Left: “HE’S GOT THE MOVES: US President Barack Obama dances tango with a dancer during a state dinner in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. (AFP)” Arab News, March 25, 2016
For an Administration, which supposedly excels in its appreciation and manipulation of the media, the current presentation of Pres. Barack Obama’s activities is not only onerous but inexplicable.
All Europe and the civilized world is in mourning in sympathy with our ally Belgium. As blood, including Americans,’ is still being scraped off the walls of the Brussels airport waiting room and a nearby subway station, our president is going to baseball games and exhibiting his art of the tango.
The President has made what are seemingly pro forma brief statements about the depth of the tragedy and his intention to make the destruction of the terrorist network his highest priority in policymaking. But his insistence that the terrorist threat is not “existential” to U.S. security belies the seriousness with which his Administration treats the problem.
His social behavior on the current Latin American trip, which for important reasons of strategy he might be correct in not ending, is inexcusable. And the Administration has announced no real new political and military strategy to fulfill his promise to annihilate Daesh [ISIS or ISIL].
The administration claims that the terrorists have lost ground are obviously false with their continued attacks – now more than 175 – around the world and their growing amalgamation of terrorist groups also in Africa and Asia.
A minimum action by the President might have been some new statement of coordinated policy and strategy within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] with the psychological boost of its headquarters only a few thousand feet from the scene of the bombings. One has to harken back to how rapidly its members came to the U.S. assistance after 9/11 under Article 5, which pledges all of us to mutual defense. The comparison with Washington’s response to the growing European crisis is all too obvious.
The President’s partisans and supporters argue that the chief aim of the terrorists is to disrupt our normal lives and purposeful routines. To lend unwarranted importance to their acts of violence would accomplish just that purpose, it’s argued.. That logic does not hold up. The incredible complexity of American life has, indeed, not been much affected by these terrorist episodes despite their horrendous psychological impact. But that does not mean their continuance will not eventually erode the American lifestyle. Especially if the reports of the growing number of returned Syrian jihadists and the squelched plots uncovered by he FBI are taken into account.
They argue, too, that to put overly much significance to these events with the President’s attention would create a hysteria that might result in additional prejudice and even violence against our Muslim minority. But the charge of Islamophobia against every effort to search out the origins of Islamic terrorism impedes an important part of the effort to eliminate it. The terrorists, after all, are not drawn from Southern Baptists or Mormons and their relationship to some aspects of Islamic thought must be analyzed if it is to be defeated at the intellectual level.
Nor, again as the President’s apologists argue, is it counterproductive to pressure our Muslim allies in the Middle East and elsewhere to investigate the origins and pursue the terrorists. It is no secret that Saudi funds finance mosques in the U.S. and throughout the rest of the world that tolerate imams [religious] spokesmen who advocate religious hatred and even violence. Qatar, which has played all side of the complicated Middle East political scene, is a chief sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, the fountainhead of the Muslim terrorist sects. [That is despite its hosting one of the most important U.S. military bases in the region.] Reforming Muslims who want to eliminate terrorism – which after all has taken many more Muslim victims than non-Muslims – welcome our aid in examining and eliminating the aspects of their religion which breed the violence.
The President’s social actions could be called largely irrelevant to the current political scene and the struggle against Islamic terrorism [which the Administration, of course, still refuses to name]. But gestures and behavior are important aspects of the political scene. And Obama’s obtuseness is going to contribute to the difficulties of eliminating this worldwide scourge
* This commentary has been posted on yeoldecrabb.com