Misunderestimating Terrorists

By: Eddie Clements

Al-Qaeda has a new recruiting tool: the weakness of our president. He does not seem to realize his dithering on decisions and dalliances in legal experiments convey an image to enemies bent on our destruction of a leader lacking resolve. To Americans he appears inadequate to the job of president.

Americans know that terrorism emanating from self-described enemies of the US impacts few individuals. Many thousands each year die from automobile accidents, but there is no war on driving. The chances of actually being injured or killed from a terrorist attack are slim to none, even among air travelers.

But statistics provide little comfort to airline passengers facing the knowledge that he or she could be the next victim, without warning. After a successful attack, images flashing around the world showing nothing left but shards of wreckage of what moments before had been a mighty symbol of western progress filled with people, evoke strong emotions. These attempts create a psychological impact that shakes our way of life to the core, an outcome nearly as effective as a successful IED. Anything could be the next target, and that’s the rub of terrorism: the unexpected and unknowable, creating free-floating apprehension – the definition of paranoia.

One can only imagine the horror felt by Flight 253 passengers realizing their imminent death was thwarted only by luck and the bravery of a few fellow passengers. They and their countrymen need reassurance, which is the job of the president. He must reduce the possibilities of attack, but also use the office to calm a disquieted citizenry.

Three days after the attack the president breaks from his Christmas vacation in idyllic Hawaii long enough to offer a law-enforcement-like briefing on the matter. At least his Spock-ish demeanor describing a near-fatal attack against his fellow citizens, unarmed non-combatants, was an improvement over the shout-out given attendees at his talk interrupted by the dispassionate description of the Ft. Hood massacre November 5, 2009. His attitude suggested inconvenience, like he was forced to say SOMETHING.

Obama’s coolness surrounding matters of state so celebrated by media as intelligent grasp of the issues does not translate to empathy when needed most. When Bill Clinton famously said “I feel your pain” over a different issue, it sounded like cynical, politically-inspired drivel and was rightly derided as such. But those receiving the remarks accepted them as heartfelt. Clinton has the instincts to know when something needs to be said, a lesson Obama has yet to learn and whose extreme narcissism may render him incapable of mastering.

On Obama’s watch there have been more successful terrorist attacks within one year than the seven remaining years of the Bush presidency. Obama likes to cite successes as his own doing, while blaming his predecessor for any failures. The tactic has worn thin and now rings hollow. Most of us know sitting around trying to figure out “why they hate us” doesn’t necessarily get us down the road. But have the solutions proposed by the left, including those implemented by the current administration, borne any fruit? The evidence indicates policies of the administration – indeed, of the whole left – do not reflect serious thinking about Islamo-fascist aggression.

Barack Obama’s personal history as a community organizer, associations with persons of radical leftist beliefs and “intellectual” educational pursuit suggest battlefield tactics are not his method of choice to achieve policy goals. Occasional drone strikes killing this sheik or that field general have not altered Al-Qaeda’s tactics or initiatives.

The president surely came to office with his own notions about how to put his own stamp on foreign policy, now reflected by known changes in approach. For example, there is closing Guantanamo, declaring an end to “torture”, the Cairo speech touting Muslim “achievements”, bowing to the Saudi king, willingness to meet Mideast leaders, and downplaying Israel as a US partner. Also, there is the pretense of “fair” trials for KSM and others, refusal to link the words “Islam” and “terrorism”, and determination to make “Al-Qaeda” the object of our military activities and downplay that entity’s link to Islam. He probably hoped that by this time, Islamist radicals would have perceived him as a kind of leader they could depend on to bring about changes which would ameliorate their concerns.

While I can’t pretend to have expertise on foreign policy, this particular issue of terrorism ain’t exactly nuanced multilateralism. Osama Bin-Laden issued a fatwa in 1998 saying Americans must be killed because of their “crimes” against some Middle East nations and Islam in general. No distinction is made between soldiers and civilians, men or women. It seems a good constitutional lawyer would look for ways to knock down these reasons, removing the fatwa’s premise and make it unnecessary. Perhaps Obama has seen it, and the administration has aimed its moves at that end.

My intuitive feel for what a “holy man” might be could apply to a Christian. But the term “sheik” is outside my experience, and the evidence suggests Obama doesn’t have any better idea about it than I do. I say that because the sheik, Bin-Laden, said “kill Americans” and it was made to happen. Al-Qaeda and its main leader announced and acted on their agenda: our demise.
Obama may have thought he knew how to stop it, but it’s not working out. Our president hesitates where their leaders act. They see Obama as a man who refuses to order his soldiers to fight. Islam sees neither the rule of secular law nor prosecution of our own soldiers as strength; both are seen as weaknesses to be exploited. Obviously, Obama doesn’t get the religious duty, misguided as it is, felt by the sheik’s followers. If he did, he would not treat this as a law enforcement problem, but as President George W. Bush did: identify the locations of the enemy, seek them out and kill them. Only way to stop them from killing us.

But Bush has been the subject of Obama’s Pecksniffian scorn since he was a senator, which has continued into his presidency. Obama has set himself on a course from which he cannot deviate. To admit Bush was right about terrorism, a term Obama once eschewed but has used freely since the Christmas incident, lays open the possibility Bush is not the blundering incompetent he was portrayed as.

If Bush was right about terrorism, he may not have been wrong in other policies. And if that were true, the rationale for the massive transformation to which Americans must submit disappears, as does Obama’s underlying basis for his initiatives to end terrorist aggression. This is likely the reason lame-stream media is attacking Bush as the culprit for the supposed inadequacies of the terror-prevention apparatus which failed in the Christmas bombing attempt.

But “the system” didn’t fail – it is made up of people; people failed. They are now Obama’s people. The press knows that, and is protecting “our young president.”

Is the attack Obama’s fault? Not in the mechanics. The flight’s origin was Amsterdam, where fastidious political correctness caused failure to question a young man with no luggage paying cash for an immediate one-way ticket on a US-bound flight. Only one thing had to go wrong for the plot to go right; our bureaucracy made other mistakes. The president can fire underlings, and might should for appearance sake. But Obama failed to do something George Bush did very well – be the tough sheriff who inspires his men to be alert for this very type of threat from bloodthirsty beheaders.

Replacements won’t do a better job; the problem is Obama and his approach to terrorism – and everything else. He failed to inspire prevention of attack; he cannot comfort victims of an attempt afterward; he fails to convey confidence that future attacks will be stopped; he puts political correctness ahead of effectiveness; he has not displayed any willingness to defeat the enemy with finality.

“Our young president” has conveyed the notion that the US is just one among many nations, that we are ordinary and not exceptional, and we should accept blame for many mistakes. None of this inspires, reassures, or promotes direction and purpose. It projects weakness of irresolution, mis-ordering of priorities and diverted attention. Defeating enemies requires focus and strength of conviction – the hallmark of the dedicated Islamo-fascist.

Bush had his faults, but he never misunderestimated the terrorists, lost his focus, failed to offer heartfelt sympathy, depressed us with scolding or lacked confidence in America.

Obama will never succeed in this undertaking – that’s not who he is. He’s a didactic serving as community organizer-in-chief. He thinks appointing the transgendered Amanda Simpson to a job in the Commerce Department will impress a culture of men that stone homosexuals on discovery – and commit murder on command of the sheik.

Eddie Clements

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