A prom­ise to de­fend Amer­ica on the cheap

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY WES­LEY PRU­DEN

Maybe Pres­i­dent Obama is be­gin­ning to un­der­stand the Is­lamist threat against Amer­ica. Maybe. If he does, we’ll owe a debt to the Americans who lost their heads to the bar­bar­ians. He still doesn’t un­der­stand what he has to do about it.

He talks about “de­grad­ing” the bar­bar­ians, when the word he should be us­ing is “de­stroy­ing.” He must make it clear that he takes no pris­on­ers and is not in­ter­ested in “bring­ing the en­emy to the bar­gain­ing ta­ble.” It’s too late to “win their hearts and minds.” He must make them dead, and for good mea­sure prom­ise to bury them with pig en­trails, as John J. Per­sh­ing dealt with Mus­lim ex­trem­ists with dis­patch and ef­fi­ciency in the Philip­pines just be­fore the out­break of World War I. He threw the fear of Al­lah into them, and maybe Mr. Obama could, too.

Mr. Obama can’t come to terms with who the en­emy is and how it must be dealt with. He talked brave talk in an in­ter­view with Steve Kroft of the CBS pro­gram “60 Min­utes,” but the pres­i­dent, who was de­prived of an Amer­i­can child­hood, never heard the proper an­swer to the boast by the school­yard bully: “Yeah, you and who else?”

He sends his war­planes on mis­sions to “de­grade” the po­si­tions of the Is­lamic State, or ISIS or ISIL as it’s usu­ally called, and takes pains to limit dam­age. They’re still hit­ting pickup trucks and now the oc­ca­sional wheel­bar­row. (The pres­i­dent is still learn­ing about ma­chin­ery.)

But he isn’t con­duct­ing a buildup of planes and forces, one that would per­suade the foe that the United States means sus­tained business, re­ly­ing in­stead, as Rowan Scar­bor­ough re­ports in The Wash­ing­ton Times, on what­ever planes are al­ready on hand in the re­gion. The pres­i­dent ap­par­ently has a strat­egy, de­vel­oped since his ear­lier ad­mis­sion that he didn’t have one, of wait­ing on Iraqi troops to get their act to­gether and go to war. If the past is a guide, this will be the mother of all waits.

John Boehner, the speaker of the House, on Sun­day told ABC’s “This Week” that the United States may have “no choice” but to put its own sol­diers into the mix of Iraqi, Kur­dish and “mod­er­ate” Syr­ian rebels if they can’t do it them­selves, and no Western an­a­lyst thinks they can. “Th­ese are bar­bar­ians,” he said, “and they in­tend to kill us. And if we don’t kill them first, we’re go­ing to pay the price.”

This is the mes­sage Mr. Obama should be send­ing to the bat­tle­field, that he in­tends to give the Is­lamists no quar­ter, that their days of be­head­ing in­no­cents to de­fend their “faith” will soon be over. The pres­i­dent is more de­ter­mined to shift the blame for fall­ing asleep while ISIS col­lected the men and re­sources to run amok in Iraq, and to save the rep­u­ta­tion of Is­lam against those he says per­vert the re­li­gion of peace. He in­sists that no mat­ter what, the 1,600 Amer­i­can ad­vis­ers and “spe­cial op­er­a­tions” troops he has dis­patched to the war is all he’ll send. “We are as­sist­ing Iraq in a very real bat­tle that’s tak­ing place on their soil, with their troops,” he says. “This is not Amer­ica against ISIL, this is Amer­ica lead­ing the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to as­sist a coun­try with whom we have a se­cu­rity part­ner­ship.” This is the fa­mil­iar clap­trap of diplo­matic bu­reau­crats that re­as­sures no­body and fright­ens every­body.

Is­lamic ex­trem­ism “means that we’re go­ing to see for some time ... that in a whole bunch of coun­tries we’re go­ing to see rad­i­cal groups spring up ... where you don’t have a strong state se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus ... But rather than play whacka-mole and send U.S. troops wher­ever this oc­curs, we have to build strong part­ner­ships.”

More clap­trap. If there are no will­ing part­ners, the pres­i­dent should have said, that since he has twice taken an oath to de­fend and pre­serve the peo­ple who elected him, he will lead the United States to do what­ever is nec­es­sary, for how­ever long is nec­es­sary, to de­stroy those who set out to de­stroy Amer­ica. This is the writ that runs for as long as the wind blows, the rivers run, the snow falls and the sun shines.

The pres­i­dent in­sists that the fault for en­abling the bar­bar­ians to slip up on us is not his, but the fault of the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices. That’s not true. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the di­rec­tor of the De­fense In­tel­li­gence Agency, pre­dicted to Congress last Fe­bru­ary that ISIS “prob­a­bly will at­tempt to take ter­ri­tory in Iraq and Syria to ex­hibit strength in 2014.”

The pres­i­dent can still run, but he can’t hide. Wes­ley Pru­den is ed­i­tor emer­i­tus of The Wash­ing­ton Times.

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