Photo: White House via Flickr
Either Barack Obama is living in a fantasy world, or he really does believe that the decade-long war against Islamist terror is drawing to a close, as he claimed in his inaugural address yesterday. Either way his statement will only lend encouragement to al-Qaeda and other Islamist terror cells that America is running up the white flag.At a time when the Algerians are still clearing up the wreckage of the In Amenas gas plant attack, French troops are fighting al-Qaeda in Mali and thousands of American troops are fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, it seems almost perverse for the American president to claim the campaign is winding down.I can understand why the American people – rightly – are fatigued by the long campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, but I detect an element of wishful thinking entering the Obama administration’s approach to counter-terrorism.
Just before Christmas a senior Obama official claimed the America could wind up its campaign against al-Qaeda because it no longer posed a threat. That remarkable claim was made by US defence department general counsel, Jeh Johnson. At about the same time another Obama adviser told me that Washington didn’t really mind if the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan once Nato troops had withdrawn in 2014, as the Taliban was no longer interested in working with al-Qaeda. Unbelievable!
And now we have Saint Obama himself proclaiming that America was no longer at war, and could concentrate on rebuilding the economy and the country’s social fabric.
Apart from being incredibly naive,this assertion is also highly dangerous both for the security of the U.S. and its allies. Mr Obama seems to have forgotten that he has already had several lucky escapes – the Detroit underpants bomber, the Times Square bomb plot etc – but he seems to believe that, just because Osama bin Laden has been consigned to his watery grave, that the troops can pack up and come home.
But as the recent events in North Africa have demonstrated, the decade-long war is far from over: it has simply moved to a different location, one where the American president refuses to become involved. Not even the brutal killing of American ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi last September can persuade Mr Obama that, as America’s commander-in-chief, he has a duty to defend American citizens against those who wish to do them harm.
If this really is the policy he intends to pursue during his second term, then he is leaving America and its allies wide open to attack from al-Qaeda and its allies.
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