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

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Happy Talk

Three days after British Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The European Council believes the creation of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria and the Islamist extremism and export of terrorism on which it is based is a direct threat to every European country,” Dana Milbank tells us that Barack Obama delivered the following message at a Democratic fund-raiser (where else?) in upscale Westchester County, New York:
“Yes, the Middle East is challenging, but the truth is it’s been challenging for quite a while,” he [Obama]said. “I promise you things are much less dangerous now than they were 20 years ago, 25 years ago or 30 years ago. This is not something that is comparable to the challenges we faced during the Cold War.”

Speaking to another group of contributors that same day in Newport, R.I., the president said that the post-9/11 security apparatus “makes us in the here and now pretty safe” and that the threat from ISIS “doesn’t immediately threaten the homeland.”

I hope Obama’s chillax message turns out to be correct, but the happy talk is not reassuring. It’s probably true that the threat of domestic radicalization is greater in Europe than in the United States (hence the British plan to confiscate some passports) but Obama’s sanguinity is jarring compared with the mood of NATO allies Obama is meeting in Europe this week.
Today, Brett Baier of FoxNews reports:
“In Estonia today, President Obama gave his first news conference since Steven Sotloff was beheaded by Islamist militants. It was also the first time the president answered questions since his infamous "we have no strategy" line last week. And the president did something remarkable: He dug deeper. The big news going in was to see how the president ‘cleaned up’ last week's statement. So after a strong opening about the atrocity of the newest beheading, the president said the strategy is to "degrade and destroy" ISIS. But later, he backtracked and said goal was to make ISIS a "manageable problem." So which is it? Destroy or manage? And how exactly do you manage barbarians who are beheading your citizens? What promised to be a clarifying moment instead offered more fuzzy wording. And we're left again with the question - what is out strategy with ISIS?”
Obama's contradictory comments are becoming all too common. The measure of a good leader is to establish clear goals, define an understandable strategy for achieving those goals, and then allow professionals to identify the tactics that will allow the strategy to succeed and the goals to be met. This can be done in days, not weeks or months.

Barack Obama doesn't seem to understand that. In fact, he doesn't seem able to commit to a set of clear goals where Islamic radicalism and ISIS are involved. It's almost as if he's using 'deliberation' as an excuse for not enunciating the threat in clear terms, clearly identifying the underlying cause (radical Islam) and then acting in a meaningful way. Because of this, he projects weakness and indecisiveness, very bad qualities in a dangerous world.

I know I'm not alone in stating that I have a broad-based feeling of unease as as I watch this president respond to events. As Dana Milbank states: "President Obama is not worried. And that is unnerving."


Of course, Barack Obama still has defenders who trust him implicitly and still believe, despite evidence to contrary, that he is the smartest guy in the room. One of Obama's defenders is Peter Beinart who argued in a muddled article in the left-leaning Atlantic that "“the president is neither a dove nor a hawk. He’s a fierce minimalist.”

Richard Fernandez, certainly no admirer of Barack Obama, comments:
Unfortunately Beinart avoids defining what is just enough. Where is the Pole Star in this murk? No answer is attempted except that Obama will point it out and not because Beinart can explain where it is. He ends on a note of touching faith: “Barack Obama didn’t become president by tilting at windmills.”

No, Obama became president because people like Beinart believed he would take them to a different place than where they now stand, with each hour bringing a new humiliation and crisis. Roger Simon wrote on Twitter: “Not a single #liberal friend of mine wants to discuss politics now. They’re humiliated by Obama.” But they still trust him. When the president declared al-Qaeda decimated, the War on Terror over and said ISIS was nothing but a jayvee team, Obama was telling the base what they wanted to hear. What they thought Obama had achieved. People like Beinart believed it. Too bad it wasn’t true.

But they still trust him.
Just like they trusted him when he advocated the overthrow of Hosni Mubarek (result: the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt, only to be overthrown (thankfully) by a Military coup). Just like they trusted him when he told us that invading Libya was a necessary "humanitarian" act (result: the Islamist takeover of Libya, the lose of thousands of surface to air missiles and now, 11 missing airliners). Just like they trusted him when he withdrew all troops from Iraq (result: chaos and the ascendency of ISIS). Just like they trusted him when he weaseled out of any action in Syria (result: ignoring his military advisors who warned him about the growing threat of ISIS—18 months ago!) Just like they trusted him to negotiate with Iran, the world leading sponsor of Islamist terror (result: Iran moves ever closer to nuclear weapons).

The only thing "minimalist" about Barack Obama is his understanding of the reality of the Middle East and the quality of decisions relating to that region.