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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Here We Are

On the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9-11, Barack Obama gives a major address. He says many of the right things (and a few that are dead wrong). He tells us that he is committed to defeating ISIS and that he will (with some major qualifications) take the fight to the terrorists. He outlines a broad strategy that is intended to "degrade and then destroy" the Islamist army. But as I've said many times before,  pay attention to the actions that follow Barack Obama's words, not the words themselves.

In his address, Barack Obama said something that in my view is a tell. He said, "ISIL is not Islamist, no religion would condone the killing of innocents." So ... the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is not Islamic? The White House argues that he was being figurative, and maybe he was, but if you can't identify the enemy, it's very hard to defeat him.

And therein lies a core aversion to truth that exemplified both George W. Bush and now Barack Obama (who, by the way, has adopted many of the tenets proposed by the past president immediately after 9-11). They both refused to name the enemy. We are dealing with Islamic terrorists, supported by a flow on hundreds of millions of dollars from Muslims in places like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Indonesia, and even the United States—money from "average Muslims" who are somehow drawn to the muscular image of al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezballah, al Nusra, or, now, ISIS.

Last night's address would have been the perfect time to enlist the billion or so other "average Muslims" to help us defeat this Islamist "cancer," as this president has put it. It would have been a time to suggest, ever so gently, that until Muslims act aggressively to rid themselves of this "cancer," we are all in trouble. The cancer will devour them (it's already doing exactly that).

It would have been acceptable to suggest that if Muslims cannot or will not combat the cancer, we will begin to look at them with justified concern, even suspicion. That their place in Western societies will be re-examined as the cancer grows, metasticizes and begins to kill the host. Saying that would have been bold, honest, and meaningful, but instead, what we heard was "ISIL is not Islamic."

In an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger writes:
Let us note briefly the commanding irony of Barack Obama delivering—hours before 9/11—the anti-terrorism speech that history required of his predecessor after September 11, 2001. There is one thing to say: If we are lucky, President Obama will hand off to his successor a terrorist enemy as diminished as the one George Bush, David Petraeus and many others left him.

If we're lucky.

There is a story about Mr. Obama relevant to the war, battle or whatever he declared Wednesday evening against the Islamic State, aka ISIS. It is found in his former campaign manager David Plouffe's account of the 2008 election, "The Audacity to Win."

Mr. Plouffe writes that during an earlier election race, Mr. Obama had a "hard time allowing his campaign staff to take more responsibility." To which Barack Obama answered: "I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I'll hire to do it." Audacity indeed.

In a 2008 New Yorker article by Ryan Lizza, Mr. Obama is quoted telling another aide: "I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors." Also, "I think I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters."

And here we are.
One can only wonder whether where we are today will be better or worse that where we'll be as we initiate Obama's new efforts to defeat the terror that he will not name.