“The Obama administration thought that reducing the American presence in the Middle East would contribute to the demobilization of religious radicals and a reduction in international tension. Looking back, that increasingly appears to be exactly the wrong approach.” So writes Walter Russell Mead in his American Interest blog. It’s a tough criticism coming from someone who is a reflective critic rather than a reflexive opponent of the president.

Mead goes on: “Washington quickly disentangled itself from Iraq without a Status of Forces agreement with Baghdad that might have helped keep the country stable as Syria burns and the Maliki regime grows more and more repressive. The perception that the United States was in a state of withdrawal and retreat led some powers to seize opportunities and others to respond to threats; the result has been the religious and political polarization behind a whole series of conflicts.”

This is just another example of how the Obama Democrats came in believing that everything George W. Bush did was an idiotic blunder and that the world -– the Muslim world especially – would love America now that we had elected a president who “didn’t look like” other presidents. Alas, Islamist terrorists hate us as much as ever and (as Obama and Hillary Clinton didn’t want to admit, to the point of perhaps lying to and certainly misleading the American public) inflicted damage on us in Benghazi. We’re paying a price for the mistakes of a naive and vindictively partisan president.