Monday, February 16, 2015

Obama Loses Roger Cohen

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.


Ares Olympus said...

re: 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.

I guess we'll see whether history pains Obama kindly or not for his pride in walking away from wars.

I suppose given a 800 billion dollar military budget, merely held steady after doubling from 400 billion between 2001-2010, shows some sort of "prideful restraint", or maybe we're just wasting all that money without actually doing much more than drone attacks?

Anyway, is Roger Cohen really a liberal? It seems like its only the Neocons who push for military solutions to political problems.

I wish I knew what was the best solution to violence and ideological hatred. Calling it out seems a minimum sensible plan, and maybe "dark ideology" is a weak assessment.

I guess 2016 will be the year America decides whether interventionism of the Bush years or the Drones and withdrawal of the Obama years are what we most stand for. I don't have any idea.

Myself, I'm still uncomfortable with declaring war on nouns. It seems to me that people who use brutality to gain and hold power eventually lose, but its not clear how that happens.

And if a major portion of Islam is on a death march to destruction, is that destruction speed up by active resistance, or by just getting out of the way?

Nuclear weapons aside, I don't find ISIS or the related groups as being serious threats to U.S. security.

It seems like at some level we just have to accept mass killings and terrorism as a "cost" to "freedom", that is to say, the more we do to protect ourselves from the small stuff by making life more miserable for ordinary citizens, the more the terrorists will have won.

Somehow things have to be kept in proportion. If the NRA is okay, with 30,000 gun deaths per year to keep our constitutional freedoms, then I guess we have to be okay with this.

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. I was curious about the claim I quoted of 30,000 gun deaths per year, I looked more, and found half are sucicides.

So we have our own "death march to destruction" without any help by the terrorists.

Although I bet a fair proportion of the suicides are exsoldiers with PTSD, and the like, for our past wars. People who are good at killing may not be so good at living when the dangers end.

It is certainly hard for me to be a brave chickenhawk, knowing how plush my life has been. What sort of "conscription" should we demand of our citizens to compensate those who fight and kill in our name?

n.n said...

In 2013, the total murders committed using firearms was under 9000.


In 2011, the total abortions committed in reporting clinics was over 700,000.

Abortion Surveillance

The abortion industry (Planned Parenthood et al), pro-choice or selective policy, Democrat Party, and not a few Republicans, and women seeking wealth, pleasure, and leisure, are the cause of an unprecedented debasement of human life.

The exclusive right for women to commit premeditated murder under protection of the First Amendment, or a sincerely held faith (e.g. spontaneous conception, variable value of human life) has been an unmitigated disaster and cause of cultural and religious (i.e. moral) corruption.

Oh, well. Pass the opiates. This is, apparently, what a majority of voters want. The official policy is: Displace, Replace, Abort, and Tax. Perhaps this is why marijuana and other psychoactive drugs are in demand. The cognitive dissonance must be deafening.

Ares Olympus said...

n.n, We could classify firearm deaths by many ways: (1) Terroristic victims (2) Soldiers and law enforcement (3) Civilian homicides (4) Killings justfied by self-protection (5) accidental deaths of self or other (6) intentional suicides. (7) Aborted? (8) Shot dead for being being black and scary?

Maybe someone can collect the data for each? Here's totals for 2013: All firearm deaths •Number of deaths: 33,363

American can't be #1 in all categories, but we're probably pretty high in many of them.

Anyway we can play numbers and compare to 9/11, with something like 3000 killed, and $10 billion in damage.

Maybe the terrorists are just not trying hard enough?

But in reaction to their boxcutter gambit, estimates of the total cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan might come to $4-$6 trillion dollars after all the costs are done, or about $18,000 per man woman and child in the U.S.

I'd really be happier to support war if we really taxed ourselves sufficiently to pay for it, but then you get into the whole problem that the government wastes money, so we can't let rich people pay any more taxes to such a wasteful government, so we'll let our grand kids pay instead, or those who haven't been aborted, right?

Sam L. said...

" 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."

He CAN, but I'm pretty sure he WON'T, with the exception of the possibility of supercilious put-downs.

How will history judge Obama? If the NYT writes it, it's all BUSH!!!!111!!!!!'s fault. After all, what's the party line on
Viet Nam?

P. Phillips said...

Ares Olympus

Do us all a big favour and go start your own blog.

n.n said...

Ares Olympus:

The issue is not firearms, drug overdose, or scalpels for that matter. The means is less interesting than the outcome. The issue is murder. Specifically murder of others without cause or due process. The FBI statistics count murders committed by government agents, criminals, and others. The CDC statistic counts all instances of accidental and premeditated deaths. The issue is not firearms, unless you intend to charge the gun with criminal conspiracy, but the motives of human beings.

Why do you question abortion? It is self-evident, and scientifically established that human life evolves from conception (i.e. fertilization of the egg by a sperm) to a natural, accidental, or premeditated death. The leading cause of childhood mortality (over one million annually) in America is premeditated murder for causes of wealth, pleasure, and leisure. It is rationalized by a fairytale: spontaneous conception, or a religious tenet: pro-choice or selective morality.

The war in Afghanistan was an act of self-defense. The war in Iraq was in response to a continued violation of the cease-fire. The expanded wars are due to political opportunism, including illogical rules of engagement, premature evacuation, undeclared regime changes, proliferation of weapons, etc.

The sole purpose and intent of abortion is to commit collateral damage. That is premeditated murder of wholly innocent human lives. This is unlike another human action that results in human death.

Where did I state that I support foreign or domestic wars? As for debt, the progressive debt from social programs, including medical care, is the greater concern. A multi-trillion welfare economy that leaves Americans indigent, homeless, and even unidentifed. And that's after abort around one million Americans annually for causes of wealth, pleasure, and leisure.

Anyway, the human and wealth costs of war are significant. The human costs of normalized abortion are unprecedented, including corruption of science and religion (or moral philosophy), and the loss of life.