Intelligence analysis is rarely a 100% solution. In the case of what led to our embassy closing across a significant portion of the globe there is already leaked information that the disagreement is whether the plot is solely against our embassy in Yemen or represents a broader plot.
Intelligence analysis is clearly part science, part art, part instinct and part making your best guess. History tells us that al Qaeda likes to hit multiple targets, that is, no doubt part of the current calculus.
There is, however, much more at play here than the quality of the intelligence analysis. In the first case the Presidential declaration that al Qaeda is ‘on the run’ represents either a comprehensive naiveté or a level of stupidity and denial seldom seen. Wishing and hoping is not a firm foundation for foreign policy, although we did have a senior Islamic Cleric in the White House advising the administration on foreign policy in the Islamic world, perhaps this is where the idea that closing 21 embassies in response to a threat was a good idea.
These closings represent a loud and clear message that we would rather hide under the bed than confront a potential enemy that intends to attack American soil; an enemy that we have ‘on the run’.
I would suggest the following steps as an alternative strategy. First, get all low to moderate level employees out of the embassy compounds to safe locations; fly the families out immediately. Second, order a limited number of senior people to cover basic daily operations of the embassy. Third have a clear plan to get those folks who remain to protected parts of the embassy in the event of an attack. Finally put an additional company of Marines on the wall with no limitations related to rules of engagement beyond the order that if they are attacked, they are to return fire with everything they’ve got. I’ll put 200 Marines, in defensive positions, up against any attack the Jihadists would care to mount.
The idea that an empty embassy is not a desirable target is ridiculous. Sure they want to kill Americans but to destroy multiple embassies in the Islamic world would also be considered a victory as it would be one more step toward ‘forcing’ the Americans out of the country by eliminating embassies. Recent history in Benghazi, Cairo and Yemen, as well as a variety of additional threats has demonstrated a focus on embassies. The closing of the embassies is one more demonstration of weakness, one more message that we are not prepared to confront the evil that the attacks represent.
We must keep in mind as well that the Jihadists are not unsophisticated. Our inability to maintain classified information has given them a bird’s eye view of what we have and what we can do. They have been adapting to new realities for two decades, they demonstrate an exceptional ability to continue to adapt. What if the ‘chatter’ that led to the closings was a Red Herring? It could have been less about an attack than to gauge reaction as a means to evaluate American commitment to our embassies in the Islamic world. “Hey, Mohammed, let’s pull the chain and see what flushes.”
The Jihadists understand commitment and power. They will, invariably, attack whatever weakness they can find. They will also endeavor to create the impression of weakness whenever possible. In this case they do not even have to attack us; they’ve already made a point to the Islamic world in general. Bin Laden called America the ‘weak horse’; Islamists will take every opportunity to remind the Islamic world that Osama was correct.
Just off the top of my head, look at the list; no mention of Islam or terror in the Fort Hood report, the victims of Major Hassan as he screamed Allahu Akbar are victims of ‘workplace violence, radical Islamists invited to discuss American policy in the White House, dozens of Muslim Brotherhood members also taking tea with the President and his staff. The Attorney General simply could not testify that Islamic radicalism had anything to do with terrorism, could not get the words out of his mouth. Hillary’s close friend and staffer Ms. Abedin has a mother who is a major figure in the Muslim Brotherhood’s version of ‘ladies auxiliary’, proscriptions at the State Department and the FBI against actually using words that describe the threat and the people who generate the threats. Those agencies along with DHS employ individuals with clear histories or radicalism to teach ‘sensitivity’ to Islam. Let’s not forget ‘man caused disaster’ as a substitute for the description of terrorism. Benghazi was not terrorism it was a reaction to a video.
It goes on and on and the current embassy closings is just the latest in a long line of predictable appeasements.
The administration fails to accept the fact that to willing provide moral support to the enemy is what the eventual result of these embassy closings will be. Another bit of proof that we just do not want to fight back.