I'm going to be the bad guy and go a step further: I do not believe that Americans would rally behind Obama after another 9/11 like they did with Bush, because most Americans I know, including some who voted for Obama and in the main agree with him (yes, hard as it is to believe, I do have some friends in that part of the political spectrum that I haven't already completely alienated), because they understand something that is a critical difference.
When 9/11 happened on Bush's watch, it happened because the terrorists were fanatics that hate The Great Satan that is America. We were friends with Israel, we were (in their misguided fantasies) corrupting the Islamic Middle East with our imperialist Western ways, and all that rigamarole.
If another 9/11 happens, and this one on Obama's watch, people understand that it will be because we have emboldened the bad actors. Every decision we've made in the Middle East had been the wrong one - regime change in Egypt, Qaddafi in Libya, our role in Afghanistan, the pullout from Iraq, our stance in Syria, et cetera, ad nauseum, ad infinitum, amen.
Obama has weakened this nation, and the bad actors know it. To them, we are not seen as compromising or placating; to them, we are seen as vulnerable to attack. We lack will in our national leadership, our borders are more porous than ever, and we're doing nothing about it.
There is a very small but very strident cabal of people in this country who think that 9/11 was Bush's fault: inside job, fire doesn't melt steel, the Jews were forewarned, yada yada yada. If another attack happens now, a very large group of reasonable-minded people will already know that Obama had a hand in making it happen, and they will be right. Those people will rally together for the nation, but in doing so they will make Obama own it.
Echoing that -- and our Facebook persiflage where I once again pushed "Deepak Lal libertarianism," Judge Richard Epstein has an interesting piece: Pax Americana is Dead.
The second issue Friedman never addressed is the deterioration in world peace that has happened since President Obama became president. No one can claim that Iraq was at peace when George W. Bush left office, but the violence had been curbed. Since Obama has taken over, relative tranquility yielded to factional squabbling, followed by vicious aggression that caught the President woefully off guard. Iraq is not alone. The number of hotspots in the world -- including Gaza, Syria, Libya, Nigeria, Ukraine and the China Sea -- is increasing. The President wrings his hands over how difficult it has become to find credible allies in the world to address these problems without ever asking why no one trusts him. So he resolves to hold back on the use of American force overseas. Armed with that certainty, every tin pot dictator and terrorist group thinks it has an open field in which to run.
The President's blunders remind us that we need Pax Americana in international affairs. If the United States maintains a large military force and is prepared to use it, the threat of American force could snuff out a large number of troublemakers and help decent people organize their own affairs. It was this policy that made NATO such a success in the immediate post-war years. It will also allow the United States to use force effectively when needed. But once our commander-in-chief neutralizes America's military might, weaker but more determined nations and groups know that they have a free hand to follow their own aggressive agendas. Worse still, this passive policy invites new thugs like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to propel themselves into regional prominence.
In order to rally behind him, wouldn't he have to be in the lead? Waiting.