Parties in the Middle East may see a U.S. hand in this week’s suicide bombing that killed Syria’s Defense Minister and a number of senior security officials. British Foreign Minister William Hague, to his credit, condemned the attack, but there was silence from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and President Obama. Within American political circles, the failure to condemn an abhorrent act is generally viewed as an endorsement of that act.
Contrast that with the Obama Administration’s response to this week’s suicide bombing in Aybak, the capital of the Afghan province of Samangan, which killed a group of senior Afghan security officials who were attending a wedding. U.S. General John Allen immediately called it a “senseless and cowardly act of insurgent terror,” a “despicable act” and referred to suicide attacks as acts of terror. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a press release, which reads, “The United States condemns in the strongest terms the suicide attack.” On July 19, 2012, at the State Department’s daily briefing, its spokesperson, Patrick Ventrell, was asked to comment on the suicide bombing in Syria and all he would say is that it was a “major incident.”
Apparently, Obama Administration policy is that suicide bombers are good if they are attacking U.S. adversaries and evil if they are attacking U.S. friends. This hypocritical stance was born in the early 1980’s when the U.S. supported Islamic extremists who were fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan. That support for Usama bin Laden and other radicals came back to haunt the United States, but the government did not learn any lessons from that debacle. The Obama Administration’s policy in Syria, and in Iran where it continues to support the anti-Iranian MEK terrorist group, undermines the global war on terror. If there are good terrorists, and if the United States’ surrogates use terrorist tactics, that softens the label of “terrorist.” Criminal groups who target civilians in order to spread terror are particularly heinous, and deserve universal condemnation and prosecution. The problem is that if both sides use the same tactics, then the “terrorist” label becomes simply a synonym for one’s adversaries (i.e., everyone who opposes the U.S. is a terrorist and everyone who criticizes the U.S. is a terrorist supporter or sympathizer).
The decline in moral values within U.S. foreign policy is evident across the board. Secretary of State Clinton continues to support her old friend Islam Karimov, the brutal dictator in Uzbekistan, while the United States’ allies have largely been reduced to a bevy of repressive regimes from Vietnam to Tajikistan to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Algeria and Morocco. The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan (Cameron Munter) has resigned, reportedly because the U.S. rejected his call for better relations with Pakistan. The Obama Administration opted instead for more drone strikes and confrontation. The U.S. Ambassador in Kabul has resigned after a disastrous Tokyo conference in which the host (Japan) failed to obtain international pledges of assistance for Afghanistan of $18 billion over the next four years. Instead a bare minimum of $16 billion was pledged, with unspecified strings and conditions attached. Historically, because only a percentage of pledged aid ever reaches a needy country, the Tokyo conference leaves the Afghan Government in dire financial straits.
The moral ambiguity within the Obama Administration is reflected in the June 2012 Pew Global Attitudes Project poll. It reveals a dramatic decline in world opinion about the United States. Pew reports that the drop is due to a loss in confidence in President Obama due to missteps and unpopular policies in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.
What the Western news media is missing is that the Obama Administration’s foreign policy is adrift. While the Pentagon and CIA have become adept at targeted killings, those are counter-terrorism tactics. What is missing is a global counter-terrorism strategy. The Pew Global poll shows that the U.S. tactics are backfiring as they are slowly destroying America’s image around the world. If that trend is not arrested it will ultimately lead to more sympathy for anti-Western forces and groups, which will lead to greater acceptance of such groups operating in local communities and a larger pool of recruits for terrorist groups. Secretary Clinton’s response is to circle the wagons by falling back on an array of repressive regimes that provide the illusion of peace and security. These alliances are dangerous steps in the wrong direction.
The principles of America’s founding fathers and of the American people should be guiding the Obama Administration. Those principles do not encompass secret prisons, extra-judicial prisons, torture, killing innocent civilians who happen to live near suspected terrorists, or supporting brutal dictators merely because they profess friendship to the United States. Adherence to these principals does not guaranty success overseas, but if the United States should lose while following them, at least it would be with honor.
Note: The top photo depicts Secretary of State Clinton in one of her meetings with Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov. She was last in Uzbekistan in December, 2011. Just as the Arab Spring was beginning in the Middle East, an Uzbek Spring was quietly being suppressed with Obama Administration support. The photo below shows Secretary Clinton greeting brutal Libyan secret police chief Mutassim Qaddafi at the State Department on April 21, 2009.