its accomplishments in Iraq, and the achievements of its former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Even as the ISIS troops overran Mosul, White House spokesperson Josh Earnest, responding to a question regarding Secretary Clinton's accomplishments during her tenure, remarked, "Ending the war in Iraq and winding down in a responsible fashion the war in Afghanistan, and doing that after the success of our our efforts to dismantle and destroyed Al-Qaida core that had established a base of operations in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan.” As Mark Steyn observed, losing a war is one way of ending it.
Certainly the juxtaposition of Iraq and Afghanistan is apt. What we are seeing today in Iraq may be a foretaste of a Taliban and Al Qaeda resurgence in Afghanisan, once the United States completes its cut-and-run there.
And one should not think that the other challengers to the crumbling American empire will pause to watch what is going on in the Middle East. The Ukraine today charged that Russian tanks as well as other military vehicles crossed the border into the Ukraine, triggering a skirmish between Russian and Ukrainian troops.
In reviewing the foreign policy accomplishments of the Obama Administration, let us not ignore the efforts of the current Secretary of State, John Kerry. During the months when Libya disintegrated, Russia seized Crimea, the Taliban regrouped in Afghanistan, civil war destroyed Syria, and that conflict spilled over into Iraq in spectacular fashion, threatening a regional confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, what preoccupied Secretary Kerry? He, President Obama, and the sages of the European Union, as well, concluded that the greatest threat to world peace was Jews building apartments in Jerusalem, Judah and Shomron.