There’s a reason President Obama and his advisors don’t want to use the word “war” in describing what we are doing against ISIS. It’s that they really don’t believe they are at war. They really don’t get it.
The president seems to be thinking that he’s playing a game of “Risk” with his high school friends in Hawaii.
Obama this morning stepped to the rostrum of the United Nations at the very moment he has launched attacks against the foe of the civilized world – and even of the uncivilized portion too. You would think, naturally, that he would be rallying the troops, so to speak, since this is supposedly an international coalition. That he’d be sustaining morale by explaining the danger, issuing a call to arms, and assuring jittery allies that we won’t relent until the job is done.
But no, what we got was a lecture to the Mideast Muslim world about how they have to start behaving themselves in order to undermine the rationale for ISIS. They have to talk to each other, join hands, chant the Chimes of Freedom, and stop arguing about religious matters.
Stop arguing about religious matters? Sure.
Listen, this little talking to directed at Muslims is a good idea, and I give Obama credit for doing it. He seems to have shed a little political correctness and decided to ask, in effect, Where’s the outrage among Muslims about Islamism and why are you funding it?
This was a good line, directed in particular at the Saudis:
It is time for a new compact among the civilized peoples of this world to eradicate war at its most fundamental source: the corruption of young minds by violent ideology.
That means cutting off the funding that fuels this hate. It’s time to end the hypocrisy of those who accumulate wealth through the global economy, and then siphon funds to those who teach children to tear it down.
But the president is naive and ultimately laden with hubris. The tyrants, Islamists, and self-servers who run the Middle East are not going to change their ways just because Barack Obama says so.
No one’s going to reform themselves unless the alternative looks too unattractive. That is, unless extremism is met with violence and defeat.
Ronald Reagan didn’t start negotiating with the Soviets until he had made it very clear to them that we would oppose them and seek to destroy their ideology, whether by arming Afghan rebels or promoting missile defense.
What Muslim leaders and societies might do, rather than suddenly start powwowing it up over hookahs, is join us in a shared fight for against ISIS, which for them is an important battle to wage.
And for this, Obama would have had to stir their imaginations with visions of conquest against our shared enemy while making it clear he’s enthusiastic about the task and isn’t going to extract himself at the first sign of bad news.
But no. Opportunity squandered.
The way to defeat Islamist extremism is to defeat it. We can talk about community organizing in Riyadh later.