America has been under threat from terrorism during President Obama’s entire presidency, though you would hardly know it.
For most of his first term, there hadn’t been major attacks, and the president had been studiously downplaying the threat, while trumpeting the “gutsy move” of killing Bin Laden. He decided that we were not in a “war” against terrorism. During the campaign, we were told that “al Qaeda is on the path to defeat.”
Obama failed to even mention terrorism during his Inaugural Address. Meanwhile, we were assured, remote controlled model airplanes were decimating the ranks al Qaeda’s leadership.
These attacks, as awful as they were, are nothing compared to what can happen if the bad guys really get lucky. And with the success rate growing, our enemies will be more willing to roll the dice.
I’m not saying I know that Obama’s approach is to blame for either of these attacks. I know he wants to defend the country and believes he is doing the right things, the things that need to be done to prevent terrorism.
But while the drone operation has killed a lot of terrorists, we have taken steps that reduce our ability to understand what the terrorist are up to.
We are heading out of Afghanistan without completing the job. We have withdrawn too fully from Iraq. We have toned down out treatment of prisoners who could give us valuable information and told them they’d be receiving no worse treatment than they can read about in the Army Field Manual.
In places like Syria, Libya and Egypt, we’ve done too little prevent – and we’ve even abetted – the growing influence of Islamists. We show weakness to our enemies by expressing eternal faith in negotiations and failing to confront more directly the menace of Iran.
Obama needs to remind the country more often that we remain in a potentially existential struggle with an enemy that is still capable of striking us hard. He needs to prepare the nation, and he needs to act like terrorism is the central focus of his presidency. Everyone tasked to prevent terrorism is trying to do their job and I’m sure doing it well. But when it sees the president if fully and publicly focused, the rest of the government takes its game up a notch.
Universal early childhood education, nice as that sounds, can wait, please.