Obama’s Greatest Challenge

In the first and second waves of attacks against the Islamic State fighters in the Syria-Iraq border region, it was mainly American fighter planes, drones and bombers doing the work. The third wave brought Arab forces into the military-diplomatic game. A Saudi prince was even seen in the cockpit.

Barack Obama’s order to attack resulted more out of helplessness and desperation rather than from an overall strategic plan for the pacification of the Middle East. His speech to the United Nations was unable to conceal this.

America has waited too long, and Europe is waiting even longer. The Old Continent is nearer to the theater of war and its murderous emissions, along with the millions of refugees. The worst thing would be if the assassins were able to continue to kill unhindered.

The Dynamics of the Events Were Underestimated

Barack Obama is a reluctant commander-in-chief. Didn’t he promise America retreats, peace and reconciliation? Domestically, he has met with little success. Now Washington is sparing nothing or nobody the realization that America truly is, whether Americans like it or not, the “indispensable nation,” the ultimate world power, which, unlike the Europeans, cannot always grant a dispensation in terms of world order.

The ambiguity of the situation, the underestimation of the infernal dynamics of events, the contagion of fanaticism—all of these things have caused a fatal hesitation. Obama can no longer accept that nothing will happen.

At the same time he must, in dealing with the diplomacy of the war—and it is a war with a view to more—follow the model of the older Bush in the first Gulf War in 1990-1991, and do everything to ensure that the action does not look like a war of the West against the Arabs or a war to protect the beleaguered state of Israel. Obama’s U.N. speech underlines this will.

The Old Middle East Disappears

What appears to be a limited military action for the stabilization of what we once called the Fertile Crescent is in truth world politics. However, it is also an opportunity to persuade the Russian leadership to at least remain still. One must, when it comes to the unrest in the Arab world and the power ambitions of Iran, think of the North Caucasus and the riots that lie in wait.

Can the U.S. Air Force bomb Iraqi or Syrian territory uninvited? This must be decided in the U.N. One thing is for sure: The old names are merely marking lines in the shifting sands that will be gone tomorrow. The Middle East, whose imaginative minds have only just celebrated their spring awakening, no longer exists.

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