Up until the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, the upcoming presidential election seemed to focus solely upon the economy. Whoever presented the most coherent message to the populace on this subject would most likely win the election this fall. And then, the Middle East exploded with our embassies in the region being sacked; and our ambassador to Libya (along with three other Americans) being slain. Like a shot across the bow, foreign policy now matters in this election.
In this realm, President Obama has long touted his singular success in getting Osama bin Laden, the titular head of al-Qaida. The assumption is that by dispatching Americas public enemy No. 1, the president is unassailable on issues of national security. Well, is this so or can Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney make headway by stressing foreign policy in the last couple of months of the campaign?
To answer this question, we must first analyze and understand what made al-Qaida so dangerous in the first place. As we know, al-Qaida is a far-flung organization dedicated to imposing its version of Islam upon all; and those who resist this effort will be put under the sword. In order to carry this out, al-Qaida needed a safe refuge in order to plan and gather resources. It found such a home in Afghanistan and was able to merge itself with the local government, the Taliban. Al-Qaida was able to move out from the shadows and grow in strength, eventually striking the American homeland.
Of course after Sept. 11, this arrangement was smashed by the U.S. military.
However, we are seeing a re-union of sorts in the Middle East. In this region, the Muslim Brotherhood is ascending to power. This group shares many of the same goals and aspirations of al-Qaida, most (if not all) of which are inimical to our own interests. The Muslim Brotherhood used the cover of the Arab Spring to assert itself into national governments. Libya and Egypt, which were the epicenters of the murder and mayhem directed at the United States, have governments in power that are essentially an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood. This is dangerous ground, as we are again seeing the joining of a terrorist organization with the power of a nation state. However, this time the nation-states have wealth and assets in essence, the Afghanistan-al-Qaida arrangement on steroids.
How such groups so diametrically opposed to our interests were able to rise to power without so much as a whimper from the U.S. is not really a mystery. They were able to take advantage of our presidents philosophy of leading from behind. If you do not attempt to control events, they will control you, an unfortunate lesson we are now learning all too late.
Yes, President Obama got Osama bin Laden. This is a good thing. Yet, it must be judged in the wider context of what is occurring in the Middle East now. His policies may very well have lost the region to an intolerant philosophy and this should negatively affect Obamas reelection hopes. It is an issue that Mitt Romney must address so we as a nation understand the dangers this portends for us.
Regardless of who is elected this fall, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood does not bode well for America. Our next president must lead from the front in dealing with this menace.
Louis Lombardi is a community columnist for the Centre Daily Times. He is an attorney and former New York City police captain who lives in Patton Township. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on his blog at www.obpopulus.wordpress.com.