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More Bad Than Good By: Dr. Walid Phares
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I  was recently asked to rank President Obama's tenure in office so far. I limited myself to my areas of expertise and scholarship. A murky picture developed, with a few gratifying developments being outnumbered by twice as many mistakes and reversals.

Homeland Security

If you don’t define the enemy, you lose half of the battle.  The Secretary of Homeland Security has failed to identify the threat ideologically and strategically.  While the jihadists of al-Qaeda, and other Salafists, as well as Hezbollah are penetrating the country and have been engaged in preparation for urban Jihad, as documents captured on cells dismantled by U.S. law enforcement teams since 2001 and statements made by captured terrorists, shows, the Secretary for Homeland Security didn’t identity the threat as it is for the American public.  Instead of educating 300 million Americans as to the nature of the forces infiltrating the country, the ongoing terror threat was redefined simplistically as “man-made disaster!”  This definition is a disaster itself, from a strategic perspective.  This is a step backwards, for now.

Foreign/Military Affairs

The Obama administration made several strategic mistakes so far:
  1. Stating that a so-called engagement with the so-called “moderate Taliban” is considered: There are no moderate Taliban.  The US must engage with the anti-Taliban forces instead.
  2. Stating that the administration will engage with the Iranian regime while ignoring its oppression of the Iranian people.  The US must engage the democracy movement of Iran instead.
  3. Backing the AKP government of Ankara in holding Turkish-Syrian joint military exercise.  Does the Obama administration endorse a NATO joint exercise with Syrian armed forces which are allied with Hezbollah?
  4. Visiting Turkey on the one hand and refusing to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide in Washington on the other hand.
In short, yes the U.S. global direction in the confrontation against terror forces is changing, but not in the needed direction.  However, note three satisfying developments:
  1. The Obama administration and General David Petraeus are mobilizing to escalate against the Taliban in Afghanistan.  As long as this escalation is not accompanied with a counter productive deal with the Taliban, it will be headed in the right direction.
  2. The administration withdrew from the Durban II Conference, which has been anti-Semitic and anti-democracy.  That is a good point for the president.
  3. Note strong statements made by Secretary Hilary Clinton regarding:
a.       Pakistan:  The government must stop the Taliban
b.      Lebanon:  The Lebanese people must not be abandoned to  Hezbollah

Law and Justice

There have been declarations by detainees, convictions and trials in terror cases in the US over the past months, including Al Qaeda cadres and the Fort Dix Six Jihadists.  The Obama administration must inform the American public of the nature of these declarations, especially with regards to the ideology behind these acts.  The evidence identifying the mounting threat is crystal clear and the administration has the duty to announce it to the American people.  For justice to be served, citizens have to be informed.

Dr Walid Phares is the author of the newly released book Future Jihad. He is also a senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington DC.

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