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The Big Bang in Benghazi

Unlike Mitt Romney, Al Qaeda isn't going to be thrown off track when the Washington Post fact checkers start accusing it of gaffes or trot out fake polls to demonstrate its unpopularity.
US consulate in Benghazi on fire.

US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on fire, Sept. 11, 2011.
Photo Credit: EPA / Mustafa El-Shridi

The most important thing that any leader needs to know about war is that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. That includes a plan of fighting bloodless wars using drones and droning speeches.

The brilliant plan that Barack Hussein Obama and some of his more useless advisers cooked up for defeating Islamic terrorism was to isolate the “extreme” violent Islamists who want to kill people from the “moderate” political Islamists who are willing to take over entire countries in elections.

The Islamist terrorists would be deprived of a meaningful reason to kill people in the name of implementing Islamic law if their political brethren got to take over entire countries and implement Islamic law. Once the Muslim Brotherhood took over a few countries, then Al Qaeda would be marginalized and irrelevant. Its operatives would soon have to drop the terrorism and get jobs teaching about LGBT rights or building solar panels.

Whoever came up with this plan probably had a grandfather in the State Department who said in 1919 that the Communists would become less dangerous to Western Europe now that they had all of Russia to use for their economic experiments because stupidity doesn’t go away. The same old ideas that cost millions of lives a few generations ago are repackaged with some artful worldplay and are parroted by the smart set as the sort of thing that should be obvious to anyone.

Islamism, now joins Communism and Nazis on the shelf of things that we don’t really have to worry about once we’ve appeased them enough, at least until they stop taking off fingers and start biting off hands and then suddenly we have to start worrying all over again.

The problem with Obama’s split Islamists maneuver is that Al Qaeda had spent more time attacking Saudi Arabia, the most Islamist Sunni country on earth, than any other Muslim country. Turning Egypt and Syria Islamist was not going to dissuade or isolate Al Qaeda. For Islamists, there is an endless well of “extremes” so that the rise of one Islamist government is just an excuse for more Islamists to arrive and denounce them as fakes and puppets of America and Israel.

Islamist governments have a traditional way of occupying the attention of their angrier Islamist brethren. They buy them flight lessons and maps of American landmarks. That’s how the House of Saud largely solved its Islamist terror problem and that is how our “moderate” friends in Egypt are hard at work solving their Islamist terrorist problem by pointing them at Israel and using their attacks as an excuse to militarize the Sinai.

In Libya, the Benghazi consulate was being guarded from other Islamist militias by the Muslim Brotherhood militia. The ways in which plan failed are a microcosm of the larger failure of the entire plan to buy peace by selling out our allies to the Muslim Brotherhood and hoping that the Islamists we backed will be more moderate than the ones bombing us.

Much as the Saudis had been doing for years, the Muslim Brotherhood just sold out the consulate to Al Qaeda and then sent out a condolence message while warning that unless we accept the Islamic definition of un-free speech, attacks like this will keep on happening. And they will regardless of how many Mohammed movies get made or don’t get made.

The only way that anyone in the region knows how to stop terrorism is either by massacres or by handing the terrorists a giant bag of money and pointing them at a new target. The Brotherhood is not about to start fighting other Salafists over American foreign aid and they couldn’t even if they wanted to, without empowering the army, which in their part of the world quickly becomes a government. Instead they will do what the Saudis have been doing, talk out of both sides of their mouths, telling the terrorists to hit America and telling America that if we don’t support them, the terrorists will win.

This is an old game and it works really well. We send a Muslim country money and weapons. It hands 10 percent of them to the terrorists in exchange for attacking us some more. Then it asks us for more money and weapons to stop the terrorists. Unlike most investments, this one is stable and pays out really well as long as Washington DC is full of so many chumps that it ought to have more card sharps and pool sharks than any other place in the country.

All this is bad news for Obama who was trying to run on the one accomplishment that took place during his administration– the death of the superannuated leader of what used to be Al Qaeda, before Al Qaeda developed more franchise opportunities than Pizza Hut. But Obama was not the only one worried about his image. Al Qaeda does not like looking weak and incompetence any more than the Son of Hussein does. While Al Qaeda does not have elections, it does have donors, and the sheiks and princes are not sending it checks so its members can hang around strip clubs and do coke while fantasizing about the return of the Caliphate.

The more Obama bragged about killing Bin Laden and defeating Al Qaeda, the more Al Qaeda decided to make a point of showing that it had not been defeated just because its Sheik-Emeritus had taken a few bullets to the beard. A terrorist attack against America would take too much time and was a high risk job that could easily fall apart, but local attacks were easy and could be done on short notice– especially with all the extra weapons lying around Libya from Obama’s last war.

Obama had bragged about defeating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, a place that it had mostly gotten out of while O was still a State Senator trying to figure out how to fall asleep with his eyes open. All the while he kept ignoring the places where Al Qaeda actually was, like Libya. That was a situation ripe for a 3 AM wake up call that Obama slept through.

All the clever soft-power games, the notion that your enemies could be split into cooperative and uncooperative segments had completely left everyone in the White House unprepared for the reality of what happens when you humiliate people that you don’t have the guts to fight.

Obama fights and wins image wars through media propaganda. Al Qaeda does it by killing people. And unlike Mitt Romney, Al Qaeda isn’t going to be thrown off track when the Washington Post fact checkers start accusing it of gaffes or trot out fake polls to demonstrate its unpopularity. Al Qaeda becomes popular the old-fashioned way. Its image comes from its body count and in a region where life is cheap, it can throw a few hundred grand to recruit any number of the fighters-for-pay it needs to score some bloody footage.

The worst possible way to go into a fight is to have no fallback plan and Obama, like most ideologues, never has fallback plans. He throws everything into Green Energy and Stimulus Plans and never expects failure and has no plan to cope with failure. He commits to a Surge in Afghanistan and then has no fallback plan for failure except to fire some generals.

Obama picks the option with the smoothest patter, the one that seems it can’t fail because it’s just so brilliant and perfect. And then when it fails, he ignores it because he has no other response to failure. Having a man like this in charge of strategy is a recipe for disaster, which is exactly what we have. Wars require men who go in knowing that setbacks are a risk and that the enemy gets a vote. Instead we have a technocrat who believes that that a plan that seems well reasoned will work because life follows ideology.

The State Senator from Illinois by way of Indonesia with his Muslim father and stepfather has made a bigger mess than the Peanut President and the mess if mostly unacknowledged because while the media often knows better than him, it knows of no substitute for him. So it will go on pretending that we didn’t lose Afghanistanand that the Benghaziattack was about a video, no matter what common sense or a minor figure like the President of Libya says about it.

Al Qaeda has not been defeated because you can’t defeat random militias with guns who can draw recruits from every third son of a Muslim theocrat from here to Pakistan, not without either doing severe damage to their host societies or completely discrediting their political aspirations, instead of encouraging them by empowering Islamists.

Instead Obama’s end zone dance in Abbottabad ended with a black eye from Al Qaeda and a reminder that if you are going to claim victory over an enemy, then you had better have a bigger kill count than can be gotten from a few drone strikes.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/ These opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

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