Obama stands down
The West must find a leader to lead against the radical Islamic terrorists
Surprise is a crucial element in successful warfare, as Stonewall Jackson demonstrated in the early months of the Civil War, as the Japanese demonstrated at Pearl Harbor and as the Islamic terrorists of the Islamic State, or ISIS, demonstrated in the streets of Paris.
Barack Obama, a legend of leadership only in his own mind, announces with fanfare that under no circumstances will he commit significant ground forces to “degrade and destroy” the radical Islamic terrorists. This is particularly irresponsible, revealing such strategy — or lack of it — to an enemy who examines every public statement and private rumor to decide what to do next in the relentless attack on the West.
Mr. Obama’s determined refusal to say the words “radical Islamic terrorism,” and to condemn those who do as “trying to make terrorism a Muslim problem rather than a terrorist problem,” is his greatest handicap in degrading and destroying ISIS. Refusing to identify the enemy makes it all the harder to fight a foe with an intellectual rationale as well as brute strength. The fighters for ISIS are not recruited from Baptists and Methodists, but from Islam, and to the chagrin of millions of Muslims it has its roots in Islamic scripture. To refuse to examine this truth increases the difficulty of dealing with the terrorists. It further obscures the urgent necessity for Muslims to seek their own solutions to the threat in their midst. Once and for all, Muslims must come forward in the largest numbers with a determined leadership to end the long history of their religion being used for aggressive violence.
Nor is it beneficial to the cause of victory to continue to insist that it will be a long struggle. That may be true, but repeatedly saying so encourages the enemy and discourages a warweary American public. Mr. Obama’s claims of “containing” the enemy are ludicrous in the wake of what happened in Paris. Perhaps ISIS has had to relinquish territory, as the president says, but he ignores the growing allegiance of terrorists in Central Africa, Indonesia and Libya to the ISIS “caliphate.”
Most distressing of all in Mr. Obama’s remarks to reporters in Turkey was his defensiveness that was nothing short of arrogance in refusing to acknowledge his earlier public statements denying the strength and importance of ISIS. No one expects a formal mea culpa, but to get on with his “comprehensive campaign” it is important to recognize and build on earlier mistakes. Mr. Obama, who can’t easily bring himself to acknowledge faults and failures, compounds his snark with refusal to consider the arguments of anyone else. In a single sentence, he accepts that there must be “a serious debate,” but calls his many critics mere annoyances who “pop off.”
He dismisses even the discussion of security issues, the taking in of an increasing number of refugees, as ill-conceived and racist. He argues there must be a commitment to America’s tradition of concern and hospitality, with “rigorous screening security checks.” But the director of the FBI and others have explained that given the difficulties of securing Syrian data such an intensive examination is all but impossible.
There’s mounting evidence, like it or not, that several of the Paris terrorists arrived in Europe as refugees. Mr. Obama’s administration has done little if anything to strengthen the agencies that carry out surveillance. If the struggle against radical Islam is to be a long one, the West must find a leader to lead. Mr. Obama clearly does not want to be that leader.