By John Bolton
The US and Western response to date has been disjointed and with decidedly mixed results. If President Obama doesn’t soon jettison his ideological blinders about the threat of international terrorism, we could see a series of further attacks — not unlike the 1990s series that culminated in the 9/11 strikes.
Obama has attempted verbally and politically to narrowly define the terrorist threat in order to declare victory. In his acceptance speech, for example, he said: “I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. We have.” By continually restricting and narrowing “terrorism” to al Qaeda in Waziristan (thereby excluding the Taliban, al Qaeda components elsewhere and in fact nearly everyone except bin Laden’s own cadre), the administration hoped to reach the point where it could proclaim the war on terror finished.
Yet events in Libya, Mali and now Algeria have shredded that budding myth, at a tragic cost in human life.
By demanding the release of terrorists imprisoned in America in exchange for their hostages, the Algerian marauders in particular demonstrated that we are still top of mind in the terrorist world.
In Libya, Obama walked away after Moammar Khadafy’s overthrow. Terrorists took root, leading to the Benghazi tragedy. Meanwhile, Khadafy’s mercenaries fled, carving out a sanctuary in Mali that radicals from around the world could use as a safe haven. And in Algeria, where the military fought a bloody civil war 20 years ago against Islamicists, the embers flared again.
One terrorist attack didn’t cause another, but the correlation of forces underlying these mortal threats now stands unambiguously exposed. Khadafy’s overthrow, touted by Obama’s White House as vindication of its Middle East policies, has simply exposed the reality that the terrorist threat had metastasized well beyond bin Laden. Killing him and al Qaeda leaders in Waziristan hasn’t reduced threats that now grow daily: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb; Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al Qaeda in Iraq — the list of thriving franchises continues to grow.
And when the Taliban recapture power in Afghanistan, as Obama’s policies are almost surely guaranteeing, we can count on al Qaeda re-emerging there as well.
Read more at The New York Post
John R. Bolton is a former US ambassador to the United Nations.