The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 8, 2014

Geoff Caldwell, columnist: ‘Fallujah falls’ a sum of all failures

The headline Saturday morning read simply: “Fallujah falls.” Those two words sum up American foreign policy these past five years.

On Feb. 27, 2009, a newly elected Barack Obama stood before thousands of Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and declared:

“Every nation and every group must know, whether you wish America good or ill, that the end of the war in Iraq will enable a new era of American leadership and engagement in the Middle East, and that era has just begun.”

A new era indeed.

Pro-Western Iranians were the first to give it a try. Rising up to protest the fraudulent re-election of tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009, they looked to the United States and its inspiring new president for support. That support never came, but the brutal crackdown did. An untold number of Iranians paid the ultimate price for believing in Obama’s new era.

In February 2011, Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak was ousted, bringing about the beginning of the end for established order in the Middle East. Muslim Brotherhood terrorists used Obama’s new era to impose their will upon the Egyptian people and almost succeeded. With the administration supporting the “democratically elected” terrorists, it was left to the Egyptian military to show the leadership that the White House would not. 

A month after Mubarak’s fall, the torture of 15 boys by the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad lit the flames of a civil war. Another chapter of Obama’s new era was written in the early stages of that conflict when America again failed to show leadership.

In October of that same year, Libyan terrorist Muammar Gaddafi was dead and the White House was giddy with vindication of Obama’s lead-from-behind strategy — a strategy that history now shows as yet another failure of the new era. On Sept. 11, 2012, four Americans paid the ultimate price for Hillary Clinton’s and Obama’s unwillingness to lead from the front. 

Even Israel, our most loyal ally in that volatile region, has not escaped Obama’s new era as the administration ignores that country’s security concerns and insists that Iran can be stopped from developing a nuclear weapon via negotiations.

American foreign policy has never been more muddled or muted.

Here at home, the president is polishing his inequality rhetoric for another political push. But the centrifuges continue to spin in Tehran. Hezbollah, Hamas and al-Qaida terrorize at will. And Russia, China and Iran are more than happy to fill the vacuum created by American indecision and appeasement.

In the coming months, many shiny objects  will be offered up to distract from the failures abroad, but no matter how brightly they shine, they will not eliminate the reality coming.

On Jan. 6, 1941, Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned a wary Congress and populace:

“Every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world — assailed either by arms or by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace.”

Eleven months and one day later, the bill for years of American isolationism came due at Pearl Harbor. On Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 11, 2012, the first two installments of our current bill came due.

We can deny it all we want, but the next installment is coming.

We can either pay it now on our terms or beg forgiveness from the future after it arrives special delivery with a nuclear trigger.

Geoff Caldwell writes on national and international affairs. He lives in Joplin. Contact him at

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