We just observed the anniversary of the most lethal Islamic terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil. Thirteen years later, we still face al Qaeda, as well as various other Islamic terrorist groups including the equally lethal Islamic State.
This week, President Obama outlined his approach, such as it is, for dealing with the threat from the Islamic State. After the group’s conquest of wide swaths of Iraq and Syria and certainly after its beheading of two Americans, many folks puzzled over Mr. Obama’s constant attempts to minimize if not completely ignore the growing menace. Even following this week’s speech, many were left wondering why he hasn’t done more — and sooner.
A stroll down memory lane may prove instructive.
On Sept. 19, 2001 — eight days after the attack — a dark cloud of grief still hung over the nation. We remained paralyzed by its surreal terror, the nature of its execution and the growing awareness that our reality was now far more dangerous and uncertain. Fear, anger, dread and mourning gripped the nation, but so did a sense of pride in the heroism shown by so many and a deep-seated faith that America would smash the enemy and emerge stronger.
On that day, an unknown and undistinguished state senator from Illinois published an article in a nondescript Chicago-area publication, The Hyde Park Herald. He began his piece with a call for heightened airport security, more effective intelligence operations and a “dismantling” of the organizations established by the “perpetrators.”
Then he let loose with his deeply-rooted leftist philosophy:
“We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness.”
[Not difficult at all: the source is totalitarian Islam.]
“The essence of this tragedy” [it was a personal tragedy for those who lost loved ones; but for the nation, it was an act of war] “it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others.” [They were jihadists, driven by their clearly articulated faith to kill the infidel, not “empathize” with them.]
“Such a failure of empathy,” he continued, “such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.”
[As though we should have responded to the attacks by airlifting food stamps and subsidized housing to al Qaeda. More to the point: most of the Sept. 11 hijackers were middle- to upper-middle class and highly educated, not exactly the poor, desperate masses to whom he refers. Those who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks weren’t “ignorant.” They were jihadis.]
Mr. Obama went on to counsel patience and warn against overreacting: “We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe — children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores.”
The United States had just been attacked in an act of war by a barbaric and ruthless enemy, 2,977 people had been slaughtered in cold blood, and the nation was seized by grief and shock. Mr. Obama took that moment to express compassion for the enemy, concern over imaginary American bigotry, a desire to perform social engineering on the rest of the world, and the hackneyed claim that “the children are our future.” He placed responsibility for the enemy’s acts upon us and then blamed us for regarding them as an enemy.
Mr. Obama’s first instinct was to reach for the knee-jerk anti-Americanism that’s at the very heart of leftism. It’s our fault that there is so much injustice in the world and such hatred toward this nation. We’ve been a bully, throwing our weight around the world without thought of consequence, pillaging foreign lands and tossing their people aside when they could no longer be of use to us.
This is the essence of Mr. Obama’s worldview: Because of our grave injustices, the United States must retreat from global leadership, become increasingly dependent on other nations and multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations; favor international law over American law and interests; and ultimately seek transnationalism, a one-world global governing regime. Mr. Obama and the left have sought to turn America into nothing special, because to them, all countries, cultures and systems of government are created equal, and constitutional republics like ours have no right to exceptionalism, either on the world stage or here at home.
This is why President Obama’s first reaction after the Sept. 11 attacks was so revealing. The leftist radicalism inherent in it showed the mentality he has brought to his role as commander in chief. Now the nation is in a far more dangerous position, both at home and in the world. It’s also what predictably happens when you put leftists in charge of national security.
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