U.S. must rethink its foreign policy

The Arab world is on fire, and 19 U.S. embassies have been closed all week as a result of threats from al-Qaeda.

What better time for our president, Barack Obama, to fly out to the West Coast and appear on the Jay Leno show? For the record, the president didn’t say, “What? Me worry?”

The next day, the White House announced that Obama had canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A spokesman said Obama believes “it would be more constructive to postpone the summit until we have more results from our shared agenda.”

And so it goes in Obamaland.

The Arab world is a mess, and Western nations bear some responsibility. Our foreign policies over the years have been inconsistent, unpredictable and even contradictory.

The results have been disastrous. There’s no peace, no security anywhere. Arab nations have become breeding grounds for international terrorism; Arab nations are being torn to shreds by sectarian violence. And Iran, with its nuclear weapons program, threatens to destabilize the region and set off a nuclear arms race that could end with Armageddon.

Clearly, it’s time to rethink what we’re doing in the Middle East. Old approaches and old policies have not and are not working. New ideas are needed. Desperately.

The Arab world started unraveling in the late 1800s, and the end came after the Ottoman Empire chose the wrong side in World War I. Its territory was partitioned off at war’s end, with the British and Europeans winning much of the spoils.

Turmoil reigned, with various Arab nations seeking independence and jockeying for power. Other factors: World War II, the birth of Israel, the start of the Cold War.

In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower tried to stymie the Soviets by declaring the United States a policeman of sorts in the Arab world. The doctrine bearing his name states any Arab nation can ask for U.S. economic and military assistance if it feels threatened by another state.

Turmoil continued. Yasser Arafat, “the father of modern terrorism,” emerged to bedevil Israel, and a wisp of good will – The Camp David Accords and the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty of 1979 – vanished when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.

In 1990, the United States under President George H.W. Bush stumbled badly when our ambassador to Iraq met with that country’s president, Saddam Hussein. Saddam was contemplating an invasion into neighboring Kuwait, and the ambassador purportedly left him with the impression that Washington wouldn’t oppose an invasion.

Two months later, Iraqi troops rolled into Kuwait. The United States intervened, liberated Kuwait and basically told Saddam to behave.

Iraqi militants were furious. They formed al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Sept. 11, 2001. Al-Qaeda, at the direction of Osama bin Laden, launches four coordinated attacks in the United States. Nearly 3,000 innocent people are killed. The United States responds, first in Afghanistan, then in Iraq.

The outcomes have been disappointing.

The fight in Afghanistan continues today as President Obama draws down U.S. forces. The Taliban and al-Qaeda remain a potent force. Our blood has bought us heightened hatred from our enemies.

The fight in Iraq ended quickly, but again, there is little to show for the effort. The United States set up a “democratic” Iraqi government. But if success is measured by peace and stability, we have failed.

Insurgents last month killed more than 1,000 Iraqis, and the country’s interior ministry said on Tuesday that Iraq is facing an “open war” fueled by sectarian violence.

Where do our policymakers stand? What do they think? They have been reduced to lying to us and perhaps themselves.

Al-Qaeda is “on the run,” the president says, and the civil unrest associated with the “Arab Spring” is “a historic opportunity” for the United States “to pursue the world as it should be.”

No and no. Remember Benghazi?

The lies and deceptions must end, and we need new ideas. Desperately.