Remember when George W. Bush denounced what he called “the axis of evil?”
His critics lampooned him mercilessly for being a fundamentalist fool.
Remember when Ronald Reagan pronounced the Soviet Union to be an “evil empire?”
His detractors denounced him mercilessly for being a Hollywood buffoon.
Today, the sophisticated thinkers who are running America’s foreign policy into the ground have been telling us that ISIS is a piddling threat, not something to get all lathered up about. They seem to believe that terrorist attacks cannot possibly come here and that the refugee crisis engulfing Europe is not really a problem.
Serious intellectuals, the sort that run Time Magazine, have made the authoress of the European refugee problem, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, their Person of the Year. And the dimwitted Canadian Prime Minister is welcoming Syrian refugees with open arms. O, Canada!
Last weekend I posted about a New York psychiatrist who suggested that President Obama should become Therapist in Chief. Clearly, Commander in Chief is beyond his capacity, so maybe he would be more comfortable handing out psychological nostrums.
Among the problems with the idea was this: President Obama has been acting as Therapist in Chief. That is why the American people are bracing themselves for another terrorist attack.
Oh well, you can’t be right all the time.
Anyway, the distinguished psychiatrist suggested that anyone who is afraid of ISIS is out of touch with reality, because reality tells us that ISIS is not an existential threat to America or to Western civilization. How does he know this? Well, Joe Biden said so. What more do you want?
Besides, the New York Times has already explained that the greatest threat that the nation faces is the NRA. Doesn't the New York Times only print the truth?
All of this being the case one is cheered to see a New York Times columnist, one Roger Cohen, who is more liberal than conservative, take the full measure of the threat ISIS poses and pronounce it to be EVIL. That’s right EVIL, as in axis of evil, and as in evil empire.
Obviously, no one is going to say that Roger Cohen is a buffoon. Instead the cognoscenti and the illiterati will ignore his column. All the more reason to post about it.
Cohen finds it passing strange that the Obama administration has based its policy on the notion that we must not give ISIS what it wants… namely for us to attack them militarily and to raze their cities. Obama has reasoned that since ISIS wants us to attack them, we shouldn’t. It is astonishingly ridiculous. I called it out several days ago.
Today, we give Cohen his say:
A whole relativist school has emerged that’s inclined to belittle the militants as a small Internet-savvy bunch of thugs, a “JV team,” as President Obama once called them, whose importance we only magnify if we confront them with the means they themselves use against the West — all-out war, that is.
For this school of thought, massive retaliation is precisely what the jihadis want; it will drive recruitment. Better to exercise the Obama doctrine of restraint. After the Paris killings, Vice President Joe Biden declared: “I say to the American people: There is no existential threat to the United States. Nothing ISIS can do could bring down the government, could threaten the way we live.”
For those who believe that Joe Biden’s musings light the path to reality, Cohen offers a quick rejoinder:
Nothing? Try saying that to the people of Brussels, in near lockdown for several days after the Paris attacks. Or the people of San Bernardino, where one perpetrator of the mass shooting, Tashfeen Malik, had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
The central question looming over the coming year is whether or not Islamic State is an existential threat to Western societies, and by extension whether or not it can be allowed a continued hold on the territory it uses to marshal that threat.
Like Peter Quinn and many of the rest of us, Cohen understands that as long as ISIS is allowed to hold territory it will threaten Western civilization. One notes, in passing, that George W. Bush’s policy was to attack both terrorists and the nations that harbor them.
In Cohen’s words:
Today, Islamic State’s capital of Raqqa, much closer to Europe than the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, is tolerated as a terrorist haven, whereas Al Qaeda’s Afghan sanctuary was shut down by military force after the attacks on New York and Washington. It is as if the metastasizing jihadi ideology of which Islamic State is the latest and most potent manifestation has sapped the West’s will.
I do not see how the Islamic State can be seen as anything other than an existential threat to Western societies. It stands for the destruction of all the Western freedoms — from the ballot box to the bed — that grew out of the Enlightenment and the rejection of religion as the ordering reference of society. It would take humanity back to the Middle Ages and target every apostate for destruction.
The more unassimilated Muslims there are in the West, the more ISIS is allowed to hold territory, the more ISIS will be able to find recruits. And that is not even the worst. If ISIS holds land and revenue, it might well amass weapons of mass destruction.
Remember when George W. Bush was excoriated for mistakenly believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Let’s keep in mind, the terrorist government of Iran is testing intercontinental missiles, and is hard at work developing the nuclear weapons. We must also keep mind that the Obama administration has kindly granted it the permission to do so.
ISIS or Iran… pick your poison.
In the meantime, Cohen challenges the relativist school that is running Obama administration policy:
The wait-them-out, relativist school has at the very least to clarify why it is confident that the militants will not use the land they hold and the oil revenues they amass to develop weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons, or to launch a devastating cyber-attack on the West. It needs to explain why it believes time is on our side.
Finally, he concludes that if we do not face and defeat evil, we will see it propagate:
For evil, unmet, propagates. To allow Islamic State to consolidate its hold over territory and minds over the coming year is to invite, or at least to accept, an inevitable replay of the Paris or the San Barnardino slaughters. It is to accept that the Syrian debacle will worsen for another year. And that, in turn, will further exacerbate the anxiety and fears on which nationalist, often Islamophobic politicians in Europe and the United States thrive.