As Islamist jihadis like Boko Haram murder and kidnap their way across Nigeria and Mali in pursuit of what they somehow convince themselves is a noble purpose, as Iraq and Syria writhe in the flames of an insurgency gone into hyperdrive, as the Taliban licks its chops over the future of Afghanistan, and as the smoke rises over Karachi’s airport, Washington is still trying to pretend that the global war on terror is a thing of the past.
But the jihadis apparently aren’t getting the memos and the position papers. The Guardian:
Senior militants from al-Qaida‘s central command have released a video calling on Muslims in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir to follow the example of “brothers” in Syria and Iraq and wage a violent jihad against Indian authorities.The video, which cites the “new Afghanistan being created in Syria” as inspiration, is the first to specifically target Kashmir.Entitled “War should continue, message to the Muslims of Kashmir”, the video was uploaded in recent days to a website where statements by other leaders of al-Qaida and its affiliates have been released in the past.
We may not want to be fighting this war, but it is clearer every day that a significant and growing number of people with greater and greater access to money and weapons have launched a war against everyone who doesn’t think stoning adulteresses and hanging homosexuals is God’s will. While under both Bush and Obama the non-stoning world scored some significant victories over these misguided fanatics, both Presidents made policy missteps that contributed to a worsening problem.
We shouldn’t judge either of them too harshly; this is a hard problem and no President of the United States has ever faced anything quite like it. We still don’t know how the threat will develop and what future plot twists we’ll encounter, but the first step toward making progress is to come to terms with the reality of the danger we face. The global jihadi movement has many faces and groups, and its various elements don’t always cooperate with each other any more than communist and fascist movements did. Nevertheless, it is a real and growing threat, and the struggle to protect ourselves and our allies (whom we’ll need more than ever as the danger grows) is going to be a long and hard one.
To say this is not to say that George W. Bush got things right (in many important ways, he didn’t), but there is little doubt that the U.S. and our allies are less secure today than we were on January 20, 2009, when President Obama was sworn in. It isn’t all his fault and he has had some real successes as well as failures along the way, but one can only hope that the folks inside the White House and in the President’s inner circle have the honesty and clarity of mind to acknowledge that American foreign policy isn’t going very well right now—not in Afghanistan, not in the Middle East, not in North Africa, not in the Russian borderlands, not where China seeks to extend its reach.
The world has caught fire on President Obama’s watch, and while he wasn’t the arsonist who lit the match, he’s the man in charge of putting the conflagration out. The world, and the American voters, will be watching to see how he responds.