Second thoughts are much in evidence at the moment in official Washington about the Obama administration's responses to the wildfires that have been raging in recent weeks throughout North Africa and the Middle East. The original view was that these were spontaneous "awakenings" in which peoples long denied freedom were rising up, asserting their demand for democracy, inspired and fanned by Western-innovated social networking media. As such, they were widely seen to be causes that warranted strong U.S. support.
It is becoming increasingly clear that in virtually every case, these fires were set by arsonists, not democrats. The instigators were Islamists seeking to impose the supremacist, totalitarian politico-military legal program they call shariah. In those few instances where such Islamists were not actually among the catalysts, they are certainly emerging as the principal beneficiaries of the revolts thus set in train.
American policies encouraging the overthrow of regimes that were (more-or-less) aligned with the United States are having the effect of clearing the way for successors deeply hostile to us, our allies (most especially Israel) and interests. These include not just Muslim Brotherhood operatives but al Qaeda terrorists, some of whom have returned to the fight after being released from Guantanamo (another practice sorely in need of reconsideration!) The Obama administration is reportedly cutting off arms sales to Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon; it should exercise similar restraint with respect to the present impulse in some quarters to supply weapons to the so-called "rebels" of Libya. Andy McCarthy calls the latter the Libyan mujahideen, a group perfectly capable of turning their weapons on us, as their counterparts in Afghanistan did after we collaborated in defeating the USSR there in the 1980s.
Now would also be a good time, with Congress and the executive branch poised to effect deficit reduction on the backs of U.S. servicemen and women, to engage in some second-thought-style reflection - before the Pentagon budget is reduced any further. After all, we are at war in three different theaters. Our enemies are already sensing our weakness and irresolution and emboldened by it. And the past costs of reconstituting military capabilities unwisely and irresponsibly dissipated have proven - time and time again - vastly to exceed the savings. At the very least, we should resolve to apply any resources freed up by ferreting out waste, fraud and abuse in the Defense Department, to addressing yawning shortfalls in the military's modernization, research and development and operations and maintenance funding.
Monday, President Obama declared his candidacy for reelection. While his decision was no surprise, whether the American electorate will decide to give him a renewed mandate next year seems an open question. For millions across the country, the answer may rightly turn on second thoughts they have had - and will have between now and November 2012 - about him and his policies, among others the foregoing directly related to keeping us safe and secure.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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