Holding a press conference in the Philippines Wednesday morning, President Obama immediately stepped into the role he plays best: divider-in-chief. For the second time in three days, instead of trying to calm an American populace justifiably concerned that terrorists will strike here next, while on foreign soil this president took the opportunity to rebuke the people with whom he disagrees.
On Monday his primary target had been the press, but on this occasion it was the GOP. He said: “I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than some of the rhetoric coming out of here in the course of this debate, it’s counterproductive and it needs to stop.”
Actually there is no more potent recruitment tool for ISIL than Obama himself. Terrorists are like bullies; the only way to stop them is to confront them. With his tepid message to terrorists, Obama allows them to appear stronger and more successful to potential recruits. As Osama bin Laden said in December of 2011, ”When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.” Under the Obama presidency, the United States has looked like the weak horse. America has the best military in the world, but Obama’s half-measures and restrictive rules of engagement have made the U.S. look weak.
And ISIS is watching us very closely. The group watched when Obama cut and ran from Iraq, snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. They watched when he set a red line in Syria, then backed away when the line was crossed. They have watched for years as Obama repeatedly scolded Israeli actions while condoning Palestinian terror. More recently, they saw how Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry capitulated to every demand that Iran had in the nuclear talks.
I’m confident that ISIS was listening intently on Tuesday when Kerry gave them a pass on last January’s attack on Charlie Hebdo:
In the last days, obviously, that has been particularly put to the test. There’s something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of – not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, okay, they’re really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn’t to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong.
Kerry’s need to self-edit as he spoke suggests that even he, for a change, had some sense of how wrongheaded and appalling his words were. ISIS, no doubt, heard them as what they were: A green light for future atrocities that would include, given the chance, detaching Kerry’s head from his neck.
ISIS was likely listening — and laughing — when Obama said hours before their attack on Paris that “ISIL was contained.”
They see a president so clueless about the threat they pose that he is willing relocate relocate 10,000 Syrians into the U.S., despite ISIS’s promise that jihadists would be among the refugees.
ISIS sees promise in Obama’s empty rhetoric. According to him, if we crushed ISIS, another extremist group would just take its place. But ISIS has no need to worry about being crushed or what group would fill the void if they were eliminated. As long as Obama is sheriff, they can continue to bring the war to him — and us. No one is going to lift a finger against them.
Cross-posted in altered form at The Lid