The price of in­dif­fer­ence

Obama’s tap dance around re­al­ity leaves the fight­ing to the French

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Barack Obama’s heart is just not in the fight against the en­e­mies of the West. Why fight when you can make a speech, de­liver a few re­marks of empty rhetoric at photo-ops, and hope ev­ery­thing turns out all right. Fight­ing is so fa­tigu­ing. Bash­ing Repub­li­cans, Ge­orge W. Bush and the Con­fed­er­ate flag is more fun.

The back­lash against the ir­res­o­lute pres­i­dent has forced his hand, and he an­swered his grow­ing cho­rus of crit­ics by dis­patch­ing Amer­i­can war­planes to bomb oil trucks tak­ing ISIS gaso­line to the black mar­ket. The war on oil trucks could have been dis­patched ear­lier. The Pen­tagon knew about them months ago.

Satel­lite pho­to­graphic re­con­nais­sance as well as drones showed where and how oil was be­ing moved to mar­ket, with the Turks, by the way, look­ing the other way as the trucks passed through their ter­ri­tory. Why was a strike against th­ese truck­ing fleets not con­sid­ered un­til now? Did the U.S. com­man­ders prej­u­dice the at­tacks by drop­ping leaflets alert­ing the driv­ers that the at­tacks were com­ing?

Mr. Obama de­cries his crit­ics as “pop-offs,” and in­sists that he does, too, have a war strat­egy, a long-term plan to “de­grade and de­stroy” ISIS. But it’s clear to ev­ery­one, if not to the pres­i­dent him­self, that his strat­egy, what­ever it is, is not work­ing. As ISIS now turns its full at­ten­tion to making war against tar­gets in Europe and prob­a­bly soon in Amer­ica, the ghost strat­egy that no one can see en­dan­gers both the United States and the rest of the fright­ened world.

The Western al­liance has for­got­ten that noth­ing suc­ceeds like suc­cess, and suc­cess for ISIS is the de­struc­tion of civil­ian life through ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity. So long as ISIS con­tin­ues to make “progress” with ter­ror­ist at­tacks it will at­tract re­cruits. There are enough de­ranged and dis­ori­ented young men and women in the Is­lamic world to fill their ranks as quickly as the Western airstrikes de­plete those ranks.

It’s dif­fi­cult to as­sess how much sup­port the ter­ror­ists have among the Is­lamic masses, but it’s no doubt con­sid­er­able. When the crowd at a Turk­ish soc­cer match was asked to ob­serve a mo­ment’s silent re­flec­tion on the Paris mas­sacre, the crowd re­sponded with the ji­hadist bat­tle cry: “Alah Akbar!” — “Al­lah is great!”

Sev­eral opin­ion polls, as well as frag­ments of in­ter­views with or­di­nary Mus­lims by ra­dio and tele­vi­sion re­porters, have shown wide­spread ra­tio­nal­iza­tions for ter­ror­ist may­hem, if not nec­es­sar­ily sym­pa­thy, among Mus­lims in Bel­gium and France. Many of those were born and reared in Europe.

The task be­fore the United States and the West is not only the elim­i­na­tion of ISIS and the end of the acts of ter­ror­ism, but to neu­tral­ize ter­ror­ist in­flu­ence in the mosques and on the streets of the Mid­dle East. ISIS has made frag­ile al­liances with other ter­ror­ist groups in Libya, Cen­tral Africa and In­done­sia. How­ever ten­u­ous those al­liances, per­mit­ting them to re­cruit and spread their pro­pa­ganda with­out chal­lenge is a men­ace that must be dealt with soon. Demon­strat­ing they have noth­ing to fear from a flac­cid West and an ir­res­o­lute leader is not the way to do that. Weak­ness at­tracts only buz­zards.

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