Tuesday, January 22, 2013
War On Terror: In the final debate, GOP candidate Mitt Romney was mocked for bringing up the spread of terrorism to Mali, which has been implicated in the weekend's Algerian terrorist massacre. So who is out of touch?
'Mitt, do you know that most of America thinks Mali is one of Obama's daughters," tweeted hipster television personality Bill Maher last October, to ridicule Romney's debate statement that global terrorism was not dead at all and in fact was spreading.
"Mali has been taken over ... the northern part of Mali, by al-Qaida-style individuals," Romney said in the first four minutes of the Oct. 23 debate.
A "mini-seminar on Mali," sniped the New Yorker. "Mali Appears On Mitt Romney's Radar" mocked France's Le Monde. "Was that in the morning briefing book?" sneered a New York Times editorial. "Molly? Oh, Mali," live-blogged The Guardian.
Romney campaign staff later scrambled to assure the press that Romney was not a hopeless wonk out of touch with the electorate by bringing up obscure countries in the middle of an election, but was in fact receiving U.S. intelligence briefings, as all presidential candidates do after their convention.
After all, a monstrous terrorist attack had happened in Libya last Sept. 11, which resulted in the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens who was apparently attempting to stop the smuggling of Libyan weapons to terrorists in the Maghreb.
Romney listened to those briefings, understood the reality and stated it: that far from being over, terrorism was spreading dangerously through Africa, which the Algerian attack now underscores.
That contrasts sharply with current U.S. foreign policy led by President Obama, who is still, even today, going out of his way to downplay any extended war on terror even as two more Americans are being pulled from the rubble of an Algerian terrorist attack over the weekend.
"A decade of war is now ending. And economic recovery has begun," President Obama grandly declared at his second inaugural Monday.
It's what he's said all along — that al-Qaida has been "decimated," terrorism "is on the run" and now is the time to forget about it as a relic of President Bush's era and turn to gay rights, gun control and global warming.
But there's reason to think he knows better.
Word is out that the attack was organized from Mali by al-Qaida-linked terrorists using weapons spirited out of the chaos of Libya, a blunder that culminated in the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attack in Benghazi which still has yet to be adequately explained by the Obama administration.
What's more, Ambassador Stevens, on the night he was murdered by Islamist terrorists, warned of the deteriorating security situation and his plea was ignored as terrorists killed him and three other Americans and burned the de facto consulate.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after three delays, is due to testify on the matter Wednesday and is unlikely to state the emerging reality that it was all a matter of preserving the politically useful fiction that the terrorists were on the run.
The Algeria attack shows a vast, well-armed, well-financed organization capable of taking over failed states and launching attacks on Western energy interests.
That signals the war on terror will be an extended slow-motion engagement, part of a long-term trend that will be about as easy to cure as cancer and can no longer be ignored.
Yet Obama has said he wants "a fuller understanding" of the terrorists, and is firmly in denial about the extent of commitment that leadership requires:
"We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war," he told his inaugural audience, to thunderous applause.
Terrorists can watch television and are undoubtedly looking over at the appeasing specter on the Potomac and adjusting their calculations.
The fact is, even if Obama has intelligence on the extent of their plots, he can be trusted to deny there's a problem to the voters as, one by one, Western interests fall under attack.