Oliver North

WASHINGTON -- According to Hillary Clinton, "the safety and well-being of Americans has to be our highest priority." Oh, really? That comment, proffered by our secretary of state Tuesday, is overshadowed by the serious jeopardy U.S. citizens now encounter thanks to the ideological blindness and national security incompetence of the Obama administration.

Since 2011 began, more than 20 Americans have been injured, killed or gone missing in the midst of violence in Lebanon, Tunisia, Iran, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Mexico and the Indian Ocean. American citizens are being held by government authorities in Iran, Yemen and Pakistan -- and by pirates in Somalia. Our State Department says it is "concerned."

Last week, two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were ambushed in Mexico. Special Agent Jaime Zapata was killed, and his partner was grievously wounded. Mexican authorities now claim they have apprehended some of the perpetrators with "connections" to one or more drug cartels. The Obama administration, with its history of "slow rolling" counter-narcotics assistance to Mexico and doing next to nothing to protect our borders, is confronted now by news that a Saudi national has been apprehended in Texas with plans to attack sensitive U.S. infrastructure.

Last week, four Americans aboard the sailing vessel Quest were seized by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. A U.S. warship was ordered to the scene as the seaborne terrorists headed for safe haven in Somalia. If past is prologue, it should have ended like previous armed rescue operations conducted by U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Marines, South Korean navy commandos and even Russian and French special operations units -- with the safe recovery of nearly all hostages.

But in this case, our ships were inexplicably ordered to simply tail the captured yacht while an FBI hostage negotiator conducted a parley with the pirates. During the negotiations, all four hostages were killed. The Obama administration now says it's bringing the 15 captured pirates to the U.S. to "face justice" in a U.S. courtroom. Count on a "circus maximus" resulting in more of the "catch-and-release" program for terrorists.

In Pakistan, Raymond Allen Davis, an officially credentialed American with diplomatic immunity, is being held on murder charges at a notorious and often deadly detention facility in Lahore. Unnamed "U.S. officials" are widely quoted in international media claiming Davis is variously a "CIA officer," a "CIA employee" or a "CIA contractor." Any of these sobriquets are a virtual extrajudicial death sentence for an American held by anybody in Pakistan.

According to news reports, Pakistani authorities have moved Davis to a "separate area of the prison" and disarmed his jailers to prevent them from killing him. The State Department has filed a "protest note" complaining that the government in Islamabad is not abiding by its international obligations and held a surreal media conference call with an unnamed government official to explain diplomatic immunity.

Meanwhile, U.S. Army Spc. Bowe Bergdahl, initially declared MIA in June 2009 and now in the hands of the Taliban, isn't even mentioned by the administration.

On Wednesday afternoon, after more than a week of violent protests and brutal suppression by Libyan despot Moammar Gadhafi, Obama finally broke his silence on the bloodshed and declared it to be "outrageous" and "unacceptable" -- without ever mentioning Gadhafi by name. He also said his crack national security team is exploring "the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis."

Unfortunately, his options in Libya are, perforce of other inept decisions, very limited. For the first time in more than three decades, Iranian warships are steaming to Syria, and we have no U.S. carrier battle group in the Mediterranean Sea.

Instead of sending a U.S. aircraft carrier to the coast of Libya to prevent members of the Libyan air force from bombing their countrymen, our commander in chief has dispatched Secretary of State Clinton to Geneva to confer with the absurdly impotent, anti-American United Nations Human Rights Council. Perhaps he has been too busy sending activists to protest in Wisconsin and ordering his Justice Department to "cease defending" the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act to have noticed that Gadhafi's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is a member of the UNHRC.

The Obama administration's flaccid and inept responses to the crises in Mexico, North Africa and the broader Middle East are putting American citizens and U.S. interests in grave jeopardy. The O-Team could have staked out the moral high ground in January, when Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, subverted the fragile democratically elected government in Lebanon -- and protests began in Tunisia. The administration had a second chance to take a principled stand for human rights and freedom of assembly when popular unrest erupted in Iran and Egypt.

Instead, Obama dithered. He eventually chose to ignore the Iranian students being bludgeoned in Tehran and ultimately supported a military coup to oust Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak.

Now -- with rebellion sweeping Libya, Yemen and Bahrain, which is the home of our 5th Fleet, and U.S. oil spiking at more than $100 per barrel, the highest it has been since 2008 -- his commitment to the "safety and well-being of Americans" rings more hollow by the minute. His weakness, incoherence and passivity have bred chaos that places us all at risk.


Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.