Administration spokespeople are hunkered down trying to figure out new ways of saying that Islamist terrorism is not Islamist.
The same administration cannot bring itself to say that the Egyptian men who were beheaded by ISIS in Libya were Christians. And it refused to say that the victims of the terrorist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris were Jewish.
If it only wanted to censor all negative remarks about Islam, that would be one thing. But, refusing to identify the victims of Islamist violence by their religious affiliation suggests that the administration cannot see the war for what it is.
In all fairness, one should not blame the confusion and the difficulty on state department spokeswomen Jen Psaki and Marie Harf. True, they have been sounding especially foolish of late, and this has caused a certain amount of piling on.
The truth is, they are not offering their own views. They are defending a policy that is frankly absurd, even indefensible. For my part I believe that their failures to articulate the policy clearly is a sign of intelligence. Only an imbecile would really believe that the Obama administration even has a policy in this area.
Admittedly, Marie Harf outdid herself when she claimed that you cannot kill your way to victory in a war. After all, what did she think war was about?
And she outdid herself again when she said that we can win wars by having a jobs creation program. More socialism, please.
Doesn’t Harf know that the aspiring European jihadis who are decamping for the Middle East live in countries that have numerous jobs programs, to say nothing of cradle to grave security?
The fact is, Psaki and Harf are doing an impossible job. Whatever nonsense Marie Harf said on television, other administration flacks said the same thing the next day.
The ladies were not speaking for themselves, so, let’s cut them some slack.
Nevertheless, when the administration refused to identify the Egyptian Christians who had been beheaded in Libya as Christians Chris Matthews went into a temperate rage.
When you’ve lost Chris Matthews….
For the MSNBC host it was one cowardly act too many. The liberal commentator, a man who has often defended the Obama administration and often criticized the Bush administration for its wars, has had enough.
Monday evening Matthews said this about the latest ISIS atrocity:
Can we do nothing? Can we just look at the pictures, ask what’s for supper? What’s on TV tonight? What’s the weather like tomorrow morning? And go on with our lives warding off the knowledge that these people are being killed in demonstration against us?
I know, we all know we need a plan. We need a route that takes us to a destroyed ISIS, because the alternative is too sick, too un-American, too un-human. We can’t see people killed like this in our face and simply flip to the sports page or the financial news or what’s at the movies or who’s going to win the Oscars and act like America, our country, is not being morally humiliated.
Because it is, with the lives of at least some of these people, who must, in their last minutes, have to be wondering if there’s any chance the people in the United States could be coming to their rescue. Because that’s how we were taught that we conduct ourselves. We don’t leave people behind.
Matthews was making a very important point.
There are many reasons why ISIS is broadcasting its brutality. Surely, it wishes to stigmatize Islam in Western eyes.
But as Matthews notes, thanks to the Obama administration’s handling of the situation, America is being “morally humiliated.”
ISIS terrorists have taken the full measure of Barack Obama and decided that he can be morally humiliated with impunity. Thus, they can elevate themselves in the estimation of many people around the world by showing that they are, in some sense, stronger than weak and decadent America.
ISIS is not going to invade America tomorrow. It is not, as Obama suggests, an existential threat.
And yet, it is severely damaging America’s national pride, and that is assuredly a threat to America.
One notes, with some chagrin, that ISIS is not alone in working to exalt itself at the expense of American pride. Isn’t Vladimir Putin doing the same in the Ukraine, and isn’t his approval rating very, very high.
When ISIS kills their citizens, other leaders react with rage. Obama, however, remains calm and detached.
While the king of Jordan flies in a bombing mission against an ISIS stronghold, Obama prefers to play golf. Not that he has to fly the planes himself, but Obama should strongly condemn groups that behead Americans and make a show of extreme force.
It’s not about being cool and above it all. If a situation requires anger and fortitude and you cannot muster it, the world will see you as weak and ineffectual, lacking in pride.
It’s not that Obama is too smart to fight. He is too weak to assert himself and to assert the honor and pride of the United States. National pride matters. The national mood has a definite influence on your mood.
Like it or not, the mood is set at the top. If the nation’s leader does not feel pride in his country, others will feel their own pride draining out of them. For that they will justly be angry.
ISIS wants to show that Americans are decadent, and do not have the stomach for the fight. After all, Americans elected Barack Obama.
Under Obama, Matthews says, we now leave people behind… unless, of course they are deserters. In that case we trade them for Taliban commanders.
Matthews might be a bit late to the party, but he deserves considerable credit for seeing clearly what is happening on the world stage.