There’s no better way to summarize president Obama’s approach to fighting the war against jihad than this: For the next three years, we’re betting our safety on the proposition that Islamic thugs and terrorists will prove to be more incompetent than the Obama administration. In the aftermath of the Times Square bombing attempt, is there another way to consider it? How many “isolated incidents” have to pile up before the president wakes up to the fact that there’s a pattern, one that just might have something to do with a particular fundamentalist religious outlook, and that the politically correct bunker mentality is not going to cut it?
Reluctantly, Attorney General Eric Holder has conceded that it might be a good idea to adjust, not totally eliminate mind you, the law with regards to reading a terror suspect their Miranda rights, provided that it can be done within constitutional bounds, of course. Holder’s tepid foray into the waters of treating enemy combatants like enemies was prompted by the increasing volume of criticism showered on the administration for advising Christmas bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad that they have the right to remain silent. Holder assures us that both Abdulmutallab and Shahzad talked anyway, and perhaps they have, but are we really supposed to believe that investigators got as much out of them as they would have had not these enemy combatants been treated to the courtesies of our legal system?
The idea that we should extend constitutional protections to enemy combatants, particularly when that enemy is not in uniform, is a concept that would have perplexed any other American president in history, with the possible exception of James Earl Carter. The famous example of FDR summarily executing six Nazi spies found on American soil during World War II is but one case that illustrates the way our commanders-in-chief have always dealt with spies and saboteurs – until now.
But then few past presidents would approve of the “cower behind the walls” strategy of fighting this war that Obama has adopted. In the aftermath of Times Square, with three enemy infiltrations onto American soil in the space of six months, Senate Homeland Security chair Joe Liebermann observed:
“We were lucky. We did not prevent the attempted attack. It’s hard to stop them every time, but that has to be our goal. … So I’d say in terms of prevention, the system failed.”
We were lucky. We will have to continue to be lucky, because when you choose to go on the defensive, luck is the only thing that keeps a shell from landing in the wrong place at the wrong time and these particular shells have two legs and access to a bag of tricks. The history of warfare shows that in the battle between artillery and fortifications, artillery always wins, eventually. You build a castle and somebody is going to invent a trebuchet big enough to batter down your walls. Build a fort and somebody’s going to come along with a bigger cannon. The Obama administration is counting on the massive security apparatus of the United States to create the modern-day equivalent of the Maginot line around the borders of America, manned by an army of bureaucrats.
It’s not going to work. It’s never worked. Philosophically, Bush made it clear that he would target the enemy where he lies, for as long as it took to win. On the other hand, Obama makes it increasingly obvious that he longs to disengage from the enemy, thus providing them a host of targets over here, for as long as “isolated incidents” continue to occur.
In a tough, cynical world, ruthless leaders can smell weakness and this president reeks of it. During the 2008 campaign, when conservatives were critical of Obama’s offer to sit down with our enemies, a re-occurring example of the kind of hopeful change we could expect in a post-American world, liberals roundly accused them of war-mongering. In fact, there’s no mongering involved, there’s just war, right on our doorstep.
There’s no better example of the scorn with which angry, murderous jihadists view this president than the words of the man whom Obama really wanted to sit down with and have a chat and whom has thus become the sterling symbol of Obama’s global naiveté. Speaking to thousands of his countrymen with respect to Obama’s feeble attempts to curb Iran’s nuclear program, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said:
“Mr. Obama, you are a newcomer to politics. Wait until your sweat dries and get some experience…. American officials bigger than you, more bullying than you, couldn’t do a damn thing, let alone you.”
George W. Bush may have been the devil to Ahmadinejad and his ilk, but one would be foolish indeed not to fear the devil. To the Iranian president and his partners in waging jihad, Obama is no more than an ineffectual, unimportant, low-grade, mildly demonic imp, far down on the west’s satanic organizational chart. For them, Obama is annoying at times, sure – but not really anything to worry about.
If nothing changes about the way this administration fights the jihadists, consider the following scenario. In 2012 America elects a new, tough-on-terror president, in part because everyone recognizes how ineffective Obama has been as commander in chief. Ahmadinejad, seeing the writing on the wall – that his nuclear ambitions will go up in smoke courtesy of the Israeli Defense Force once the new, pro-Israel guy is sworn in and having put together a couple of nuclear tipped missiles under the UN’s noses – decides that it’s use it or lose it time.
Far-fetched? Sure, especially when you know that Israel has the capability to retaliate in force. But impossible? Mixing religious fanatics with weak, appeasing leadership in the west makes for a very dangerous stew. Based on his performance as a war-time leader so far, it’s going to take a significant tragedy before this president decides to fight.