The attacks on the Benghazi consulate raised questions about President Obama’s foreign policy that have only become more pronounced as news of rejected pleas for increased security take center stage. The angst and desperation Ambassador Christopher Stevens demonstrated on the very day the consulate was attacked had been anticipated by men like security officers Eric Nordstrom and Lt. Col. Andy Wood: both of whom spent months asking the State Dept. to step up security in Benghazi to no avail.
Yet as tragic and telling as the Benghazi attack was, there is a good chance it will be eclipsed by what Obama has done — as well as what he’s failed to do — in Syria.
In Libya, Nordstrom and Wood saw it coming, but Sept 11 took the American people by surprise. Yet in Syria, everyone who’s paying attention can see it coming. For in Syria, Obama has been so diligent in his refusal to act that the opportunity to achieve advantageous results by acting is long past.
Moreover, in the place of acting Obama has thrown money at the problem, and some of that money has found its way to the very types of groups that attacked our Benghazi consulate on September 11.
Here’s where we stand. Obama has pushed a multilateral approach to Syria that is marked by minimal U.S. involvement. This has produced a situation where Islamic jihadists in Syria are literally being armed by Obama’s partners in multilateralism: Saudi Arabia and Qatar among them.
And while this is happening, the lines dividing Islamist groups from other groups in the opposition have become increasingly blurred. This is because each passing day allows more Al-Qaeda-sponsored fighters to enter the country and blend in with the opposition.
Congressman Paul Ryan spoke to this in the VP debate when he said: “The longer this has gone on, the more people, [from] groups like Al-Qaeda, are going in.” Ryan went on to say we could have more readily identified good guys from bad guys — the Free Syrian Army from Al-Qaeda elements — “had we had a better plan in place.”
But there is appears to have been no plan. Instead, it appears that Obama’s entire response to the Syrian conflict has been reactionary in nature.
Thus Obama went from having his Sec. of State refer to Assad as “a reformer” in 2009, to finally asking Assad to “step aside” in Aug. 2011, to signing a secret order for humanitarian and “non-lethal” aid for the Syrian opposition earlier this year. But during the three years Obama has been dithering, the war has spread to Turkey and Jordan, and may involve Iraq and Lebanon before all is said and done.
Think again about the Benghazi attack. One of the criticisms leveled at the Obama administration since that attack is that the administration knew there was an armed Al-Qaeda cell there and therefore, should have done more. Weigh that evidence against this, “Al-Qaeda is far more active in Syria than it is in Libya,” and ask yourself what kind of horrors may await innocent bystanders in that conflict?
Syria may prove to be Obama’s Waterloo.