Last week, largely ignored by the US media, a large number of foreigners were taken hostage by jihadist terrorists in southern Algeria. Many were killed; we don't know how many, because the US government has no influence with, and negligible presence in, Algeria. The Algerian government has so little interest in the opinion of such weak sisters as Obama, Cameron and Hollande it simply declined to take their 'phone calls, deciding instead to show Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb that, unlike for other governments, we do not negotiate with terrorists is more than an empty slogan for the Algerians.
Meanwhile, France is fighting a shooting war with other islamists in Mali. We're covering some of their logistics; the US is now the world's UPS. Libya is an anarchic mess where a US ambassador was killed without repercussions and the administration's principal interest was covering up its own negligence. Egypt is in the hands of the Moslem Brotherhood and a president who describes the Israelis as the sons of pigs and monkeys. We ensured his election by withdrawing support of Mubarak, another ally. The White House's under- and ham-handed efforts to interfere in Israeli elections have likely backfired, convincing much of Israel of what Netanyahu already knows; that American under Obama is no friend. It will be even less of a friend if the execrable Chuck Hagel is confirmed. Syria is a bloodbath, over which Obama has twiddled his thumbs. Thanks to Obama, we have no troop presence in Iraq, and we are pulling out of Afghanistan in indecent haste, practically inviting the Taliban to take over again. Our presence in the region is limited to remote-controlled drone-strikes, which further alienate the populace.
In other words, North Africa and most of the Middle-East are a anarchic mess where America is simply irrelevant. Al Qaeda are stronger than they were at the end of Clinton's administration. And Americans would be unwise to travel to the region wiothout substantial private security, because it's clear the State Department and the US armed forces will not raise a finger to help anyone, even our own diplomatic personnel.
If there's one tiny silver lining to this comprehensive disaster, it's in a column by Tim Montgomerie in today's London Times, plaintively headlined We need the world's policeman back on duty. Some prime quotes:
Again and again Mr. Obama has taken the wrong decisions in the still early stages of this longest of struggles...the lightly-armed, all-smiles policeman of the Obama years is too ready to please the crowds, afraid to do anything other than hide behind often-inaccurate drone attacks...the world [can't] afford another four years of drift and detachment.The silver lining is that the rest of the civilized world is waking up and realizing, while the Democrats are a major party supported by a huge and feckless proportion of the American electorate, that it can't rely on America to play a significant role in keeping the peace. Perhaps, just perhaps, they might learn that reducing their defense spending to near zero has, as it should have, rendered them defenseless. We can only hope.
Meanwhile, in four years, some of us will have to pick up the pieces.