Is the Middle East better off than two years ago?

Our embassies in Libya and Egypt have been ruthlessly stormed–on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, no less. Four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, are dead, victims of what appears to be not some spontaneous protest but a well-coordinated, pre-meditated assassination by Islamic terrorists. Ambassador Chris Stevens’ body was dragged through the streets of Benghazi following the attack–although some reports suggest the men dragging him were taking him to the hospital for help and not partaking in a triumphal repeat of Mogadishu ’93 or Fallujah ’04. That–and the circumstances surrounding Stevens’ death–remain unclear as I write this. What is certain, however, is that the Obama administration’s immediate, reflexive response was not to condemn the jihadists who perpetrated these vile acts but to castigate the filmmaker who supposedly incited them and preach about limits on free speech when it comes to Islam.

Meanwhile: 1) The radical new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt is calling for more anti-filmmaker protests this Friday on the heels of its recent re-militarization of the Sinai 2) Our embassies in Tunisia and Algeria are on high alert 3) Syria is aflame and awash in blood 4) Yemen is an Al Qaeda-friendly shambles 5) The Jordanian and Saudi monarchies are quaking in their boots. 6) Jihadists in Gaza continue to fire rockets and missiles into Israel and 7) President Obama has callously declined a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a moment when our shared enemy, Iran, is on the threshold of acquiring nuclear weapons.

Forget “Are you better off than four years ago?” In the Middle East, the question regarding the Obama administration is, “Are you better off than you were two years ago, pre-Arab Spring?”  The answer from everybody in the region–other than the Muslim Brotherhood and the hardcore Salafists who are now ascendant–is a resounding “No!” Followed by a loud, desperate cry of “Help!”– particularly if they are a Jew or Christian.

In light of these recent events, can we all just admit now what has been painfully obvious for a long time? The vaunted “Arab Spring” has become a sinister Islamist Winter that has replaced U.S.-friendly (albeit undeniably wicked) secular tyrants with something far worse: Islamist fanatics who are gleefully fanning the flames of jihadist fury against America, Israel and all things Western. The Obama administration has encouraged and rewarded these nascent Islamist regimes at every turn while pushing Israel into a corner and emboldening the Iranian regime in its relentless pursuit of the Bomb. As a result, it’s now not a matter of if war is coming to the Middle East, but when? If I was a betting man, I’d say sooner–possibly much sooner–rather than later.

Mitt Romney has, inexplicably, largely avoided the topic of national security thus far as he focuses on America’s crumbling economy and crippling debt (a national security challenge in its own right). The spectacle of John Kerry–last seen cavorting with the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo–portraying President Obama as a rough-and tough terror warrior at the recent Democratic National Convention while reminding us for the umpteenth time that Osama Bin Laden is dead? Unanswered by the Romney team–even as national security threats far more dangerous than Bin Laden and Al Qaeda continue to mount.

Anti-American Islamists, led by the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, are on the rise throughout the Middle East and North Africa. America’s influence in the region is waning while that of Putin’s Russia increases. Israel now feels completely alone. Iran is ready for the Mahdi, arming Hezbollah to the teeth and merrily enriching uranium. All of this has happened and continues to happen under President Obama’s watch.

If Governor Romney does not hammer these points home forcefully in his debate on foreign policy with President Obama on October 22nd–not with wonkish policy talk but in stark, sober terms that the average American can understand–he misses a golden opportunity. Events will soon take place in the Middle East that will make the American people forget all about unemployment numbers and the debt. Perhaps even before the U.S. election in November. But don’t worry: Osama bin Laden is dead so all is well.