The full extent of the Obama administration’s foreign policy debacles is coming to light in a number of respects. Recent events also obliterate arguments from the far left and right favoring a rollback in anti-terror tactics. And current events suggest a complete lack of seriousness in recognizing and addressing the jihadist threat.


President Obama speaks about Iraq at the White House on June 19. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Only now with Iraq in shambles is the administration wising up to the problem of allowing jihadists free rein in Syria. The Wall Street Journal reports: “The Sunni militant advance in Iraq has reignited a debate in the Obama administration over its policy toward Syria, increasing pressure on the president to act more aggressively against a growing regional threat, according to current and former government officials. Some argue that any U.S. military action against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, in Iraq will fall short if it doesn’t hit the group’s major strongholds in neighboring Syria. ISIS now occupies territory on both sides of the border.” Wow. Just like conservative hawks have been arguing for years. Moreover, had the president acted promptly to force out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and back the Free Syria Army, a non-jihadi group, early in the civil war, ISIS would never have achieved a foothold in Syria.

Meanwhile, a new report also shows the complete failure during the Obama/Hillary Clinton/John F. Kerry era to address embassy security. As first reported by the conservative Free Beacon, a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report blasts the lack of oversight from the Department of State on security for its people around the world.

The report includes these broad criticisms:

Although State has established physical security standards for most types of overseas facilities, GAO identified some facility types for which standards were lacking or unclear, instances in which the standards were not updated in a timely manner, and inconsistencies within the standards. . . . Furthermore, GAO found that State lacks a process for reassessing standards against evolving threats and risks. GAO identified several posts that put security measures in place that exceed the standards because the standards did not adequately address emerging threats and risks. Without adequate and up-to-date standards, post officials rely on an ad hoc process to establish security measures rather than systematically drawing upon collective subject-matter expertise. Although State takes steps to mitigate vulnerabilities to older, acquired, and temporary work facilities, its waivers and exceptions process has weaknesses. . . .

GAO found that State has not fully developed and implemented a risk management policy for overseas facilities. Furthermore, State’s risk management activities do not operate as a continuous process or continually incorporate new information. Furthermore, State’s risk management activities do not operate as a continuous process or continually incorporate new information.

The State Department apparently accepted some 13 GAO recommendations, raising the question as to why nothing was done about these glaring weaknesses, even after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. Even high-risk facilities were not adequately protected. In short, security for State Department posts and personnel was not a problem addressed in any serious manner. In some respects, we are lucky there have been only two (Egypt and Libya) embassy assaults during Obama’s presidency.

And finally, the idea that al-Qaeda is on its heels, that we need not keep up National Security Agency surveillance to detect plots and that American jihadists who go overseas to take up arms against the United States is discredited — as its promoters are — with each new revelation about the increasing threat from ISIS. The Journal again reports: “A Sunni jihadist group that has seized vast territories in Iraq and Syria is parlaying its battlefield successes into a recruitment drive that is attracting more foreign fighters, say Western and Arab officials. The message from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS: Join us in forming a Sunni-led religious state spanning from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf. One recruitment video, released on Friday, shows gun-toting militants, speaking with British and Australian accents, extolling the virtues of jihad and inviting viewers to join their battle in Syria and Iraq.”

In light of this, it would seem incredibly reckless to suggest trying and imprisoning foreign jihadists in U.S. prisons where they have a ready crop of recruits handy. It also seems to be an exceptionally poor move to make it more difficult to detect plots and disrupt them in advance. Suggestions to revise the successful NSA program, which has been found not to be abusive, should be reconsidered. And what of the Americans recruited to join the jihad in the Middle East?  Lacking “boots on the ground,” it seems that drones are more necessary than ever when Americans can be operating in the vast ISIS territory. Otherwise, they in effect gain immunity as soon as they reach ISIS territory. If we can’t act to eliminate threats before plots are hatched, we are reduced to waiting for terror to strike.

At this point, the Obama administration and those on the left and far right who have cheered the head-in-the-sand approach to national security — or worse, portrayed the government as the real danger — now bear the burden of a huge risk. Have they set up the United States or more U.S. personnel to be hit again? That is certainly why the administration now has snapped-to, declaring a terrorist state in the region to be a real threat to the United States. Let’s pray that it’s not too late for a serious re-evaluation of how we got to where we are and a needed course correction.

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.