Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Tadae Takubo

【#266】Can President Obama Fight against Terrorists?

Tadae Takubo / 2014.10.02 (Thu)

September 29, 2014

     The view that former U.S. President George W. Bush made a clear mistake by expanding his war against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq in response to terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001 had seemed deep rooted in the United States and Japan. But the recent Middle Eastern situation has led me to feel that the view might have been reversed, with the Bush administration now viewed as having done right things.
     Undoubtedly, the Bush administration spent much on the war against terrorism and cost massive troops and private citizens their lives, leading U.S. people to dislike overseas wars. In the final days of the Bush administration, however, international terrorists in Iraq might have had no room to act, with a democratic political system at least established to reflect public opinions in Iraq.

U.S. pullout invited radicals to rise
     President Barack Obama completed the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 and vowed to pull out U.S. forces from Afghanistan in 2016. Had he known what message the withdrawal decisions would send to terrorists?
     As power relationships between terrorist groups have changed over the 13 years since the terrorist attacks on the United States, the "Islamic State" terrorist organization has taken control of a vast region covering Syria and Iraq. While the Islamic State is seen as a threat in the Middle East for the immediate future, U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper has said that "in terms of threat to the (U.S.) homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State." The Islamic State has severed relations with al-Qaeda now led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, while the Khorasan group still maintains ties with al-Qaeda. But a leading view now is that al-Qaeda has declined to a minor terrorist network.
     President Obama has failed to take any action in response to the Arab Spring democratic movement that has taken place in the Middle East and North Africa since late 2010. He lost an opportunity for intervention in Syria, allowing Russia to take diplomatic initiative. In the meantime, the Islamic State militant group increased its influence in a manner to join Syrian rebels, expanding into Iraq. The militant group has forced citizens to convert their religions or be killed brutally. It has made women sex slaves. The group has also executed two American journalists and a British citizen and dispersed video footage of the execution throughout the world. In response, President Obama called for forming allied forces against the Islamic State and cooperated with Saudi Arabia and four other Middle Eastern countries to expand bombings from Iraq to Syria.

U.S. falling into Islamic State trap through bombings?
     The bombings indicate that the United States is falling into an Islamic State trap, say Wall Street Journal columnist Gerald F. Seib and American leading conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer.
     As bombings are intensified, terrorists may grow more heroic. President Obama may succeed militarily for the immediate future, but if the bombings are prolonged, American people may grow weary of war, leading the U.S. government to withdraw from the bombings. The two columnists indicate the Islamic State has written such scenario. No European country has joined U.S. bombings on Syria. President Obama's military success is not necessarily guaranteed.

Tadae Takubo is Vice President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.