Foreign policy — almost ignored in political campaigns until now — will now factor into selecting our next president.
On the 11th anniversary of 9/11, U.S. personnel and properties in Libya and Egypt were attacked.
At the U.S. consulate in Libya, the ambassador and three other Americans were killed.
In Egypt, radical Islamist demonstrators scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy, pulling down the American flag, supposedly protesting an obscure YouTube video. They carried a black al-Qaida-like flag proclaiming, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger," and chanted, "We are all Osama."
The initial U.S. State Department response was an apology for an amateur Internet piece never shown in any theater in the world.
Meanwhile, an Israeli official announced that President Barack Obama has again snubbed Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, rejecting a meeting in the U.S. later this month. The growing U.S.-Israeli rift has escalated with Netanyahu's latest demands that America set "red lines" for Iran, adding that we cannot stop Israel from using force there.
Bloodshed continues in Syria, where 18 months of fighting has claimed over 20,000 lives. More than 2.5 million displaced Syrians today need assistance inside their homeland, while 250,000 refugees have already fled to camps in neighboring countries.
Iran continues shipping military equipment to President Bashar Assad's Syrian government, flying over Iraqi airspace, presumably with permission, while boldly proceeding with nuclear development and proclaiming they can now attack American citizens and interests — anywhere.
Within days of Tuesday's attacks, anti-U.S. protests erupted in Tunisia, Yemen and the Palestinian territory, and Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai condemned the obscure American video claimed to launch the turmoil.
Is the region better off than it was four years ago?
No! The region is close to being lost — for decades.
These current events are not disconnected coincidences! We've seen again that insurrection anywhere in the region can spread with lightning speed throughout.
Al-Qaida's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, called for the violence in Libya. His younger brother was among the Egyptian protesters. A clear and present danger throughout the region threatens both peace and the flow of much the world's major oil supplies.
The Arab Spring is rapidly devolving into an irreversible winter of Islamism.
Egypt 2012 has become a repeat of Iran 1979.
This begs immediate and disturbing questions.
Will Islamists, emboldened by America's failure to respond beyond apologies and political correctness, continue to attack American personnel, properties and interests with impunity?
Is Libya likely to follow Egypt's course?
Will yet another Islamist regime replace the secular Assad government in Syria?
Will a nuclear Islamist Iran become the lead puppeteer in the game?
Will Israel be forced to take action against Iran without U.S. support?
Will America continue to lead from behind?
Will unrest in North Africa, the Middle East and the Near East deflect focus on our nation's economic and unemployment woes for the remainder of the 2012 political campaign?
Are we headed to an October surprise that will alter the nature and results of our political contests?
Think back to 2008 when the financial-sector implosion and imminent collapse of America's economy drove foreign policy to a back seat. The result? We elected a president with zero military, foreign policy or executive leadership experience, because the other candidate was so inept about the economy.
Today it's possible another reversal of issues will take place.
This time that same president will claim to be the only one with foreign-policy experience, ignoring the fact that he had zero such experience in 2008. And the media will ignore the reality that his naïveté and June 2009 speech from Cairo calling for a "new beginning" throughout the Muslim world did much to incite protest and launch the so-called Arab Spring, hurling the entire region into today's turmoil.
Unless the U.S. exerts bold leadership now, the entire Middle East will be lost, with dire and very long-term consequences!
We must end mixed messages, appeasement, apologies and leading from behind!
We must not kick the Middle East can down the road, as we do elsewhere.
We need to acknowledge the reality and severity of the global threat of Islamic extremism. Then we need a long-term plan — with clarity about the challenges and objectives, and clarity in communicating the goal worldwide.
As Condoleezza Rice proclaims, if we fail to lead the leadership void will be filled with others who hold far different values.Any alternative to U.S. leadership is unacceptable and doomed to disaster.