Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Unclear On the Concept

President Obama spoke today on the war and the Islamist slaughter at Orlando. As I've always said, my sympathy for the tough job our president has always declines the more recently I hear him speak on any given subject.

I find it amazing that a president convinced he could responsibly end our wars yet finds that he will be the first president ever to be at war for two full terms now defends his conduct of the war on terror by citing his body count:

Obama: “If people seriously think we don’t know who we are fighting…if we’re confused about who our enemies are…that would come to the surprise of the thousands of terrorists we’ve taken off the battlefield.”

If war was a body count business, the president might have a point. But war is about defeating our enemies and driving them off the battlefields (including our nightclubs, these days) so they are either too dead or too discouraged to kill any more.

Or will the next argument in defense of the president's war policy be that since we are killing so many more of them than they kill of us that we are clearly winning the war?

The president has a point that just uttering the words "Islamist terrorist" or some variation doesn't mean we wage war effectively.

Yet even though President Bush downplayed that aspect with the "war on terror" theme, everyone knew what he meant and nobody doubted that he was fighting jihadi terrorists every day after 9/11.

I don't have confidence that our president today is dedicated to winning--regardless of the term for our enemies he uses--and a reliance on a body count to defend his policies is both revolting and wrong, and condemns us to an endless war of attrition where neither side poses an existential threat to the other.

Let's be an existential threat to Islamist jihadis and the ideology that enables these hateful and murderous scum.

UPDATE: On the terminology, our president said this:

What exactly would using this label ["radical Islamist"] accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans?

He has a point. I don't think presidential terminology is the problem. I don't believe you will find that I've emphasized terminology here. What I want is fighting like we are at war in order to win.

Yet in light of the increasing number of jihadi attacks we are seeing at home, I will ask the president and his defenders what exactly has not using the label "radical Islamist" accomplished? Has it changed the hate of radical Islamists? Has it made ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans?

Just wondering.

UPDATE: My partial defense of the president's point is based on the foreign policy issue. We do need to be careful about not implying that all Moslems are the problem since we need Moslems overseas to fight the jihadis in what is essentially a Moslem civil war to define Islam as either a Medieval religion of hate and contest or a modern religion that separates mosque and state and can tolerate differences (or something in between).

But there is one way that saying "radical Islamist" will help. And this is something I've written about now and then over the years.

By specifying "radical Islam" (or other terms like Islamo-fascist, jihadis, Islamists) rather than recoiling from admitting that some form of Islam is at fault for the murders that take place, we defend the integrity of the majority of Moslems who hate the radical Islamists (and are its victims) as much as Christians, Jews, Hindus, and gay people who are the usual victims here. Far more Moslem die at the hands of Islamists over there, after all.

Think about it. It is hard not to notice that the killers tend to have names like Mohammed and praise Allah while they kill. But if our leaders keep telling us that the attacks have nothing to do with Islam, people are going to believe their lying eyes rather than the soft words of leaders who want us to think it is workplace violence or a problem with America's values, or something.

Yet if the American people aren't being told by our so-called leaders and moral superiors that it is actually a violent and radical strain of Islam that is carrying out the violence, how will Americans fully understand that only a fraction of Moslems are guilty of this belief while the majority is the victim, just like we are?

But no, the administration is silent on naming our enemies out of fear that even bringing up the issue of Islam will turn our people into raging mobs hunting down innocent Moslems in our streets.

And the result of this official attitude is that it is too risky to point out the danger of an Islamist like Mateen before he strikes because of the risk of being labeled a bigot who hates Moslems. Better dead than rude, as some wag once put it.

For the Left, it is always the "backlash" they fear more, rather than the actual "lash."

I believe the official silence risks that backlash outcome more than accurately naming the narrow slice of Islam that we must fight, kill, and defeat. Americans can distinguish between enemies and neighbors. You don't need an advanced degree in nuance to understand that.

Pity our leaders don't act like they know the difference.

UPDATE: Strategypage has a timely post.

UPDATE: And not for the first time, it is painful to see how our president reserves real anger for his political opponents at home rather than our jihadi enemies--whether Iran's Shia variety or the Sunni variety like ISIL or al Qaeda--who seek to kill us.

You'd think President Obama would have incentive to go after jihadis when you consider how bitterly jihadis cling to their guns (and bombs) and god rather than accept the modern world (and remember that candidate Obama was speaking of Democratic primary voters).

UPDATE: And the Orlando attack is a reminder that our relative success in integrating Moslems compared to Europe is only a relative success. Suppressing radical Islam here will shield our Moslems from that horrible influence that plagues Moslems overseas so much.

UPDATE: Our president seriously seems to think that the alternative to not recognizing that radical Moslems are trying to kill us--as he does--is rounding up all Moslems and putting them in camps.

And I'm deficient in nuance?