Obama Is Costing the U.S. Credibility in the Middle East

Obama's bewildering foreign policy.

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We compounded the problem by our attitude to the political transformation in Egypt following Mubarak's ouster. The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, publicly called for a violent "jihad" (that means "resistance") against the United States. He was resisted only casually by the United States. As Andrew McCarthy pointed out last week in the National Review, "on Planet Obama, the [Muslim] Brothers are oxymoronic 'moderate Islamists': members of a 'largely secular' organization that seeks 'change' through 'dialogue' and the 'political process,' not violence." This is the same Muslim Brotherhood that issued fatwas supporting terrorist strikes against American troops; the same Brotherhood that incited suicide bombing in Israel; the Brotherhood whose leader, in October 2010, exhorted Muslims to "remember Allah's commandment to wage jihad for His sake…so that Allah's word will reign supreme and the infidel's word will be inferior." He exhorted his followers to jihad as "the only solution against the Zio-American arrogance and tyranny." Could there be any peaceful interpretation of these words from a deeply hostile enemy?

Naively, the administration was determined to seek a relationship with this same Brotherhood. One of Obama's officials actually put forward the notion that the administration would be "satisfied" with a Muslim Brotherhood victory if the elections were free and clear, in the face of an Islamist policy of intimidating, even brutalizing, Egypt's 8 million Coptic Christians.

[See editorial cartoons about President Obama.]

The Brotherhood leader, Khairat el-Shater, made it absolutely clear in Arabic that his organization's fundamental principles do not change, only the tactics, and that their objective is an Islamic hegemony—that is, a caliphate ruled according to Sharia. When he was forced out of the presidential election by the Egyptian military, he was succeeded by his deputy, Mohamed Morsi (now Egypt's president), who repeated the objective of a Sharia-compliant state. As he put it: "The Koran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our path, and death in the name of Allah is our goal." He also put forth his view that the Camp David accords with Israel should be subject to approval by popular vote, which is tantamount to rejection.

Their role model was Turkey, where Recep Erdogan, the Islamist prime minister, said, "Democracy is just the train we board to reach our destination." The Islamists in Egypt won their election by an overwhelming majority, which earned its description as a democratic election of a totalitarian government. Morsi quickly dropped any pretense of moderation. He took control of the "constituent assembly," the body charged with writing a new constitution, as well as the civilian government. He dismantled the power of the armed forces by purging 70 generals in the Egyptian army, neutralizing them as potential opposition to Islamist rule. Obama has stated that Egypt is neither ally nor enemy, yet we are still proposing to provide direct aid in the hundreds of millions of dollars on top of supporting billions of dollars in international loans to Egypt, all with minimum conditions.

Iraq represents another failure. Obama announced the end of America's war in Iraq in December 2011 with the words, "we're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people," and called the withdrawal of the military a "moment of success." No longer. The government does not represent the people, and it is not sovereign, stable, or self-reliant. Iraq is now working against the United States, including helping Iran evade economic sanctions and backing Syria's Bashar al-Assad. Iraq sides with Iran, not Washington, and Obama's policies have failed in our national security goals there.

[Read Daniel Gallington: What Mitt Romney Should Do on Foreign Policy]

In addition to ignoring international economic sanctions, Iraq also acts as a way station for prohibited commerce with Iran. It opposes the United States, the United Nations, and almost all of its Arab neighbors who'd like to see Assad depart and the killing stop. It allows Iran to cross its air and ground space to send military supplies, advisers, and trainers to help Assad. For good measure, Iraq's Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has also expressed support for Iranian-backed Shiite revolutionaries in Bahrain.