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.