Accepting his party’s renomination for president on Sept. 6, Barack Obama boasted, “Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.” The crowd roared its approval.
It’s now painfully clear that someone wasn’t listening. Five days later, terrorists attacked in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Other terrorists in northern Mali, affiliated with Al Qaeda, were in the process of seizing territory the size of Texas, and still others just carried out a daring raid in Algeria resulting in 38 or more hostages killed.
The U.S. and Western response to date has been disjointed and with decidedly mixed results. If President Obama doesn’t soon jettison his ideological blinders about the threat of international terrorism, we could see a series of further attacks — not unlike the 1990's series that culminated in the 9/11 strikes.
Obama has attempted verbally and politically to narrowly define the terrorist threat in order to declare victory. In his acceptance speech, for example, he said: “I promised to refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11. We have.” By continually restricting and narrowing “terrorism” to Al Qaeda in Waziristan (thereby excluding the Taliban, Al Qaeda components elsewhere and in fact nearly everyone except Bin Laden’s own cadre), the administration hoped to reach the point where it could proclaim the war on terror finished.
Yet events in Libya, Mali and now Algeria have shredded that budding myth, at a tragic cost in human life.
By demanding the release of terrorists imprisoned in America in exchange for their hostages, the Algerian marauders in particular demonstrated that we are still top of mind in the terrorist world.
John Bolton was U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 2005 through 2006. He is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a Fox News contributor