As Obama left office in January 2017, he left in his wake a dysfunctional Middle East even more dysfunctional than anyone thought possible. Under his administration and what passed as foreign policy under two Secretary’s of State- Hillary Clinton and John Kerry- the damage this policy wreaked has created not only a humanitarian refugee crisis, but the decimation of religious minority and Christian communities in the region. To see where he failed and why he has blood on his hands, the problem started very early in his administration, indeed during the 2008 Presidential campaign.
Obama ran as an anti-war candidate with respect to the war in Iraq. He had adopted the mantra and platform of his party that started almost three months after the Democrats had voted for the use of force in Iraq. This sudden reversal had nothing to do with the original reasoning for the war or its execution. Instead, an anti-war candidate- John Dean- was the front runner. That was in 2004 and it is why John Kerry- the eventual nominee- suddenly forgot the true reason for military action: Iraq’s defiance against 17 UN Security Council resolutions and their refusal to allow nuclear inspectors to do their job.
Thus, the “Bush lied, people died” meme was born. Perhaps the evidence was misinterpreted, but it was the same evidence shown to Democrats and Republicans alike who voted overwhelmingly to approve the use of force. In fact, that authorization specifically noted a desired outcome: regime change in Iraq. Winning the war was relatively easy; winning the peace not so easy.
The Democratic Party had become the anti-war party culminating in the election of Obama in 2008 with his pledge to end the war and return the troops. Although military and intelligence advisers told Obama that troops would have to remain in Iraq to secure the peace and counter an insurgency, he used the failure to reach a status of forces agreement with Iraq to seriously reduce US forces in Iraq. This mishandling of the peace by Bush and Obama’s withdrawal of forces are responsible for the rise of ISIS.
It is difficult to determine if things would have worked out differently had McCain won in 2008. But we do know one thing: the power vacuum Obama created in keeping his campaign promises made a bad problem worse. Obama had surrendered a tenuous peace achieved by Bush’s troop surge.
Not soon after his Inauguration, he went on what some have described as his “apology tour” culminating in a speech at the University of Cairo. In June, 2009, the Green Revolution occurred in Iran in response to election results there. There are documented reports that Obama ordered the CIA to sever their ties with the protester’s leaders. In fact, Obama refused to offer even moral support as he did to uprisings in Egypt and the Ukraine. The result was a brutal repression and the reason was Obama’s backdoor attempts to open a dialogue with the Iranian government.
In 2010, the so-called Arab Spring protests started in Tunisia and spread, with varying success, throughout the Arab world. When the spring reached Syria, things went terribly awry which precipitated their current civil war as Assad had no desire to relinquish power. This is the same Assad who both Kerry and Clinton characterized as a democratic reformer. Clinton made that assertion in March 2011. A couple of months later, “the reformer” was massacring his own people. Of course, there is the infamous red line that was never enforced. This was preceded by Kerry crowing about how diplomacy had led to Syria disposing of its chemical weapon stockpiles. As the Sarin gas use showed, Kerry and Obama’s diplomacy was duped.
Then there is the case of Egypt where Obama turned his back on a reliable Arab ally- Mubarek- a country that negotiated peace with Israel. Obama’s open support for his successor, Mohammed Morsi, led to the systematic oppression of Coptic Christians in Egypt. This is the same Morsi of Muslim Brotherhood fame- the same group that spawned the likes of al-Queda and Hamas. To make matters worse, after uprisings against Morsi, Obama refused to endorse the leadership of Fattah al-Sisi.
One would be remiss if we left out of the discussion the absolute disaster that was Libya. While Qaddafi may have been a strongman ruler, they did voluntarily give up their WMD program, were assisting the United States in the war on terror, and he was actively at war with al-Queda. Today, Libya is a basket case as refugees flee for the shores of Italy.
His policy of “strategic patience” can be condensed into one word: cowardice. It allowed ISIS, which he could not even come to call Islamic, to become the largest terrorist force ever. During their occupation of large swaths of land, their reign of terror decimated Christian communities and destroyed priceless antiquities.
Perhaps his biggest blunder and one with the longest term harm is his outreach to the terrorist regime in Tehran. Beginning with the Marine bombing in 1983 and continuing with every IED laid in Iraq, Iran is responsible for the deaths of countless Americans. His entire Middle East policy was built around the nuclear deal with Iran which simply delays the inevitable as Iran continues to develop, test and flaunt ballistic missiles, support terrorists in the region, and wage proxy wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The deal brought Iran out of international isolation as planes loaded with cash were delivered to Tehran. One can rest assured that some of that $200 million went to Hamas, Hizbollah, and Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Obama can perhaps be excused for his foreign policy naivete based upon hope and change. What he cannot be excused for is this “foreign policy” being responsible for the unnecessary deaths and executions of religious minorities, Christians, homosexuals and apostates at the hands of ISIS and other terrorist groups. The war on terror was suspended under Obama and the result is countless deaths and a humanitarian refugee crisis that threatens not only the Middle East, but also Europe.
While Obama can apologize to Japan for an event that happened in 1945, he should be apologizing for enabling the most depraved and barbaric forces in the Middle East. He not only alienated a reliable ally in Israel, he attempted to woo a sworn enemy in Iran and was rewarded with chants of “Death to America.” He not only has blood on his hands; he is also a fool.