The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Down from the Mountaintop

When Barack Obama loses the support of Maureen Dowd, you know that he and his administration are in trouble. Yesterday, Dowd, a Left-wing columnist for The New York Times, wrote:
Our president came down from the mountaintop.

He had applied the freshness of his independent thought to the critical matters at hand. He had convened his seminar, reviewed the reviews, analyzed the intelligence every which way, thought anew about everything, and lo and behold, he finally emerged to tell us some stuff we already knew.

We are under attack.

There is evil in the world.

Yemen is a dangerous place that breeds people who want to kill us.

Al Qaeda is determined to attack inside the United States.

Al Qaeda is casting a wide recruiting net for vulnerable young men.

Aspirational terrorists eventually become operational terrorists.

Our airports are not safe.

Metal detectors can’t detect nonmetal explosives sewn into underwear.

Our incomplete no-fly lists are more like “Welcome aboard” lists.

We still can’t connect the dots, even when the dots are flying at us like 3-D asteroids.

Wow! I don’t often agree with Ms. Dowd, but on this matter, she’s spot on. The President need not lecture us on the obvious, he needs to do three things:

First, he needs to clearly identify who it is that we’re dealing with, not with euphemisms or equivocation, but with specificity (by the way … who we’re dealing with is not only al Qaida)

Second, he needs to suggest concrete actions (not tweaks to an already convoluted security process) that will fight the “war” that he appears only recently to have come to recognize (by the way … the war is not solely in Afghanistan, or Yemen for that matter).

Third, he needs to act.

Mark Steyn is the polar opposite of Ms. Dowd, a right wing writer who is certainly no friend of Barack Obama. But on this matter, he and Ms. Dowd tend to agree.
Not long after the Ayatollah Khomeini announced his fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the British novelist suddenly turned up on a Muslim radio station in West London late one night and told his interviewer he'd converted to Islam. Marvelous religion, couldn't be happier, Allahu Akbar and all that.

And the Ayatollah said hey, that's terrific news, glad to hear it. But we're still gonna kill you.

Well, even a leftie novelist wises up under those circumstances.

Evidently, the president of the United States takes a little longer.

Barack Obama has spent the past year doing big-time Islamoschmoozing, from his announcement of Gitmo's closure and his investigation of Bush officials, to his bow before the Saudi king and a speech in Cairo to "the Muslim world" with far too many rhetorical concessions and equivocations. And at the end of it the jihad sent America a thank-you note by way of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's underwear: Hey, thanks for all the outreach! But we're still gonna kill you.

And therein lies the problem—one that I have addressed many times within this blog. Assuming that concessions, or worse, appeasement, will somehow convert fanatic Islamists into people who no longer wish us ill is dangerously naïve. Our president took that road and accomplished exactly … nothing. They still want to kill us and sadly, I’m afraid they always will.

Earlier, I mentioned that the Presdient needs to identify whom we’re at war with. Steyn addresses the question:
On the other hand, if we are now at war, as Obama belatedly concedes, against whom are we warring? "We are at war against al-Qaida," says the president.

Really? But what does that mean? Was the previous month's "isolated extremist," the Fort Hood killer, part of al-Qaida? When it came to spiritual advice, he turned to the same Yemeni-based American-born imam as the Pantybomber, but he didn't have a fully paid-up membership card.

Nor did young Umar Farouk, come to that. Granted the general overcredentialization of American life, the notion that it doesn't count as terrorism unless you're a member of Local 437 of the Amalgamated Union of Isolated Extremists seems perverse and reductive.

We are at war with a fanatic fringe of Islam, one that manifests itself as al Qaida in some instances, but also as “isolated extremists” like Major Hassan in others. To fight this war, we must enlist mainstream Islam, but many are getting the uneasy feeling that mainstream Islam doesn’t really want to fight against the fringe fanatics. In fact, there are some who believe that young Moslems are radicalized in some of the very mosques that are also frequented by “mainstream Islam.”

It’s time for the President of the United States to speak bluntly to the Moslem world, but it’s unlikely that he will do so. Again from Steyn:
But the president of the United States cannot say that because he is overinvested in a fantasy – that, if only that Texan moron Bush had read Khalid Sheikh Mohammed his Miranda rights and bowed as low as Obama did to the Saudi king, we wouldn't have all these problems. So now Obama says, "We are at war."

But he cannot articulate any war aims or strategy because they would conflict with his illusions. And so we will stagger on, playing defense, pulling more and more items out of our luggage – tweezers, shoes, shampoo, snow globes, suppositories – and reacting to every new provocation with greater impositions upon the citizenry.

You can't win by putting octogenarian nuns through full-body scanners.

All you can do is lose slowly. After all, if you can't even address what you're up against with any honesty, you can't blame the other side for drawing entirely reasonable conclusions about your faintheartedness in taking them on.

In a way, that’s what Maureen Dowd was alluding to. It’s just that Steyn says it with an honestly that shatters the illusions of those who think it’s all our fault.