--Offending allies. At the conclusion of the Cartagena summit, during a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, President Barack Obama was asked by a member of the Latin American press corps about future U.S. policy toward Cuba and the Malvinas. Apparently unwitting to the fact that April marks the 30th anniversary of the bloody fight to retake the Falkland Islands from Argentine invaders, our head of state replied, "In terms of the Maldives or the Falklands -- whatever your preferred term -- our position on this is that we are going to remain neutral."
This had to disappoint our British allies. President Ronald Reagan backed them in the two-month operation -- during which they lost more than 250 soldiers, sailors and airmen. Obama's statement also had to stun any student of geography, because the Maldives are an island chain south of India. There was no follow-up question for our Nobel laureate.
--Afghanistan. The craziness in Cartagena did serve one purpose for the O-Team. It distracted attention from at least seven nearly simultaneous terror attacks April 15 in Kabul, Jalalabad, Gardez and Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province. U.S. and NATO officials praised the effectiveness of Afghan national security forces for their "effective response" and noted that there were no American or NATO casualties. But Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the attacks were proof of an "intelligence failure for us and especially NATO."
Pentagon officials deny this charge but acknowledge there was "very little 'chatter' in advance of the attack." Unfortunately, this admission confirms what nobody seems ready to admit: The fight in the shadows of the Hindu Kush is dogged by inadequate human intelligence. This crucial deficiency will exacerbate the danger to U.S. and NATO troops as they begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan this summer.
By the end of the week, even this story was eclipsed by the publication of 2-year-old photos showing U.S. troops posing with the remains of dead suicide bombers. The reaction to these images by senior government officials, from the commander in chief on down, is to express "shock," apologize and promise "to hold those responsible accountable." But events this week indicate that those "in charge" need to ask themselves, "What were we thinking?" And members of the so-called mainstream media ought to remind them all that leadership begins at the top.
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.