Obama stands down

The West must find a leader to lead against the rad­i­cal Is­lamic ter­ror­ists

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

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.

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