Years ago the American people made fun of “Baghdad Bob’s” attempts to convince the world that American troops were not closing in on the nation’s capital, even though Marines were only blocks away. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi Information Minister, was a joke. Today, Americans should hang their head in shame because they have their own Baghdad Bob — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
Yemen is spiraling out of control — its president abandoned ship and U.S. special operations forces had to be evacuated this past weekend — and yet Mr. Earnest still maintained Wednesday that the Obama administration considers its efforts there to be a resounding success.
Mediaite reported March 25:
John Karl: Just a quick one first on Yemen. I know you’re asked this after every time something terrible happens in Yemen, but now that we have, you know, essentially complete chaos in Yemen, does the White House still believe Yemen is the model for a counterterrorism strategy?
Josh Earnest: John, the White House does continue to believe that a successful counter terrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government, to have local fighters on the ground take the fight to extremists in their own country. And the United States can serve both to diplomatically offer up some support to central governments. We can offer very tangible support to local security forces in the form of training and equipping. And we can also support the operations of those security forces … whether it’s the deployment of ISR capability or, in the case of Iraq, military airstrikes. And that is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat that we face from extremists in places like Yemen and Somalia — and is a template that we believe can succeed in mitigating the threat emanating from Syria as well.
John Karl: That’s astounding. You’re saying that you still see Yemen as a model? Building up a central government, which has now collapsed? A president who has apparently fled the country? Saudi troops massing on one border, the Iranians supporting the rebels? You consider this a model for counterterrorism?”
For those who aren’t up to speed, CNN reported March 23:
The U.S. military has pulled its remaining personnel out of Yemen due to the deteriorating security situation, the U.S. State Department said.
The evacuation involved about 100 Special Operations forces members from the Al Anad airbase, sources in the region familiar with the situation told CNN. The State Department called it a temporary relocation.
Those evacuated, which include Navy SEALs and members of the Army’s Delta Force, were the last American forces stationed in the Arab nation, which is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group also known as AQAP.
The New York Times reported today:
Yemeni fighters and army units allied with the Houthi movement closed in on the last redoubt of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen on Wednesday amid news reports that he had fled by boat across the Gulf of Aden, possibly to the tiny African nation of Djibouti. …
The region’s most impoverished country, Yemen has been a central theater of the American fight against Al Qaeda. Along with Syria, Iraq and Libya, Yemen is also now at least the fourth state to veer toward collapse in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolts.
What makes Yemen’s implosion all the more maddening is that the Obama administration is hoping that with the right media coverage it can make enough people believe that nothing is broken. It’s like Chris Farley in “Tommy Boy” after he broke David Spade’s car door and secretly put it back in place. When Mr. Spade’s character came back to his vehicle and the door fell from its hinges, Farley feigned surprise and asked, “What did you do?”
The next president is going to have to deal with the aftermath of Mr. Obama’s disastrous counterterrorism strategy, and when that happens his supporters will act as if it all went downhill the moment their guy left office.
The problem is that the world isn’t like “Tommy Boy.” When an administration fails to acknowledge reality in territory controlled by al Qaeda and its ideological allies, eventually it results in dead Americans.
Only by telling the truth can we truly figure out how to get a handle on a bad situation. The longer we lie to ourselves, the worse our day of reckoning will be. Sadly, it seems as though the White House’s main concern is making sure that judgment day comes sometime after Mr. Obama has left 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.