When President Obama came into office, promising to be the anti-Bush, with a personal history of eating dog as a child in Indonesia and the middle name "Hussein" indicating a special ability relate to the Islamic world, President Obama gave his famous Cairo outreach speech to the Islamic world to highlight a bold new chapter in closer Western-Islamic World relations.
It's puzzling enough that the jihad has grown tremendously since 2009 after losing its allure to young Moslem men by seeing jihadis slaughter Moslems in Iraq and seeing American troops slaughtering jihadis in turn.
But why are so many from the West joining the jihad in Syria?
As many as 12,000 foreigners have gone to Syria to fight the government of Bashar Assad. Many have joined extremist groups, including the al-Nusra front, an al-Qaida affiliate, and the Islamic State group, which now controls a territory straddling Syria and Iraq.
I don't remember reading about many from the West flocking to Iraq during the Bush administration to fight for the jihad. But they sure are eager now:
The cause of all this angst is European nations facing a growing problem with young Moslem men being recruited by radical Islamic clergy to go fight alongside (and often against) the Syrian rebels. European intelligence officials believe over 3,000 European Moslems (including at least 500 from Britain) have gone to Syria so far and about ten percent have been killed. More than ten percent have returned and these jihad veterans often seek out new recruits. These jihadis are very effective at attracting new volunteers, although so far only about 10 per 100,000 Moslems have been persuaded to go. As small as that portion is, a far larger percentage (over ten percent) of European Moslems will admit to admiring the goals and methods of Islamic terrorists. Most of those who did go to Syria are now more radicalized than when they left and police fear they may contribute to more Islamic terrorism in Europe.
Has the president's "responsibly ending" our war in Iraq been viewed as a retreat?
Could it be that President Obama's "outreach" was viewed by Islamist-friendly Moslems as a sign of weakness?
When Bush 43 was viewed as a Crusader (with all the misinterpretations of Christian Europe trying to liberate lands lost to Moslem invaders notwithstanding), perhaps joining the jihad didn't seem like the best way to reach your 30th birthday.
But with America viewed as checked out of the war on terror except for drone strikes in distant Afghanistan and Pakistan, heading to jihad seems safer and more likely to be a success.
Somebody is confused. It might not be me.