During the first year or two of Jesus, the Revolution & You, my newly developed interests in the founding and governing of America eventually led me into investigations of & research into terrorism. Once began, those ventures took on a sickening life of their own. I wanted to, but could not, stop. I failed to grasp how the American citizenry could not understand the enduring demand of vigilant counter-terrorism efforts, to be maintained at all times. It seemed a basic, grade school level premise that should be obvious but apparently wasn’t – if terrorism is not monitored and resisted, it will re-surface and spread. It doesn’t just go away nicely. And if one dares to learn some of its specifics…believe me, one does not easily forget them and one does understand the imperative of continued defense against such a force.
As time went by, and Americans increasingly wanted out of the Middle East, steps were taken in that direction; our national attention turned more & more to our disastrous economy.
Well, our economy has to be rescued. No doubt about that. Our debt situation is beyond horrendous – from what we are told – and desperately needs our attention. Probably no doubt about that, either. But I often had the quiet, niggling little thought that it was a mistake to allow such silence on matters of homeland security. What once occupied first place seemed to have completely disappeared from national awareness. That concerned me. A few times, it occurred to me to write a piece or two expressing this viewpoint…but perhaps I, too, needed a break from focusing on terror, on radical Islamist activity. So I let it slide. However, I have always believed that reducing our troops as much as we have, or intend to, is a mistake.
Suddenly, the spotlight has swung back onto this ’empty stage’. Some of the previous players are being pulled back onto it. I, for one, am grateful for this renewed focus.
Very recently, a guest on one of the political roundtables expressed the above sentiment concerning troop withdrawals in the Middle East. His words resounded. It was the first time in a while that I’d heard anyone say this. Since then, his opinions, or variations of them, are showing up every time I turn around, and coming from the likes of such heavy hitters as Hillary Clinton and veteran news anchor Ted Koppel. The tragedy of Benghazi, followed by the Algerian hostage crisis, has been a wake-up call.
.Bill Kristol, of The Weekly Standard, calls the President’s intention of getting out of Afghanistan “deeply irresponsible,and adds that we cannot “support counter-terrorism operations, you can’t even support Special Forces or drones with two or three or four thousand troops. They’ll be defending themselves.” He considers such a US military draw down “a very dangerous policy.” (link)
Additionally, Kristol points out that American retreat from war zones sends a possible message “around the world…that we are not interested…” A disturbing result of such a perception was seen in the Algerian hostage crisis, in which the Algerian government launched its own rescue mission – involving the rescue of American citizens – without even contacting our government, without asking for help. This has not been the norm, up until now. It says something. I don’t like the vibe.
Hillary Clinton warns resoundingly of the consequences of American retreat from the Middle Eastern conflict, as well as others, specifying the dangers of extremism taking root and threatening our security. (link) Senator Kelly Ayotte, a member of the Armed Services Committee, is concerned about this policy resulting in “a situation where the Taliban come back in power, where al Qaeda is again given a launching pad to commit attacks against our country.” It is hard to believe that any thinking individual has not been concerned about that.
The impression has previously been given that al Qaeda has been seriously weakened, almost vanquished. During his re-election campaign, President Obama used the word ‘decimated’ in referring to its leadership. I was a bit wary of his declaration. Was this so-called decimation really all that complete? To me, it felt like the President’s statement was missing something. Chris Wallace, host of FOX News Sunday, questioned Obama’s assertion by pointing out that more recently, as Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta stated “Al Qaeda is still there. They are still a threat.” Wallace continued his challenge: “Does the president now recognize that Al Qaeda is not decimated, but is, in fact, resurging in the countries that Leon Panetta talked about? And what is he prepared to do to take them out in Algeria and Libya and across the region?”
Ted Koppel labels President Obama’s rhetoric in this area as being one of the biggest mistakes he has made. Koppel considers the image of al Qaeda as having been ‘dealt with’ a false one, and that we still have some very real problems here. I have not been up on Capitol Hill. I do not walk the halls of Congress, sit in Senate sessions, nor meet with the President or his staff. I certainly do not know what is really going on in the corridors and chambers of government. But though perhaps not at the forefront, counter-terrorism offensives could not have been at a standstill. Nonetheless, it seems to be time to give them more of a center stage position. Ted Koppel believes America is entering “one of the most dangerous periods this country has ever known.” (link) The option of focusing our country’s attention & resources primarily on domestic issues – our economy, job growth, immigration, etc. – should not even exist.