William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 10:01 A.M. ET:  We know we're in trouble when the most talked-about White House action of the week is the first lady's appearance at the Oscars.   Obama's has become a kind of above-it-all presidency.   More show than substance.  Lots of perks and parties.  And a 24/7 campaign.

We see it dramatically in foreign policy, in spreading the illusion that the war on terror is pretty much wrapped up.  But James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation, who's written widely on terrorism, has a very different take on reality.  From the Washington Free Beacon:

The administration is writing a narrative that the al Qaeda threat is on the wane. The White House now distinguishes between al Qaeda "core" and al Qaeda "franchises" or affiliates. Basically, it argues, the core represents the major threat to the homeland, and most of the core is gone. This leads to the comfortable view that Washington's task now is just to monitor the franchise threat and keep watch on the homeland. Somalia and Yemen are seen as success stories and models for elsewhere.

Essentially, the White House has drawn a clear line between groups focused on attacking U.S. and other Western targets (which it cares about) and others (which it largely doesn't).

But this narrative overlooks a lot. It ignores the resurgence of al Qaeda in Iraq, the foreign fighters in Syria, and allies of the Taliban and al Qaeda, such as the Haqqani network in Pakistan. Nor can the White House explain the chain of terrorists that has left a trail of blood from Libya to Mali to Algeria.

In describing the challenge as the mere dismantling of a transnational terrorist network, rather than as battling a global Islamist insurgency, the White House misses the true nature of the danger. Al Qaeda does not have the narrow goal of attacking the U.S. Its goal is to seize power across a wide swath of the globe. Threatening U.S. vital interests is just part of the strategy for getting there.

Yet the administration appears blind to the larger, ideological struggle. It seems completely baffled about how to respond to the Arab Spring.

COMMENT:  Very well stated, and a good introduction to what we'll face for the remainder of the age of Obama.  Contrast Carafano's clear understanding with the expected confirmation today of Chuck Hagel, who has consistently ridiculed the war on terror, and you get an accurate picture of where we are.

The next generation will pay the price.

February 26, 2013