Consider the source.
Here, the source is veteran New York Times columnist, Roger Cohen, not a hardened opponent of the Obama regime. So, it matters that Cohen denounces the Obama foreign policy toward Islamist terrorism. And does so in an excellent column, well worth a read.
And Cohen is not the only liberal Timesman who has taken this position. I have posted about the fine column Thomas Friedman wrote on this topic.
If Obama ever changes his policy, such critics will have been instrumental in persuading him to change his mind.
If Obama cannot respond to liberals who reject his policies, we are in a great deal of trouble.
We are, Cohen writes this morning, at war with Islam:
Across a wide swath of territory, in Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Yemen, the West has been or is at war, or near-war, with the Muslim world, in a failed bid to eradicate a metastasizing Islamist movement of murderous hatred toward Western civilization.
To call this movement, whose most potent recent manifestation is the Islamic State, a “dark ideology” is like calling Nazism a reaction to German humiliation in World War I: true but wholly inadequate. There is little point in Western politicians rehearsing lines about there being no battle between Islam and the West, when in all the above-mentioned countries tens of millions of Muslims, with much carnage as evidence, believe the contrary.
Cohen is especially clear-minded about the threat that Islam poses to core Western freedoms:
The Danish filmmaker Finn Norgaard was killed a little over a decade after another movie director, Theo van Gogh, was slain in Amsterdam for making a film critical of Islam’s treatment of women. The Islamists’ war is against freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, freedom of blasphemy, sexual freedom — in short, core characteristics of democracies seen by the would-be rebuilders of the Caliphate as signs of Western debasement.
Do not provoke them with cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, some say, show respect for Islam, the peaceful faith of some 1.6 billion people. But what, pray, was the “provocation” of Dan Uzan, the Jewish security guard outside the Copenhagen synagogue?
Islam is a religion that has spawned multifaceted political movements whose goal is power. Islam, as such, is fair game for commentators, caricaturists and cartoonists, whose inclination to mock the depredations of theocracy and political Islam’s cynical uses of the Prophet cannot be cowed by fear.
Over the more than 13 years since Al Qaeda attacked America on 9/11, we have seen trains blown up in Madrid, the Tube and a bus bombed in London, Western journalists beheaded, the staff of Charlie Hebdo slaughtered, Jews killed in France and Belgium and now Denmark. This is not the work of a “dark ideology” but of jihadi terror.
Cohen explains that there are two theories about who is to blame. He defines them:
Who or what is to blame? There are two schools. For the first, it is the West that is to blame through its support for Israel (seen as the latest iteration of Western imperialism in the Levant); its wars (Iraq); its brutality, (Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib); its killing of civilians (drones); its oil-driven hypocrisy (a jihadi-funding Saudi ally).
For the second, it is rather the abject failure of the Arab world, its blocked societies where dictators face off against political Islam, its repression, its feeble institutions, its sectarianism precluding the practice of participatory citizenship, its wild conspiracy theories, its inability to provide jobs or hope for its youth, that gives the Islamic State its appeal.
He opts for the second:
I find the second view more persuasive. The rise of the Islamic State, and Obama’s new war, are a direct result of the failure of the Arab Spring, which had seemed to offer a path out of the deadlocked, jihadi-spawning societies of the Arab world.
How much responsibility does the Obama administration and its crack foreign policy team bear? A great deal, Cohen writes:
But history, I suspect, will not judge Obama kindly for having failed to foster the great liberation movement that rose up in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and elsewhere. Inaction is also a policy: Nonintervention produced Syria today.
I believe that the Obama administration’s failures go far beyond his inaction and non-intervention. Our president takes pride in his ability to capitulate and walk away from wars.
One also notes this morning that the government of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has retaliated against the Libyan branch of ISIS for beheading nearly two dozen Coptic Christians.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
Egypt’s air force struck multiple Islamic State targets near the eastern coastal city of Derna in Libya on Monday morning following the release of a video that purportedly showed the decapitation of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians—a development that threatens to push Libya’s worsening internal conflict beyond the country’s borders.
A spokesman for Egypt’s military said Egyptian aircraft had targeted Islamic State training camps and weapons and ammunitions stores in a bombing raid around dawn. The planes returned to their bases in Egypt safely, the spokesman said in a post on his Facebook page.
Like Jordanian King Abdullah President el-Sisi understands the threat and understands how to react to it. He has also been fighting against the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in his country.
Aside from the fact that President Obama has inexplicably been siding with the Muslim Brotherhood, it is worth noting, as someone did on Twitter this morning, that while Obama denounces Christians as crusaders the president of Egypt punishes those who persecute them.
Next to such leaders President Obama looks increasingly weak and ineffectual.