“A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead.” –Barack Obama, Sept. 12th, 2012, 24 hours after the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Time and time again, President Obama has touted the supposed demise of Al Qaeda since his election to our highest office. The Commander-in-Chief has announced repeatedly that Al Qaeda has been all but eliminated, but in reality, Al Qaeda and other associated terrorist groups grow stronger as Obama’s “tread lightly” foreign policy allows a void in the Middle East and North Africa which terrorist groups are eager to fill.
After the U.S. helped secure Fallujah, Iraq, with some of the fiercest fighting in the Iraq War, Fallujah has been reclaimed by Al Qaeda forces and the deaths, injuries and sacrifices sustained by brave men and women have been rendered meaningless.
Despite a multitude of warnings from military experts, President Obama has worked diligently to pull troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, leaving a region vulnerable to terrorist factions. The president has hailed the destruction of Al Qaeda repeatedly, but has refused to admit what remains obvious to intelligence experts- that Al Qaeda is waiting to fill voids left by American withdrawals.
Last weekend, Al Qaeda forces retook Fallujah, taking control of the city and raising the Al Qaeda flag above government buildings. Moderate Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham were critical of this administration’s foreign policy that allowed the city to fall into the hands of Al Qaeda forces.
“While many Iraqis are responsible for this strategic disaster, the administration cannot escape its share of the blame,” the senators said in a joint statement. “When President Obama withdrew all U.S. forces … over the objections of our military leaders and commanders on the ground, many of us predicted that the vacuum would be filled by America’s enemies and would emerge as a threat to U.S. national security interests. Sadly, that reality is now clearer than ever.”
Fallujah was home to some of the fiercest fighting in the Iraq War with nearly 100 Americans killed and hundreds more wounded. The battle also became famous for its gruesomeness after four American security contractors were killed and their burned bodies were hung from a bridge for the world to see.
The president has touted his ending of the Iraq War as a significant accomplishment; however, his accomplishment may be remembered as a blunder if everything Americans fought for is undone due to a passive exit strategy from the region.
Last month, after National Security Adviser Susan Rice hailed Obama’s foreign policy, The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes noted that the president’s foreign policy is virtually non-existent, saying,
“The problem with the president’s foreign policy, true of this past year and certainly true of this past year, is that there is no foreign policy. It’s ad hoc, it’s moment by moment. It’s totally situational. Our allies don’t know when the United States can be counted on, they don’t know what our policy is day-to-day, week to week, month to month and certainly our enemies don’t know what the president is thinking or doing at any time. He draws red lines that he’s willing to erase, he makes threats that he’s not willing to carry out, he offers promise and hope that never actually follows through. I think [Rice] is wrong; it’s an unmitigated disaster and I think we’re in trouble the next three years.”
Whether one is a hawk or dove on American foreign policy issues, the fact remains that America committed to stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan. If our work is so easily undone by Al Qaeda, the sacrifices, deaths and injuries are rendered nearly meaningless.
Withdrawing from Middle Eastern conflicts may be a worthwhile goal, but the Obama Administration must be committed to finishing what was started. With Fallujah in Al Qaeda’s hands, the president can no longer pretend that his flailing foreign policy is working.