A person who thinks and observes seriously can usually tell the difference between a red line, a red herring and a red alert.
But President Barack Obama’s speech last month on terrorism and his policies over the last four years, make it clear that he is color blind about red lines and red alerts, though he is well-practiced in producing red herrings.
“Today, Osama bin Laden is dead, and so are most of his top lieutenants. There have been no large-scale attacks on the United States, and our homeland is more secure,” the President declared May 23 at the National Defense University. He said he wanted the U.S. to return to a pre-9-11 posture because al-Qaeda was on the run.
It was a classic example of “Dr. Obama” offering an overly optimistic diagnosis of the world situation on his watch, because Obama has himself for a patient, and he cannot look at his own symptoms or surroundings with an objective eye. Ruptured veins and busted red lines are mere “bumps in the road” in Obama’s view.
Terror attacks or plots from Benghazi to Boston, Bulgaria to London, Detroit to Fort Hood, and Little Rock to Times Square are signs that terrorists are still alive and kicking. Obama wants to ignore or belittle these events, just as some did before 9-11.
Yes, there were no 9-11-scale attacks, but there was a new 9-11 assault in Benghazi by Al-Qaeda. There were also more anti-US attacks and attempted attacks in the last four years than the previous seven. So why were there no huge attacks? Answer: luck and intelligence.
We were lucky in Detroit and Times Square. In some places, local police—like NYPD—have made their own good luck by developing their own intelligence. We were not lucky in Boston.
On a national level, we are like a fuel-empty plane flying on vapors, coasting on intelligence from earlier years. Our luck may run out just as our intelligence runs out.
We need human intelligence—the kind one gets from enhanced interrogation and surveillance. Both are running low, crossing a red line on the fuel tank, thanks to the restrictions imposed by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.
Yes, Osama Bin-Laden is dead. His terror is not. Ayatollah Khomeini is also dead, but his regime and ideology still stir Shiite terror worldwide. And Obama’s top aide, Valerie Jarrett, still hosts Iranian groups at the White House—including the day after Iranian-backed terrorists killed Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. This, too, is crossing a red line.
Obama said an Iranian nuclear bomb, or Syria using chemical weapons, were both unacceptable, “crossing a red line,” or “a game changer,” many times in the last year.
“I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching,” Obama said at the National War College on Dec. 2, 2012. “And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons,” Obama warned, “there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable.”
Syria and Iran were not visibly impressed by Obama’s rhetoric. Syria has used chemical weapons, and Iran is closer than ever to its bomb. There are other places where the U.S. has ignored its own red lines and red alerts.
The Obama team said the U.S. would “lead from behind” in Libya, and this led to disaster: the murder of four Americans, among them the U.S. ambassador, in Libya, Chris Stevens, who had himself sent a red-alert warning of the danger to his staff.
Obama, Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta responded by not responding. They then concocted red herrings for public consumption, including the yarn that the attack was really the result of a Western video that offended Libyan “demonstrators.”
Leading from behind also led to the proliferation of U.S.-made weapons—including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles—among terror groups and smugglers who passed them from Libya, into Egypt, and into the Sinai Peninsula, threatening Israel.
Meanwhile, 80,000 people were killed in the Syrian fighting over a year while Obama dithered. True, there were no perfect or risk-free policy choices. There rarely are. Still, quick action by the U.S., Israel and other allies would have reduced risks that Syria’s chemical weapons would be used in the fighting or end up in terrorists’ hands.
Perhaps one reason President Obama did not want to act forcefully against Syria is that he had just sent an ambassador to the Assad regime—AGAINST THE WISHES OF CONGRESS.
As Obama debated his own red lines, Syria grew more desperate and more bold. Syria now actually brags about attacking Israeli targets in the Golan Heights, as Iranian forces and Hizballah are now fighting full-out for the Assad regime.
What is the lesson? When the U.S. ignores its own red lines, the anti-democratic forces see a green light.