NEWS ALERT: 'Islamist Terrorists Nuke U.S. Urban Center'
Boots On, Off and On the Ground Again
“Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however moderate or unambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to extinguish the ambition of others.” —Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 34 (1787)
If Barack Obama’s failed foreign policies are extended four more years, the headline above will be closer to reality. But before we contemplate the prospect of Islamists detonating a nuclear weapon in a major U.S. city, let’s start with a little background.
Islamists have been harassing the United States for a very long time, starting with Thomas Jefferson’s Barbary pirate problem in 1801. The Barbary States — Algiers, Morocco, Tripoli and Tunis — were seizing U.S. merchant vessels and taking hostages for ransom. When Jefferson refused to pay, the Barbary States declared war. Jefferson requested that Congress declare war in return, and while it never officially did so, Congress did authorize the use of force to end the attacks on U.S. merchant ships and American citizens.
In fact, I write this column on the anniversary of the battle that turned the tide in the Barbary War. On April 27, 1805, a small contingent of U.S. Marines directing a large contingent of mercenaries overtook a much larger force of Islamic adversaries in Derna, Libya. Victory in Derna was the first time U.S. forces raised a flag after combat on foreign soil, and the success there is memorialized in the second line of the Marine Hymn — “To the shores of Tripoli.”
Two months after the battle at Derna, the Tripolitan Islamic leader, Yusuf Karamanli, signed a treaty ending hostilities. Notably, Jefferson’s successor, James Madison, would have to send forces back in 1815 to prosecute the second Barbary War. So it began, and so it continues.
This week, in yet another failed policy reversal to contain the current Middle East Meltdown, Obama announced that he’s sending additional U.S. troops to Syria. He’s doing so after determining conclusively that power doesn’t tolerate a vacuum — in this case, the one he created when ordering a retreat from Iraq to fulfill his ill-advised 2012 re-election promise.
Recall that in 2011 there were about 150 U.S. military personnel remaining in Iraq, but more than 5,000 have now returned in an effort to contain the aforementioned Islamic State, the most dangerous terrorist group in history, an organization now posing a formidable threat to Western civilization.
What gave rise to the Islamic State? Let’s review.
As I outlined in “Obama’s Iraqi Makeover”:
In 2008, Obama campaigned on “ending the war in Iraq.”
In 2009, he upended our long-term military objectives to establish a forward military operating capability in Iraq in order to maintain stability in a region where we have very critical national interests, and he set a new course for retreat and withdrawal from the region.
In 2011, having rejected the Bush strategy of establishing a status of forces agreement (SOFA) to secure our hard-won gains in Iraq and the region, Obama declared, “Everything Americans have done in Iraq, all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding, the building and the training and the partnering, all of it has led to this moment of success. … We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.”
In 2012, amid the cascading failure of his domestic economic and social policies, Obama centered his re-election campaign on his faux foreign policy successes crafted around the mantras, “Four years ago, I promised to end the war in Iraq. I did,” and, “al-Qa'ida is on the run.”
How did that chapter of “hope and change” work out? Not so good for all the families who lost loved ones in that theater, or those who came back severely wounded. Their priceless sacrifice was squandered for a Democrat campaign bumper sticker.
And of course, just weeks before his re-election, Obama dodged the Benghazi bullet with a well-organized cover-up crafted by his wannabe successor, Hillary Clinton. Blaming that deadly fiasco on a “protest over an Internet video” protected the centerpiece of Obama’s campaign.
Predictably, Obama’s retreat left fertile ground for the resurgence of a far more dangerous incarnation of Islamic terrorism in Syria under the name ISIL. ISIL has displaced al-Qa'ida as the dominant asymmetric threat to our national security.
Since his re-election, Obama has attempted to unhitch his colossal and unprecedented foreign policy malfeasance in the Middle East from his 2012 election propaganda. He has insisted that ISIL was a “JV Team” and that “we’ve contained them” — but apparently not.
At the same time the Islamic State was rising, Obama and John Kerry were cutting a catastrophic “nuke deal” with Iran, releasing $150 billion in frozen assets and paving the way for development of its nuclear weapons capacity and terrorism sponsorship. The combination of these events virtually assures that the future consequences of Obama’s Middle East legacy will be even more disastrous than the humanitarian refugee crisis he created.
While the Islamist attacks against the U.S. have grown much more deadly in recent decades, culminating with the slaughter of 2,922 civilians and 55 military personnel on 9/11, the nuclear threat is far more grim. (Recall that, according to the 9/11Commission, the hijackers initially considered targeting nuclear power plants.)
For decades before 9/11, U.S. national security planners were focused on non-proliferation strategies to keep states that support asymmetric terrorist organizations — most notably Iran — from achieving the capability to develop nuclear weapons. I know this because I had a role in attack simulations and preparations through four presidential administrations — Reagan, Bush (41), Clinton and Bush (43). Preventing the detonation of a fissile weapon in one or more U.S. urban centers was and remains the most ominous challenge — now more than ever.
The September 11 attack was low-tech, having been executed by a small cell of 19 hijackers with box cutters. But the loss of life, the economic consequences, and the cost in additional blood and treasure prosecuting those terrorists in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, pales in comparison to the cost of a nuclear attack in Manhattan — or Boston or Charleston or Los Angeles or Seattle.
OEF and OIF successfully diminished the threat of Osama bin Laden’s “American Hiroshima” objective — until Obama took office in 2009. Today, although the greatest probability of domestic Islamist attack remains low-tech conventional, the potential of an Islamic terrorist group gaining access to a nuclear weapon and detonating it in the U.S. is increasing.
That notwithstanding, most Americans remain blissfully unaware of this threat, primarily because the 24-hour news cycle and its dutiful talkingheads rarely distinguish between what is critical news and what is not. In order to keep their audiences mesmerized, Fox, CNN and other new recyclers continuously slap “ALERT” shock banners on a lot of “news” that simply isn’t. They do so to ensure their market share and their ad revenue, and the net effect is that important events are lost deep in the weeds.
And so it goes with Obama’s announcement about additional boots on the ground in Syria.
In a fitting example of this administration’s feckless and aimless ineptitude, there was a surreal “boots on the ground” reality check for Obama’s reality-challenged State Department spokesman John Kirby — a political hack whose last disinformation gig was in his admiral’s uniform at DoD. When asked by Associated Press reporter Matt Lee about Obama’s repeated assertion that he would not put more boots on the ground in Syria, Kirby categorically denied that Obama ever took that position.
Lee asked, “For months and months and months, the mantra from the president and everyone else in the administration has been ‘no boots on the ground,’ and now—” Before he could finish, Kirby cut him off, insisting, “No, that is not true. … It’s just not true, Matt. … That’s just not true. … I just flatly, absolutely, disagree with you.” Kirby then claimed Obama was not “saying one thing and then doing the other completely.” The complete exchange is painful to watch.
However, while the “boots on the ground” debate is spun and re-spun until the next news “ALERT” emerges, the most significant terrorist threat — nuclear attack — the real strategic justification for the OEF and OIF military operations, goes unnoticed.
Too many Americans are unable to see the proverbial forest for the trees, what is important versus all the mindless media claptrap. However, the prospect of a Clinton presidency, and the extension of Obama’s deadly foreign policy malfeasance, looms large — and the consequences will be catastrophic.
Recall for a moment your reaction to breaking news the morning of September 11, 2001. Now, try this out for a shock news alert banner: “Islamists Nuke U.S. Urban Centers.” This one is in our future.
Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis