In May 2011, in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, CNN's Fareed Zakaria wrote a column headlined "Al Qaeda Is Over":
The truth is this is a huge, devastating blow to al Qaeda, which had already been crippled by the Arab Spring. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the end of al Qaeda in any meaningful sense of the word.
Al Qaeda is not an organization that commands massive resources. It doesn't have a big army. It doesn't have vast reservoirs of funds that it can direct easily across the world.
Zakaria is famously a confidant of Obama's, but there are limits to the horse manure even devoted courtiers swallow. Three years on, just one malign al-Qaeda progeny, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, now commands more territory than ever - from Aleppo in western Syria to the gates of Baghdad. It has all the tanks and weaponry abandoned by the Iraqi "army" we trained. It has control of the northern oil fields, the cash reserves of the second largest city in Iraq, and is now "the world's richest terrorist group".
Meanwhile, the White House has apparently canceled its cable subscription and daily newspaper. On Tuesday, as half-a-million Iraqis were fleeing Mosul, Administration flacks were talking up Hillary's Greatest Hits:
Earnest was asked by a reporter at the daily press conference to describe Clinton's accomplishments while she was Secretary of State.
"Ending the war in Iraq and winding down in a responsible fashion the war in Afghanistan, and doing that after the success of our our efforts to dismantle and destroyed Al-Qaida core that had established a base of operations in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan," Earnest answered.
Obama and Clinton ended the war in Iraq by losing it. They "pivoted" from Iraq to Afghanistan, and wound up losing both. Hillary crowed over Gaddafi's corpse - "We came, we saw, he died" - and then sat by as her ambassador and best friend "Chris" was devoured by the mob: He died, she sat by, we're gone. The Arab Spring that Zakaria claims "crippled" al-Qaeda delivered Egypt to the Muslim Brotherhood and a military coup, Tunisia to soft Islamists, Libya to ever harder Islamists, and much of Syria and Iraq to jihadists too hardcore for "mainstream" al-Qaeda.
Events are moving fast on the ground. As I said on Fox News on Tuesday night:
In Iraq, the al Qaeda flag flies in Fallujah on buildings American troops built. And as we have just heard, al Qaeda has taken hold of Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, earlier today.
On Wednesday, they took Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, where in the spring of 2003 I strolled with gay abandon. Where next?
Iraq Militants, Pushing South, Aim at Capital
And so the US Embassy in Baghdad readies for its Saigon moment - for the helicopters on the roof, and the executions of the "friends" they left behind.
The Obama dominoes tumble: Benghazi, Mosul, and soon Kabul. But it doesn't matter because, as the Administration has assured us and as far too many Americans seem willing to believe, wars end when the ADHD superpower decides to take its ball and go home. As I wrote on Wednesday:
Only a fundamentally unserious people would think the answer to the Obama Presidency is to follow it with the Rodham Presidency.
And yet 67 per cent of Americans regard Hillary as "a strong leader" - presumably for her success in "ending the war in Iraq" and "destroying al-Qaeda". Who needs Pravda when a free people are happy to live at this level of delusion?
Out there in the rest of the planet, the soundbites - "bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive" - are a tougher sell. Here's what I wrote over seven years ago:
If you happen to live in Ramadi or Basra, Iraq is about Iraq; if you live in Tehran, or Cairo, or Beijing, Moscow, Pyongyang or Brussels, Iraq is about America. American will. American purpose. American credibility.
To the people who cheered when those towers tumbled 13 years ago, there is no Bush, no Obama, no Clinton. There is only America. And when the black flag of al Qaeda is raised in Baghdad it will be seen, correctly, as an American defeat. We have told the world something about ourselves, and the world will conduct its affairs accordingly.
As to the suggestion that it doesn't matter because we should "come home" to a domestic Green Zone, ask those seven-year-old moppets pouring across the southern border how impressed they are by "Fortress America".
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