American foreign policy has had its share of bad decisions in our lifetimes.

In the decade leading to World War 2, U.S. policy helped to build and strengthen the Japanese military, supplying them with valuable resources like oil, scrap iron and steel. With the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 and the U.S. entrance into the war, Japan used those resources to fight against and kill Americans.

In recent history, the U.S. organized and supported the Mujahadin of Osama Bin Laden and other members of "Al Qaeda" when it was fighting the Soviets after they invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

A year after the terrorist attacks against American on Sept. 11, 2001, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings.

The primers were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines. The primers served as the Afghan school system's core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books.

Foreign policy has been as bad or even worse under this administration which seems as confused today as when Obama took office five years ago. Last Sept. 11, the president, as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ignored warning flags and were caught off guard during the attacks against the U.S. compound in Benghazi. We lost four American lives, including the ambassador.

Even foreign news outlets such as Germany's Die Welt are writing about the Obama failures and his total naivety regarding the volatile Middle East.

"U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East policy is in ruins," it stated. "Like no president before him, he tried to win over the Arab world. After some initial hesitation, he came out clearly on the side of the democratic revolutions. In this context, he must accept the fact that he has snubbed old close allies such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Egyptian military.

"And now parts of the freed societies are turning against the country which helped bring them into being. Anti-Americanism in the Arab world has even increased to levels greater than in the Bush era. It's a bitter outcome for Obama."

The writer went on to state that Washington has the look of a distracted superpower and that image of weakness is being exploited by terrorists groups like al-Qaida, which remain active despite Obama's assurances to us that the war on terrorism is over.

The German writer stated that the attack last Sept. 11 in Benghazi indicates that America's standing as a world power has declined.

"For a superpower, it is not enough just to want to be loved," he stated. "You have to scare the bad guys to keep them in check."

Even though they come from a foreign source, this president should heed those words. He certainly needs all the advice and help he can get.

Last Sept. 12, Obama left Washington for a political fund raiser in Las Vegas while we were still assessing the damage and counting U.S. casualties after the embassy attack in Benghazi. Then last week, in the midst of violent protests in Egypt and the ousting of Mohammed Morsi, Secretary of State John Kerry was spotted on his yacht at his holiday home in Nantucket.

These are not exactly reassuring pictures of a president and secretary of state with their fingers on the pulse of global events in crisis.

By Jim Zbick

jzbick@tnonline.com