By Sal Bommarito
President Obama inherited a tenuous state of affairs in the Middle East from his predecessor. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were muddling along creating too many casualties and depleting precious financial resources. And most importantly, Americans were war-weary and anxious to end the nation-building, democracy-building and endless disputes with corrupt and incompetent leaders.
Obama decided to disengage from both war-torn countries. Unfortunately, his schedule, which was revealed early on to our enemies, was too impetuous and without regard to the future security needs of the countries involved. The result was a remarkable resurgence of insurgents. Al Qaeda, contrary to Mr. Obama’s comments, was not dead, and the Taliban stepped into the power vacuum created by the U.S. pullout.
The decisions by the Obama administration set the stage for current events that are more dangerous than ever before in this part of the world. The good news is that our soldiers are much safer because they are not directly involved in any ground wars, at least for the time being.
What will be Obama’s Middle East legacies? Here are my predictions:
Existential threats to Israel were increased by actions of the U.S. The U.S.’s relationship with Israel has deteriorated markedly. The importance of this cannot be overstated because America is Israel’s only ally. Additionally, the U.S./Iran negotiations relating to Iran’s nuclear program could create a serious problem for Israel and possibly a military response at some time in the near future.
The U.S. is no longer leading in the Middle East. Its tepid response to ISIS and decision to not employ ground forces has disappointed all of its allies in the region. It is no longer a dependable ally in their eyes.
The aforementioned response enabled ISIS to become a phenomenon that will plague the Arab states for many years to come. Additionally, 6 million plus people were made refugees or were displaced from their homes by ISIS. This will give rise to serious social, financial and political problems in several countries, not to mention deaths that may result from famine, disease and genocide.
The U.S. has established new standards for collateral damage. Correctly, it is no longer willing to attack another nation without first considering the impact on innocent bystanders. Morally, this is noble and noteworthy. But, it may put America at a dangerous disadvantage if its standards are far greater than the enemy’s.
The U.S. is no longer able to assemble a serious coalition of nations to repel military and humanitarian challenges. Other nations know that America is always ready to pay and sacrifice the most.
It is clear that neither the U.S. nor any other free nation can foist democracy on Arab countries. The religious orientation of the Arab world coupled with its tribal perspectives make democracy more of a dream than a possibility.
Islam has radical elements that have not yet been recognized by name by the president. Additionally, our leader has decided to make too many excuses for the actions of radical Islamists. These perspectives are eschewed by most Americans and resulted in a debate that has diverted the country from the real issue- to kill ISIS.
History will not look kindly on President Obama. He has repeatedly ignored his military advisers and Congress on issues of grave importance to our national security. This behavior has made the Middle East more dangerous. And, also important are Obama actions that have created constitutional issues regarding the power of the presidency that will addle our leaders and lawmakers in Washington for a long time, and diminish the response time of America to impending danger.
One final point, no one should be shocked if a time comes when the U.S. decides to provide ground forces to fight ISIS. The policy of avoiding ground wars established by President Obama may not survive very long.