Democrats always seem to be better at Public Relations than are Republicans. When faced with an indefensible position, they change the subject.
Here we have a totally discredited Middle East strategy in which Hillary Clinton is inextricably complicit, particularly in Libya, but also in its grand design. We have a narcissist president who cannot admit, probably even to himself, that his policies have encouraged, then abandoned a revolution resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of migrants overwhelming neighboring countries and threatening to overwhelm Europe. We have his Secretary of State running for president, caught between the public's repudiation of the president's foreign policies and her need to demonstrate enough loyalty to retain the support of Obama loyalists. So, what is the focus of discussion? Refugees - a difficult subject which will divide people of good will across the political spectrum and which will likely look different once the emotional reaction to the Paris attacks has had a chance to calm down.
Let's restore the proper focus.
First on the Obama strategy, something that could only come from somebody with a totally non-American world view. Perhaps the son of a disgruntled Kenyan anti-British imperialism father; perhaps a childhood companion of a proud communist party member; perhaps a twenty-year parishioner of a "God Damn America" preacher; perhaps a colleague of a Weather Underground police killer. Who could possibly have seen this coming?
The most recent things that should be getting the headlines:
- Calling ISIS "contained" - just before the Paris attack, but shortly after deadly ISIS attacks in Beirut, Turkey, and the Russian airliner in Egypt indicated a shift in ISIS strategy to attacks beyond their core "caliphate". A year ago al Queda was focused on attacking the West while ISIS was concentrating on building their proto-state in Iraq and Syria. No more. ISIS now has affiliates in Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt, Yemen, Bengladesh, ... No credibility remains for Obama - the Junior Varsity claim of 2014; the Red Line threat of 2013; and now the "contained" claim of 2015. We all suffer when the president of the United States is delusional.
- The refusal to reconsider strategy in the face of obvious failure. ISIS cannot be allowed a sanctuary; air power without ground forces cannot succeed; our NATO allies will not contribute troops if we do not; we cannot out of hand reject French President Hollande's proposal of an alliance with Russia; we must provide a safe haven within Syria for dissidents; perhaps the stability of Assad in much of Syria should be accepted. Instead, we get a promise to stay the course on the existing strategy, including the release of more jihadist leaders held at Guantanamo.
- There is a real threat to Judeo-Christian western civilization if the Middle East cannot be stabilized and most of the latest influx of refugees returned home. The president of France declares that we are at war. The leader of the Free World and the Democratic presidential candidates will not utter the phrase "violent Islamic extremism".
It has been much too easy for the president to divert attention by ringing the bell on refugees. Obama announces that we will take 10,000; almost all of the Republican governors announce that their states will not take any; presidential candidates run to exclude Syrian Muslims; the House passes legislation to stiffen vetting requirements. The airwaves are filled with stories about the limits of governors' authority, the anti-American nature of religious tests, the commitment of the administration to do thorough vetting; the racial and religious insensitivity of Republicans; and on and on.
So, what are some simple refugee proposals that could let attention shift back where it belongs?
- Nothing is certain, but allowing 10,000 new refugees over a period of two years can be very low risk. There are millions to choose from. Even President Hollande of France has agreed to take 30,000.
- The vetting discussion is backwards, assuming that someone shows up on our doorstep and we need to figure out who he is. The better thought is to figure out who we want and to go get them. The criteria?
1. Those who have known sponsors here;
2. Those who have been outwardly aligned with us in their home countries - like the translators in Iraq who were subsequently abandoned, or the families of the New Syrian Army fighters who we have recruited;
3. Those who face annihilation at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists - Christians; Yazidis.
There is also the important consideration of what is in our self interest. We are already a country with large numbers of Muslim immigrants from areas of conflict - Bosnia; Yemen; Somalia; Iraq; Afghanistan; Libya. We are also open, without visa requirements, to people with passports from the European Union and other places where Islamic terrorists reside. Our southern border remains open to anyone seriously interested in sneaking in. What is needed is a positive relation between the American Muslim community and law enforcement. As we renew the debate about electronic surveillance, we also need to bolster the FBI's capability to gather intelligence the old fashioned way - better that it be with friends who we have brought here than with a dissociated immigrant community which has been rejected.
This week's video is President Obama's post-Paris speech in which he declares "we have the right strategy and we are going to see it through".
bill bowen - 11/20/15.