Back to Sun Tsu and The Art of War: Victory begins with a profound understanding of your adversary. With the Somali Islamists threatening to attack American shopping malls as they did in Nairobi last year, and the President refusing to utter the phrase "Islamic terrorism", it is no wonder that the portion of Americans who believe that we are winning this war is down to 15%.
This week's highlight, Rudy Giuliani's comments at a New York fundraiser for Scott Walker:
“I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that this President loves America. He doesn’t love you. He doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up to love this country.”
And Rudy's clarification:
“I don’t (see) this President as being particularly a product of African-American society or something like that. He isn’t. Logically, think about his background. . . The ideas that are troubling me and are leading to this come from communists with whom he associated when he was 9 years old” referring to close family friend Frank Marshall Davis, an outspoken communist. Add to that his Kenyan father and Indonesian step-father, Reverend Wright, Saul Alinsky, and Bill Ayers it is easy to see how the casual observer might come to that conclusion.
The usual suspects - CNN, the New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC - have gone crazy: obviously racist; a bitter old has-been; must be overtly rejected as a litmus test for any Republican presidential aspirant. Darrell Issa and Bobby Jindal have received a brief headline for supporting Rudy. Others have cautiously abstained.
But there really is something strange going on here - while reasonable people can disagree on how much socialism we should have, and his African-American constituency loves his and Eric Holder's anti-police rhetoric, Obama's handling of ISIS is a complete mystery. Consider:
- Only months before they took over a third of Syria and Iraq, President Obama - with all of the intelligence available to the Western world - called ISIS "the JayVees," continuing the narrative that the war on terror was in its final stages with the killing of Osama bin Laden.
- Obama insists on using the term ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) instead of ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which everyone else calls them.) Chuck Todd opines that calling them ISIS would require more definitive action in Syria. Whatever, now they have affiliates offering allegiance in Yemen, Libya, the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, and Afghanistan and they have taken to calling themselves the global Islamic State.
- In November former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, speaking for a large portion of the military leadership, noted that President Obama had provided a mission of "degrading and destroying" ISIS without providing the necessary authorizations. Obama has subsequently asked for Congressional approval for his six-month old program of air support, but no fundamental change to operations in Iraq or Syria in a proposal that the Washington Post called "weak and unnecessary."
- In what even leftist commentator Bill Maher calls "Orwellian" language, Obama refuses to acknowledge recent violence in Iraq, Syria, Paris, Amsterdam, Canada, and elsewhere as Islamist, but offers the myth that it is "violent extremism" unrelated to Islam, and attributes the problem to poverty and a lack of opportunity - ignoring the fact that many recruits are coming from the West.
- Needing to do something, Obama last week convened a conference in Washington to discuss "violent extremism", inviting law enforcement leaders from around the world including the top cop from Russia - but not the head of the FBI. In Obama's headline opinion, ISIL may be committing atrocities, but so did the Christian Crusaders.
The reality is that we have two problems to live with for the next two years.
1. Giuliani is correct that Obama really does have a different world view. Read his autobiography, Dreams from My Father; watch Dinesh D'Souza's documentary, America. Wealth should be spread around; American society is unequal and racist; third world countries still suffer from European, now American, imperialism. In 2008 and 2012 a majority of people voted for change, his background was available to those who looked, and elections have consequences.
2. Obama is an incompetent executive. There are times when this is bad - the decision to not leave a residual force in Iraq; the trade of five Taliban leaders for an Army deserter; the insistence on trying war criminals in civilian courts; a disinterest in negotiating budgets with Congress; the "open borders" immigration policy; the roll-out of ObamaCare. But it does seem that the national security establishment is now forcing some good decisions - the new Secretary of Defense apparently will be able to keep a small fighting force in Afghanistan well after the previous deadline and in a combat role; there will apparently be a few "boots on the ground" in Iraq - not as many as the Iranians, but at least a few.
Obama will play out his game before the responsible adults can restore common sense. Hopefully that won't mean Hillary who, equally detached from reality, doesn't think it matters whether folks attacking US diplomats are terrorists or "just a bunch of guys out for a walk."
There are two conflicting videos this week - Eric Clapper (the Director of National Intelligence) saying that 2014 was a record year for terrorist violence, and John Kerry (Secretary of State) saying that we are living in a period of reduced threats to Americans. Alice and the Looking Glass come to mind.
bill bowen - 2/27/15