by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
We’ve all run across the pill bug in our gardens. At the first sign of danger, the tiny paranoid crustacean suddenly turns into a ball — in hopes the danger will have passed when he unrolls.
That roly-poly bug can serve as a fair symbol of present-day U.S. foreign policy, especially in our understandable weariness over Iraq, Afghanistan, and the scandals that are overwhelming the Obama administration.
On August 4, U.S. embassies across the Middle East simply closed on the basis of intelligence reports of planned al-Qaeda violence. The shutdown of 21 diplomatic facilities was the most extensive in recent American history.
Yet we still have over a month to go before the twelfth anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001, an iconic date for radical Islamists.
Such preemptive measures are no doubt sober and judicious. Yet if we shut down our entire public profile in the Middle East on the threat of terrorism, what will we do when more anti-American violence arises? Should we close more embassies for more days, or return home altogether?
Apparently al-Qaeda did not get the message that the administration’s euphemisms of “workplace violence,” “overseas contingency operations,” “man-caused disasters,” and jihad as “a holy struggle” were intended as outreach to the global Muslim community.
Instead, the terrorists are getting their second wind, as they interpret our loud magnanimity as weakness — or, more likely, simple confusion. They increasingly do not seem to fear U.S. retaliation for any planned assaults. Instead, al-Qaeda franchises expect Americans to adopt their new pill-bug mode of curling up until danger passes.