Obama and his sycophants are busy praising him for getting the United States out of Iraq, but ignore the implications of that for U.S. national security in the region. We never should have invaded Iraq and I was an early critic of George W. Bush for starting a war we did not need. Worse, Bush’s war changed the strategic picture in the region and helped Iran spread its influence.

So comes Barack Obama, who simply follows the withdrawal timetable that George W. Bush had agreed to. Damn them both. Bush’s stupidity in Iraq should haunt him to his grave. And frankly, if there are fires of hell for causing thousands to die for nothing, then he will have a well deserved hot seat. Obama, rather than proposing a more sound, strategic policy, proved to be lazy. He went along with the Bush plan and essentially abandoned Iraq to Iran. Iran now controls the center and south of Iraq, which is dominated by Shia Iraqis. The Kurds have the north and the Sunnis dominate in the west. The center of power lies with the Shia in the center.

What should he, Obama, have done? Come up with a policy for containing Iran before we abandoned Iraq to Iran. Instead, he simply voted present.

We saw a similar surrender in the hype surrounding the ridiculously named “Arab Spring.” The only thing flowering in North Africa–Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Tunisia–is more Islamic extremism. Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was an aging dictator, true. But he did keep the muslim radicals in check. Rather than facilitate a transition to a regime willing to work with the United States against Islamic extremists, Obama voted present again and did nothing. The absence of leadership created a vacuum that the Muslim Brothers happily filled.

Now, in the latest unrest in Mali and the terrorist attack in Algeria, we are seeing the fruits of Obama’s failure of vision and policy.

To paraphrase Billy Joel, Obama did not start the fire, but he sure is hell helping toss fuel to keep the flames hot. The terrorists who attacked the gas facility in Algeria came out of Libya. In Amenas is in one of the most isolated, desolate spots on the earth. It is on the Algeria’s eastern border with Libya. The terrorists who carried out this attack had insider knowledge. They didn’t just drive to some neighboring town, check-in to a hotel and prep the attack. Getting there without air lift is very difficult. While I applaud the tough response of Algeria, the Government of Algeria also is covering up evidence that some of its own security police, who were supposed to guard and protect the plant, apparently cooperated with the terrorists.

And what is Barack doing about this? Nothing. He’s acting like a forest ranger obsessing about cigarette butts while ignoring the raging forest fire over the ridge. It is highly likely that much of Barack Obama’s second term will be dominated by worries about the very Islamic extremists he claimed to have vanquished with the death of Osama Bin Laden.

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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.