Left: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Barack Obama. (Photo: Cihan), Nov.13, 2015
The confusion in the President’s thinking and strategy about the current terrorist crisis is frightening in its implications.
As the tragic events in Paris confirm, surprise remains one of the most important aspects of warfare, in this instance by the Islamic terrorists of Daesh [ISIS or ISIL] against the U.S. and the West. Yet Obama persists in announcing publicly that under no circumstances will be commit significant ground forces again to the Middle East for his “destroy and degrade” campaign. It is irresponsible to reveal such an important aspect of strategy to your enemy who examines every public statement and private rumor to assess his actions.
Obama’s penchant for refusing to use “Islamic”, and condemning those who do as “trying to make terrorism a Muslim problem rather than a terrorist problem” is one of his greatest handicaps in his effort “to degrade and ultimately destroy” Daesh. Refusing to identify the enemy makes it all the harder to fight a foe which has an intellectual rationale as well as brute strength.
The fighters for Daesh are not recruited from Methodists or Vedantists but from Islam, and to the chagrin of most Muslims, it has its roots in Islamic scripture. To refuse to examine this aspect increases the difficulties in dealing with the terrorists. It also obscures the urgent necessity for Moslems to seek their own solutions to the threat in their midst. Once and for all, Muslims must come forward in the largest numbers with a determined leadership to end the long history of their religion being used for aggression.
Nor is it beneficial to the cause of victory to continue to insist that it will be a long struggle. That may be the case, but in repeatedly alluding to difficulty of making progress in destroying Daesh, he encourages the enemy and discourages a war-weary American public. His own claims of progress are ludicrous given the Paris events. Perhaps Daesh has had to relinquish territory, as Obama claims, but he ignores the growing allegiance of other terrorists in Central Africa, Indonesia and Libya to the Daesh “caliphate”. If nothing else, this acts as a recruiting tool for Dash’s forces in Syria and Iraq and will inevitably lead to more international coordination.
Perhaps most distressing of all in Obama’s remarks to the media in Turkey was his arrogance — or perhaps his defensiveness — in refusing to acknowledge his earlier public statement denying Daesh importance. No one expects a formal mea culpa, but to get on with what he describes as a “comprehensive campaign”, it is important to recognize and build on earlier mistakes. Obama compounds this with a snide campaign against his critics, and, worse, a refusal to consider their arguments. In a single sentence, he accepts that there must be “a serious debate”, but then refers to anyone who is critical as those who “pop off.”
In this regard, he relegates any discussion of the security issues of taking in an increasing number of refugees as ill-conceived and racist. Obama claimed that there must be a commitment, quite rightly, to America’s tradition of concern and hospitality, with “rigorous screening security checks”. But the director of the FBI and others have recently explained that given the difficulties of securing Syrian data any such intensive examination is near impossible. There is, after all, mounting evidence some of the participants in the Paris massacre came into Europe as a “refugees”. In fact, the Obama Administration has done little if anything to increase the size and scope of the bureaucracy which carries out surveillance.
None of this bodes well in the coming months for what looks to be a growing struggle with Moslem terrorism.