Barack Obama understood well that his re-election depended in part on his ability to convince the public that a Democrat could be trusted with national security. How could any American believe that the party of guilt-ridden whiners would stand firm in the face of an attack on America? How could any American believe that the party that had demeaned and denigrated every piece of George Bush’s anti-terrorism strategy would defend the homeland?
Obama gave himself and his party credibility with one grand theatrical gesture and several important sideshows. He ordered the summary execution of Osama bin Laden and blew up a number of al Qaeda potentates with drone missiles.
During his re-election campaign he could plausibly claim that “al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead.” It sounded much better than saying that al Qaeda had metastasized.
Surely, these were all to the good. But they were only a piece of the Obama policy.
In truth, as Obama was walking away from the hard fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and as he was bungling the Arab Spring, al Qaeda was growing and thriving.
Not only did the Arab Spring bring with it a flowering of Islamist movements across the Middle East and North Africa, but the Obama administration actively sided with Islamists in many of the turmoil-ridden Muslim countries.
When the leader of today’s Egypt says that America turned its back on the Egyptian people, he is saying that America sided with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Evidently, the September, 2012 attack on the Benghazi consulate did not fit the administration narrative, so it suppressed the true story. In order to exculpate Islamic terrorists, Obama sent its flunkies out to peddle the line that the murder of Ambassador Stevens, to say nothing of the attacks on the American Embassy in Cairo had been provoked by a Youtube video.
Al Qaeda recruiters took notice. Don’t you think that they felt disrespected? Don’t you think that they would defend their honor by producing an attack that is unmistakably theirs?
The assassination of bin Laden and the drone attacks notwithstanding, administration policy involved a peculiar piece of sophistry. From Joe Biden on down, Democratic and progressive intellectuals have been saying that American policy, specifically in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib were crucially important terrorist recruiting tools.
The logic of the argument leads to the conclusion that fighting back against terrorists is their ultimate recruiting weapon. If so, we should stop fighting back, open the prisons and to let the terrorists loose. Presto, no more terrorists.
One cannot imagine that anyone with a triple-digit IQ would believe such mental drool, but major leftist intellectuals do believe it. Witness the recent article by Therese Postel in The Atlantic.
Of course, Postel is following the path cleared by Andrew Sullivan, but Postel lays out her own guilt trip about Guantanamo. We are offending the terrorists; we are depriving them of due process; we are ignoring their God-given human rights. And we are making ourselves more contemptible in the process. Thus, by implication, we are making ourselves more worthy of being attacked.
Like many before her, Postel agonizes over the fact that al Qaeda is using Gitmo as a major terrorist recruiting tool. To buttress her argument she regales us with passages from al Qaeda propaganda tools that demonstrate, for those who have not given the matter much thought, that aspiring young jihadis take up arms against the West because they are grievously offended at the practices at Gitmo.
To some extent, the texts are unambiguous. Al Qaeda propaganda does mention Gitmo all the time.
Yet, the naivete of people like Postel and Sullivan is breathtaking. Apparently, it never crossed their minds that in the midst of a war, al Qaeda propaganda needs to be seen as psy-ops? As a paramilitary organization, al Qaeda must show its recruits that it will never forget them and will never leave them behind. It has recently shown its resolve by freeing a large number of terrorists from the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.
Remember Abu Ghraib, that indelible stain on American honor, worthy of dozens of major exposes from the New York Times. Now that hundreds of terrorists have been sprung from prison, however, no American progressives are gnashing their teeth.
Let’s try a little thought experiment. If you were in the al Qaeda leadership and you wanted to demonstrate your loyalty to your captured comrades and even get them released from prison, how would you go about it? Wouldn’t you try to prey on the weakness of American liberals? Wouldn’t you try to play off of their guilt? Wouldn’t you tell them that, by keeping prisoners in what Postel calls the “hell” of Gitmo you are advancing the terrorist cause?
Of course, you would. It is the only way you will ever convince America to release even more imprisoned terrorists. Who better than an American leftist to believe that these poor, persecuted Muslims would never have done anything bad if we had not spurred them on, and, of course, if we had not deserved. At the least, al Qaeda propaganda shows aspiring terrorists that it will never give up on them.
Yet, the weak-willed denizens of the American left are torturing themselves over Gitmo and declaring that Gitmo is why Islamists are fighting America.
The manifest weakness of the Obama policy seems to have emboldened the terrorists. The more Obama tried to conciliate with them and their allies in the Muslim Brotherhood, the more they see themselves winning. And nothing inspires new recruits more than being on the winning side.
Max Boot chronicles the resurgence of al Qada:
News of al-Qaeda’s imminent demise was, it seems, greatly exaggerated. In fact, while the terrorist network has suffered substantial losses, including of course the loss of its co-founder, Osama bin Laden, it has displayed dismaying resilience. Far from going out of business, al-Qaeda has spread, via its regional affiliates, to North Africa (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), the Persian Gulf region (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), and Iraq and Syria (al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
The North African affiliate was behind the temporary takeover of northern Mali and, in all likelihood, the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya; the Arabian affiliate has plotted attacks on the American homeland and American interests abroad and made substantial inroads in Yemen; and the Iraq/Syria branch has set off more bombs in Iraq than at any time since 2008 and freed hundreds of its confederates from Abu Ghraib prison, while also emerging as the strongest single force within the Syrian rebel movement.
Great job, Barack.
As of last week, American embassies in the Islamic world over have been shut down because the administration picked up a highly credible threat of major terrorist operations. Bill Kristol pointed out: “A year ago Obama said al Qaeda was on the run…. Now we seem to be on the run.”
Lindsey Graham offered this analysis:
They attacked our consulate, they killed an ambassador, a year has passed, and nobody has paid a price. After Benghazi, these al Qaeda types are really on steroids thinking we’re weaker and they’re stronger.
The truth is so clear that even Lindsey Graham sees it. He is saying that once we allowed al Qaeda to attack an American consulate and murder an ambassador with impunity it has been using its success as a recruiting tool.
Think about it. The Obama administration tortured itself promoting the narrative that the Benghazi attack was not terrorism. Could there be a better sign of American weakness and a better tool for recruiting terrorists?
Who, after all, are the terrorists' real recruitment tools?