This columnist was among the billions worldwide who exulted when Barack Obama beat overwhelming odds to become the US President. From a dysfunctional family background to living in a distant corner of the US to lacking the financial depth needed to succeed in a political career, it would have been a rare punter who betted on his holding the position that he has occupied for the past six years. And yet, it is this quality of looking ahead and discovering trends that are as concealed as they are concentrated which distinguish a statesperson from the overwhelming majority of political leaders. Unfortunately, for his place in history except as a curiosity, once in office, President Obama jettisoned most of his core team as well as the principles he claimed to champion. His Cabinet was stuffed with holdovers from the Bill Clinton era, as was the rest of the administration. In domestic policy, the opportunity to clean up the financial system was lost, while in foreign policy, Clintonite blindness to ground reality and obeisance to the theories spun out by think tanks resulted in the US (and its allies) being a major reason for the ongoing chaos and bloodshed in the Arab world. Together with those in charge of policy in France and the UK and Israel, Obama oversaw the disastrous arming of extremists in Libya and Syria that morphed into ISIS.
Unfortunately for his people, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is proving to be as destructive of the longer-term security of Israel as Ariel Sharon was. The latter engineered the 1980s involvement in the Lebanese civil conflict that made his country the only one in the western world which is the target of Shia (as separate from Wahhabi) terror. Netanyahu’s following the likes of the GCC sheikhs, Nicolas Sarkozy, David Cameron, Francois Hollande and Hillary Clinton has been directly responsible for the arming, training and funding extremists who now threaten global stability on a scale several orders of magnitude higher than Osama bin Laden ever did. Certainly the Obama administration will be aware of the ways in which the fighters now in ISIS got the weapons and cash they are using to deadly effect, although embedded news channels carry the fiction that the weapons are from “captured Iraqi army stores” rather than direct transfers from France and other key NATO states, funnelled through GCC sheikhs who ought to have known better. The milquetoast measures against ISIS just announced by Obama are not going to be able to roll back a tide that in months will seep deep into populations, thereby creating cesspools which will take decades to flush out. Interestingly, even John McCain — who in his earlier avatar as a jihadi “freedom fighter” was calling for massive assistance to the very fighters now coalescing around ISIS — is asking for much greater US involvement in the battle against ISIS and affiliates such as Al Nusra.
Much more than Barack Obama, who seems to have embraced the hyper-risky policy of seeking to avoid all risk, or even John McCain, the voice within the US establishment who is talking the most sense is Tulsi Gabbard, a Representative from Hawaii, the home of the US President’s grandparents. She has called for a massive US operation to destroy ISIS and its affiliates, the same way as the Taliban was finished off in Afghanistan with the help of the Northern Alliance in 2001, before the ISI rescued that organisation by persuading a gullible Dick Cheney to hold fire and later to fund warlords who were closet Taliban, thereby ensuring a revival of that scourge.
What is needed is a military operation on a scale sufficient to ensure the destruction of ISIS and its affiliates, a course of action that Obama is hesitating to carry out. Indeed, if Obama continues to prevaricate, what is needed is for Baghdad to ask for help from Moscow, Beijing and Delhi, so that these three countries can snuff out the virus unleashed on the region by the NATO-GCC partnership.
Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt assisted Joseph Stalin to defeat Adolf Hitler. Had it been Cameron and Obama, they would have demanded that Stalin be replaced by a politician of their choice as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union before sending any help.
It is good luck for the Taliban, ISIS and others steeped in ultra-Wahhabi ideology that there is no longer a Roosevelt or a Churchill in the western world, nor even a Tulsi Gabbard in the Pentagon, only the Cheneys, the Obamas, the Camerons and the Hollandes.