National Security Adviser Tom Donilon published an opinion piece on the administration’s efforts toward global nuclear disarmament — a presidential priority.
OK, nuclear non-proliferation is important, and I imagine some of the Financial Times’ (mainly European) readers liked Donilon’s piece, “Iran will not hinder plans for a nuclear-free world.”
But wouldn’t the time of one of President Obama’s top aides been better spent penning something Americans are hankering for — like an explanation of the administration’s game plan for the Middle East and North Africa?
After all, the region is ablaze and US interests are increasingly at risk. Americans deserve to know what the administration is going to do about it.
It’s not like there isn’t much for the White House to tell us.
Start with Libya, where the civil war has reached a stalemate. Moammar Khadafy doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, even weeks after NATO air strikes began to hint it was time to exit stage right.
Meanwhile, there are increasing questions about the military operation’s direction, especially with the reported dispatch of British, French and Italian military advisers to help the opposition — whose make-up is still hard to define.
There’s also plenty of grousing within NATO over strategy and tactics, especially on the reduced role of the United States. With limited US offensive air power, NATO air operations suffer.
What about Egypt? The country is lurching toward the future — with Iran taking advantage of the present, repairing tattered ties with its former nemesis and gaining new influence in this key Arab state.
Tehran’s warships already transited the Suez Canal this spring for the first time since the 1979 Revolution, and the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cairo, including re-opening embassies, is reportedly in the offing.
Do we have any plan for Yemen? A lot is at stake, including counterterrorism cooperation against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — which will take advantage of an increasingly weak, distracted government.
Don’t forget AQAP is perhaps the most active and dangerous al Qaeda faction — it’s responsible for the Fort Hood massacre plus at least two recent near-misses, the Underwear Bomber and Ink Cartridge Caper.
And what of Syria? The repressive police state is crushing anti-regime protests — and President Bashar al-Assad’s promised reforms will likely turn out to be little more than a mirage.
Sure would be nice to see the anti-US Assad crowd go, considering its covert nuke ambitions, its longstanding support of Hamas and Hezbollah, its alliance with Iran and assistance to terrorists going to Iraq to fight Coalition forces over the years.
Relations with the Saudis are also severely strained. They’re still smarting from Obama throwing their pal Hosni Mubarak under the bus — and wonder if he’ll treat the Saudi monarchy similarly. US policy toward neighboring Bahrain hasn’t helped.
Result? It’ll be harder to garner Saudi support on a raft of issues important to America in the region — starting with adjusting oil output (especially with Libya on the sidelines).
Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised by the feel-good opinion piece on nuclear matters, which highlights the flawed Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty that the administration often touts as perhaps the foreign-policy “success” of the last two years.
We should welcome commentary from the president’s innermost circle on Washington’s plans and intentions — but we’d have been far better served by a piece outlining exactly that on Middle East/North Africa hotspots.
It’s certainly not too much to ask for — and we’re still waiting.
Have PoliticalMavens.com delivered to your inbox in a daily digest by clicking here