Neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton created the chaos that defines the present state of the Middle East, but their insane policies certainly have exacerbated the situation. We should not blame the President and the Secretary of State for unsettling matters there. That “honor” belongs to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Damn them to hell.

Those two idiots deposed Saddam Hussein and, without a plan of governance to succeed the Iraqi despot, opened the door for Iran to install its surrogates and ignite fear among the Sunnis in the region that the Shia were taking control. Whenever I hear Republican neocons, like John Bolton, lamenting the Obama policy, I want to strangle them barehanded. Those morons started this fire and now want to pretend that they are the foreign policy version of Smokey the Bear.

But it is Barack and Hillary who are wreaking havoc now. Instead of new policies designed to calm sectarian fires, Barack and Hillary have signed out for out Bushing Bush.

I am not weak-in-the-knees about using covert and clandestine action to depose a foreign leader. If it serves the interest of the United States, I am okay with that. But, if we apply that standard–i.e., does it serve our interest–one question springs to mind with respect to Syria–WHAT THE HELL ARE WE THINKING?

Bashir Assad is no Ghandi. But neither is he Pol Pot nor Hitler. We know for sure that he is not a religious fanatic and, while he has a penchant for serving his own interests above all, he allowed Sunnis and Christians to exist and live without trying to exterminate them. But that kind of regime apparently was beyond the pale as far as Barack and Hillary were concerned. The Obama Administration allowed itself to be gamed by the Saudis, the Qataris and the increasingly Islamist Government of Turkey. Those three Sunni regimes recognized our Iran phobia and played us like Jimi Hendrix played a guitar. They convinced Barack and Hillary that Iran’s influence was spreading and must be stopped and persuaded the United States to back a covert operation to fund and arm “Syrian” rebels.

What our “good” friends the Turks and the Saudis did not tell us is that they were going to recruit and arm men ideologically in sync with what we once called Al Qaeda in Iraq. Sure, there were other “moderate” Sunnis eager to depose Assad, but the actual muscle behind those carrying out the most deadly assaults were AQI.

Barack and Hillary helped set in motion the challenge to Assad’s authority and the spread of the civil war in Syria. The rebels are doing very well near the frontiers with Turkey and Jordan. The country is fractured and the chance that Syria’s central government will remain a force throughout the country slim. Even more unlikely and improbable is the rise of a western style, cosmopolitan civilian government. The people who replace Assad, to take control of Sunni areas in Syria, will be Islamists and will rule by their vision of Sharia.

And what is Obama doing? Trying to figure out whether to hit a seven iron or an eight iron on the par 3 at his local golf course. The man is hapless, clueless and feckless. It is stunning the danger he has helped create in the already volatile Middle East. The coming year will bring more drama and uncertainty.

There is one thing we can take to the bank–the influence of the United States in the region will be further eroded and our ability to influence events in a way that serves our security and economic interests will shrivel like Gorilla testicles in the frigid Artic Ocean.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.