Watching the members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) question John Brennan — President Obama’s nominee for CIA director — drove home the utter unwillingness of so many elected and appointed senior federal officials to defend the United States. For the most part, each senator used his/her allotted time to pose irrelevant questions to man whose answers in many cases were deceptive and evasive, when they were not outright lies. One senator hit a bull’s eye when he called Brennan to task for publicly divulging a human operation that had penetrated Al-Qaeda-on-the-Arabian Peninsula but then did not follow up when Brennan took offense at the question. Had any intelligence officer except a senior one like Brennan exposed and thereby destroyed a sensitive ongoing operation — as Brennan clearly did — he would be joining the former CIA officer who recently went to prison for disclosing the name of a colleague.
France’s recent interventions in Mali and Somalia underscore the accelerating ability of Al-Qaeda-in-the-Islamic-Mahgreb (AQIM) and its Africa-based allies to threaten the continent’s nation-states, as well as access to natural resources — oil, strategic minerals, and uranium — that are essential to the French, U.S., and other Western economies. The growing power and geographical reach of AQIM mirrors the growth of all components of Al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups, save possibly the central component in Afghanistan-Pakistan. The bottom line here is that sixteen years after Al-Qaeda and its allies began their religious war, the United States and the West confront an Islamist enemy that is larger, better armed, smarter, and far more geographically dispersed than ever before.
Last Friday’s Wall Street Journal brought the inevitable. In an opinion piece, Shiraz Maher, a professor at King’s College, London — wrote that “the story of what is going on in Mali”actually begins in Libya, where the unintended consequences of the Arab spring are now roiling North Africa and West Africa. When NATO forces decided to support the Libyan rebellion against Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, they could scarcely have predicted the impact of their intervention on the region’s labyrinth of competing economic and confessional interests.
Sixteen years after the late-Osama bin Laden declared war on the United States, we are being treated in Mali to a rare and explicit glimpse of how deep the arrogance and incompetence of Western leaders are when it comes to the religious war al-Qaeda and its allies are waging on the West.
Josef Stalin is reputed to have said something akin to “one death is a tragedy, 25,000 deaths are a statistic.” Surely, President Obama has proven that Uncle Joe was right almost every day since the shootings in Connecticut.