It turns out Team Obama suddenly wants the 2012 presidential campaign to be about foreign policy rather than the economy. Such a pivot might not be surprising given that by President Obama’s own test, he has not cut unemployment to the point where he deserves to be re-elected.
The Democrats have - if anything - a weaker case for re-electing this president on national security grounds. The campaign ad they unveiled on Friday, timed to take credit for the liquidation of Osama bin Laden on the first anniversary of that achievement, is a case in point.
It is an act of desperation and contempt for the American people that, of all people, Mr. Clinton would be used in such a role. Let’s recall that during his presidency, he repeatedly declined to take out bin Laden. The former president is so sensitive about this sorry record that his operatives insisted in 2006 that ABC excise from “Path to 9/11” - an outstanding made-for-TV film by Cyrus Nowrasteh - a dramatized version of one such episode.
More telling still is an issue inadvertently showcased by this controversy. While the Clinton-Obama-Biden spot tries to make Mr. Romney sound as though he wouldn’t have had the courage, or at least the vision, the president exhibited in a risky bid to take out bin Laden, what the presumptive Republican nominee actually said in 2007 in context illustrates a far better grasp than Mr. Obama has of the enemy we confront:
“I wouldn’t want to overconcentrate on bin Laden. He’s one of many, many people who are involved in this global jihadist effort. He’s by no means the only leader. It’s a very diverse group - Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and, of course, different names throughout the world. It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person. It is worth fashioning and executing an effective strategy to defeat global, violent jihad, and I have a plan for doing that.”
Mr. Obama, by contrast, would have us believe that the problem is al Qaeda and that threat is pretty much a thing of the past, thanks to bin Laden’s elimination and the decimation, primarily by drone strikes, of others among its leadership and rank and file. An unnamed senior State Department official told the National Journal last week, “The war on terror is over” as Muslims embrace “legitimate Islamism.”
Unfortunately, as Seth Jones observed in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, “Al Qaeda is far from dead. Acting as if it were will not make it so.”
Even if al Qaeda actually had been defeated, however, we are - as Mitt Romney said five years ago - confronting a host of other jihadist enemies who seek the same goals as bin Laden’s al Qaeda and its franchises: the triumph of the totalitarian, supremacist Islamic doctrine of Shariah and a global government, known as a caliphate, to govern accordingly.
Unfortunately, as demonstrated conclusively in a free, Web-based video course titled “Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within,” released last week by the Center for Security Policy (MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com), far from understanding the danger posed by the rest of the jihadist enterprise, the Obama administration is actually making it stronger.
The evidence presented in this course suggests that that could be, at least in part, because of the six Muslim Brotherhood-associated individuals the center has identified who are either on the government’s payroll, advising it or being used for outreach to the American Muslim community. (See Part 8 of the video course for details on the Obama Six.)
Whatever the motivation, consider how Team Obama has managed the three other groups Mr. Romney mentioned. The administration made no effort to impede the takeover of Lebanon by the Iranian foreign legion, the designated terrorist organization known as Hezbollah. It has actively helped bring to power, recognized and effectively turned over $1.5 billion to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Worse yet, it has, as noted above, embraced its operatives and front groups here. President Obama personally directed last week that $170 million in U.S. foreign aid be given to a Palestinian Authority “unity government,” which includes another designated terrorist organization, Hamas - incredibly - on the grounds that “U.S. national security interests” required it.
Unfortunately for the Obama administration, fundamentally misconstruing the nature of the enemy is just part of this president’s ominous legacy with respect to his commander-in-chief portfolio. The wrecking operation he is engaged in concerning our military’s capability to project power, its unilateral cuts to the U.S. nuclear deterrent and weakening our missile defenses may not be fully evident between now and the election. But the impact will be felt for generations to come. That will be true in spades of the war on the culture of the armed forces being waged in pursuit of the radical left’s efforts to make over American social norms and mores, starting with its most esteemed institution: the United States military.
Getting bin Laden isn’t the issue. The issue is whether Mr. Obama is getting right the rest of his job as commander in chief. Regrettably, he is not.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for The Washington Times and host of Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9 p.m. on 1260 AM.