secretary of defense says “the world is exploding all over.” His attorney
general says that the threat of terror “keeps me up at night.” The world
bears them out. On Tuesday, American hostage Kayla Mueller is confirmed dead. On
Wednesday, the U.S. evacuates its embassy in Yemen, cited by President Obama
last September as an American success in fighting terrorism.
Obama’s reaction to, shall we say, turmoil abroad has been one of alarming
lassitude and passivity.
worry, says his national security adviser: This is not WWII. As if one should be
reassured because the current chaos has yet to achieve the level of the most
devastating conflict in human history. Indeed, insists the President, the real
source of our metastasizing anxiety is . . . the news media.
pushes deep into eastern Ukraine. The Islamic State burns to death a Jordanian
pilot. Iran extends its hegemony over four Arab capitals — Beirut, Damascus,
Baghdad and now Sanaa.
America watches. Obama calls the policy “strategic patience.” That’s a
synonym for “inaction,” made to sound profoundly “strategic.”
Russia. The only news out of Obama’s one-hour press conference with Angela
Merkel this week was that he still can’t make up his mind whether to supply
Ukraine with defensive weapons. The Russians have sent in T-80 tanks and Grad
rocket launchers. We’ve sent in humanitarian aid that includes blankets, MREs
and psychological counselors.
complementary: The counselors do grief therapy for those on the receiving end of
the T-80 tank fire. “I think the Ukrainian people can feel confident that we
have stood by them,” said Obama at the news conference.
And don’t forget the blankets. America was once the arsenal of democracy,
notes Elliott Abrams. We are now its linen closet.
anti-tank and other defensive weapons? Because we are afraid that arming the
victim of aggression will anger the aggressor.
on-the-ground appeasement goes well with the linguistic appeasement whereby
Obama dares not call radical Islam by name. And whereby both the White House and
State Department spend much of a day insisting that the attack on the kosher
grocery in Paris had nothing to do with Jews. It was just, as the President
said, someone “randomly shoot(ing) a bunch of folks in a deli.” (By the end
of the day, the administration backed off this idiocy. By tweet.)
passivity — strategic, syntactical, ideological — is more than just a
reaction to the perceived overreach of the Bush years. Or a fear of failure. Or
bowing to the domestic left. It is, above all, rooted in Obama’s deep belief
that we — America, Christians, the West — lack the moral authority to
engage, to project, i.e., to lead.
we condemn the atrocities of others, intoned Obama at the National Prayer
Breakfast, we shouldn’t “get on our high horse.” We should acknowledge
having authored the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, etc. “in the name of
rare rhetorical feat, Obama managed to combine the banal and the repulsive.
After all, is it really a revelation that all religions have transgressed, that
man is fallen? To the adolescent Columbia undergrad, that’s a profundity. To a
roomful of faith leaders, that’s an insult to one’s intelligence.
deeply bad taste. A coalition POW is burned alive and the reaction of the
alliance leader barely 48 hours later is essentially: “Hey, but what about
Joan of Arc?”
Christians-have-sinned dismissal of the West’s moral standing is not new,
however. It is just a reprise of the theme of his post-inauguration 2009
confessional world tour. From Strasbourg to Cairo and the U.N. General Assembly,
he indicted his own country, as I chronicled at the time, “for arrogance, for
dismissiveness and derisiveness (toward Europe), for maltreatment of natives,
for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantánamo, for unilateralism, and for
insufficient respect for the Muslim world.”
purpose and the effect of such an indictment is to undermine any moral claim to
American world leadership. The line between the Washington prayer breakfast and
the Ukrainian grief counselors is direct and causal. Once you’ve discounted
your own moral authority, once you’ve undermined your own country’s moral
self-confidence, you cannot lead.
during the very week Islamic supremacists achieve “peak barbarism” with the
immolation of a helpless prisoner, you cannot take them on without apologizing
for sins committed a thousand years ago, you have prepared the ground for
that’s left is to call it strategic patience.