Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Obama's Continued Denial About the War We're In

From, Marc Thiessen, at WaPo, "After Orlando, Obama continues to be in denial about terrorism":

After the Islamic State began releasing videos of American citizens being beheaded, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett reportedly told President Obama that Americans were worried that they would soon bring this violence here to the United States. Obama was unfazed.

“They’re not coming here to chop our heads off,” the president promised.

Now a terrorist pledging allegiance to the Islamic State has murdered 49 Americans in Orlando. What inspired him? CNN reports that “analysis of Mateen’s electronic devices showed searches for jihadist propaganda, including . . . ISIS beheading videos.”

Obama dismissed Omar Mateen as a “homegrown” terrorist who had announced his allegiance to the Islamic State “at the last minute” and declared that “there is no evidence so far that he was in fact directed by ISIL.” That distinction (if it turns out to be true) is irrelevant. Last month, the Islamic State commander responsible for external attack plotting, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, gave a speech calling on supporters to carry out killings in the United States during the holy month of Ramadan. “The smallest action you do in the heart of their land is dearer to us than the largest action by us, and more effective and more damaging to them,” he said.

Mateen answered al-Adnani’s call, Orlando is awash in blood, and the Islamic State claimed credit for the attack and declared Mateen “one of the soldiers of the caliphate.” He was an Islamic State terrorist. This was an Islamic State attack. And Obama’s stubborn refusal to see this is part of a larger pattern of downplaying or dismissing terrorist dangers. According to the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who spent hours interviewing Obama about his foreign policy doctrine, the president “has never believed that terrorism poses a threat to America commensurate with the fear it generates” and “frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents, and falls in bathtubs do.” That’s right, our commander in chief sees the mass shooting of 49 people in Orlando as akin to a slip in the tub.

In his 2016 State of the Union address, Obama blithely dismissed the Islamic State as “fighters on the back of pickup trucks” who he said, in typical strawman fashion, “do not threaten our national existence.” In a 2015 BBC interview, he said , “If you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100.” In other words, no big deal.

After his anti-Islamic State strategy came under withering criticism following the Brussels terror attacks in March, Obama said “my top priority is to defeat ISIL.” But he has admitted elsewhere that is untrue. Obama has openly declared that climate change is a much higher priority for him than terrorism because “ISIS is not an existential threat to the United States. Climate change is a potential existential threat to the entire world if we don’t do something about it.” Indeed, Goldberg writes, Obama “gets frustrated that terrorism keeps swamping his larger agenda” and “his advisers are fighting a constant rearguard action to keep Obama from placing terrorism in what he considers its ‘proper’ perspective, out of concern that he will seem insensitive to the fears of the American people.”

The “proper” perspective. No wonder the president keeps getting the terrorist threat wrong...