The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Paying Attention

Just when you think the the Middle Eastern foreign policy debacle that has become a hallmark of the Obama administration can't get any worse -- it does. When Obama and his team of foreign policy 2s (as in a rating of 2 out of 10) decided that a hypothetical "humanitarian crisis" was grounds for overthrowing Libya's Mohamar Kaddafi and implicitly supporting a variety of crazed Islamic thugs, they forgot the hard-learned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan. They took a reasonably stable (if vicious) dictatorship and transformed it into an unstable and dangerous Islamist state.

This week the state department issued the following warning:
The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. Crime levels remain high in many parts of the country. In addition to the threat of crime, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya. Extremist groups in Libya have made several specific threats this year against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests in Libya. Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted for kidnapping, violent attacks, or death. U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately.

Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country and attacks by armed groups can occur in many different areas; hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire. Armed clashes have occurred in the areas near Tripoli International Airport, Airport Road, and Swani Road. Checkpoints controlled by militias are common outside of Tripoli, and at times inside the capital. Closures or threats of closures of international airports occur regularly, whether for maintenance, labor, or security-related incidents. Along with airports, seaports and roads can close with little or no warning. U.S. citizens should closely monitor news and check with airlines to try to travel out of Libya as quickly and safely as possible.
That's not some right-wing pundit assessing the situation, that's our own state department indicating the depth of Obama's failure in Libya.

Walter Russell Mead comments on the irony of all this:
Luckily for America’s self-esteem, it was liberal Democrats that produced this particular shambles. If Republicans had done this, the media would be on the administration non-stop, perhaps comparing Samantha Power to Paul Wolfowitz—a well-meaning humanitarian way over her head who wrecked a country out of misguided ideology. There might also be some pointed questions for future presidential candidates who supported this fiasco. But since both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have their fingerprints all over Libya, there isn’t a lot of press hunger for a detailed, unsparing autopsy into this stinking corpse of policy flub.

If Obama were a Republican, the press and the weekly news shows would be ringing with hyperbolic, apocalyptic denunciations of the clueless incumbent who had failed to learn the most basic lessons of Iraq. Indeed, the MSM right now would be howling that Obama was stupider than Bush. Bush, our Journolist friends would now be saying ad nauseam, at least had the excuse that he didn’t know what happens when you overthrow a paranoid, genocidal, economically incompetent Arab tyrant in an artificial post-colonial state. But Obama did—or, the press would nastily say, he would have done if he’d been doing his job instead of hitting the golf course or yakking it up with his glitzy pals at late night bull sessions. The ad hominem attacks would never stop, and all the tangled threads of incompetence and failure would be endlessly and expertly picked at in long New Yorker articles, NYT thumbsuckers, and chin-strokings on all the Sabbath gasbag shows.

Why, the ever-admirable tribunes of a free and unbiased press would be asking non-stop, didn’t this poor excuse for a President learn from what happened in Iraq? When you upend an insane and murderous dictator who has crushed his people for decades under an incompetent and quirky regime, you’d better realize that there is no effective state or civil society under the hard shell of dictatorial rule. Remove the dictator and you get chaos and anarchy. Wasn’t this President paying attention during the last ten years?
Paying attention requires a clear-eyed view of the Middle East. It requires an honest assessment of the Islamic actors in the region, the degree to which they can be trusted (they can't), the degree to which they can govern in a stable manner (they won't), the degree to which corruption warps any ability to establish a viable economy (it does), and the degree to which Islamist ideology ruins any effort at modernity (it does). Obama and his team of 2s would prefer a fantasy ideology in which clear facts are ignored, past history is forgotten, hope is substituted for a viable strategy, and spin is substituted for the truth.

Paying attention is something that this administration would prefer not to do. You're watching the results unfold every day. And it doesn't look good.