Bill Carmichael: Obama’s idealism is mugged by reality

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JUST six months ago, in September of last year, US President Barack Obama was heralding the Yemen as his major – and some might say only – foreign policy success.

Yemen was a model, Obama boasted, for his ‘small-footprint’ strategy of taking out the terrorists while supporting the US’s partners on the ground.

Well, as Sarah Palin would say: “How’s that hopey, changey stuff working out for ya?”

Not too good, as it happens. Obama has become the latest idealistic leftie to be mugged by reality.

For while the President was patting himself on the back for his strategic brilliance, Yemen was descending into bloody chaos.

Today, Houthi rebels – Shia Muslims backed by Iran – have driven the Sunni dominated government out of the capital Sana’a and are advancing on the regime’s last redoubt in the southern city of Aden.

Saudi Arabia, terrified of increasing Iranian influence on a strategically important country that controls access to the Red Sea, and therefore the Suez Canal, has been dragged into the conflict.

Meanwhile, Sunni terrorist groups such as “Islamic State” have run riot, blowing up a mosque in the capital and killing at least 142 worshippers (the congregation was chanting “Death to the Jews” and “Death to America” when the bombs went off).

If this is what Obama thinks success looks like, I’d hate to see one of his failures. In fact his failures are there aplenty for anyone who cares to look. For example, Obama inherited a largely stable Iraq, thanks to the much derided US troop surge initiated by his predecessor George W Bush.

Defying military advice, Obama ordered a rapid withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in 2011, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by Islamic State to catastrophic effect.

In Syria, Obama laid down firm red lines to President Bashar Assad over the use of chemical weapons – and then capitulated when Assad defied him.

In Libya, Obama decided to “lead from behind” as France and the UK backed the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi – a policy that has had disastrous consequences, and now both Libya and Syria are now locked in bloody, unresolved civil wars. Meanwhile, Obama has gone out of his way to befriend the mediaeval bigots who run Iran while alienating Israel, the only democracy and lone friend of the West in the region.

In Europe, Vladimir Putin has run rings around the jejune Obama administration with the result that Russian aggression has gone largely unchecked in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Obama’s entire period in office has seen one foreign policy disaster after another. The result is that across the entire Middle East a proxy war is raging between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, which could further spiral out of control at any moment.

One consequence of this is further terrorist attacks on the West – particularly in Europe with our entirely porous borders.

This is not just incompetence, although there is plenty of that, but Obama wanted to run down American power for purely ideological reasons.

For Obama and the Left, Western power is a bad thing. They naively believe that if the West keeps out of the Middle East, Sunni and Shia will suddenly be overcome with brotherly love and will stop slaughtering each other – as they have been doing for the last 1,400 years.

For years the Left has dreamed of the day when Western power in the world is diminished. We are about to find out what that world is like – and I suspect none of us is going to like it.

Clarkson’s crime

Farewell then to Doncaster’s finest, Jeremy Clarkson, who has been sacked by the BBC after launching a physical and verbal assault on a Top Gear producer.

Once it became clear that Clarkson had thumped a colleague in a row over hot food, I suppose it was inevitable he would have to go – although his bosses were clearly itching to get rid of him because he didn’t fit in with the Left Wing culture of the BBC. And aren’t there double standards at work here? John Prescott remained deputy prime minister after punching a protester in 2001.

Perhaps Clarkson’s real crime was that his politics were not politically correct enough?

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