Obama’s National Security Report Card — Unsatisfactory
December 9, 2016
In his speech at MacDill Air Force Base, President Obama bragged that he has made America safer while preserving America’s values.
The incessant self-absorption is annoying enough, but the self-delusion puts it over the top. Whether he’s talking the economy or national security, he always paints a picture of his performance that contradicts reality.
Do Americans actually feel safer under his watch than they did under that of President George W. Bush? Has he inspired confidence that he is aggressively fighting terrorism at home and abroad and that he is administering a coherent foreign policy? Or does he come off more concerned with apologizing for America’s past “sins” and appeasing Islamists?
Obama’s inflexible ideology drove his obsession to withdraw our troops from Iraq so precipitously as to guarantee a void that would spawn the likes of the Islamic State group. It explains his stubborn refusal until recently to do anything to violate his sacred pledge not to place American boots on the ground.
Obama boasts that he ended two wars — Iraq and Afghanistan — but neither his withdrawal of American forces from Iraq nor his drawdown of our troops in Afghanistan ended a war. The wars mushroomed rather than ended because of his actions, and Iraq is still in far worse shape — by any measure — than when Obama took office. We are finally taking action there, but only after Obama pooh-poohed the Islamic State, said it was contained and then admitted he had no strategy — after saying he did.
His belated reversals on Iraq weren’t in time to prevent the immeasurable damage occasioned by the manner of his withdrawal, which virtually beckoned the Islamic State and other terrorist groups to set up shop there and organize global mischief and emboldened Islamists throughout the world.
Would you rather talk about Libya and Syria? I didn’t think so, but suffice it to say Obama’s record with both takes “leading from behind” to a new level. And the nuclear deal with Iran — coupled with turning hundreds of millions of dollars over to that sinister, terrorist-sponsoring regime — was even worse.
There is certainly room for reasonable disagreement on foreign policy among interventionists, isolationists and those who favor striking a balance between those two approaches, using America’s national security interests as the driving yardstick. These disagreements transcend party lines.
But what concerns me most about Obama and the left on national security is their Pollyannaish attitude toward the terrorist threats we face. Liberals always seem more concerned with making America likable than with making us safe — and they miserably conflate the two.
We don’t hear enough from them about the importance of strength and vigilance. Instead, they talk about preserving our values, ending enhanced interrogation techniques and closing Gitmo, as if Islamic terrorists hate us because we aren’t kind and lawful. Seriously?
On the heels of terrorist attacks by Islamists, whether on foreign or American soil, we rarely hear outrage or a commitment to redouble our effort to aggressively counter Islamic extremism. Rather, we are lectured not to discriminate against Muslims because of the attacks. And that’s only after liberals first deny terrorism was involved. Even when we have conclusive proof that Islamic terrorists caused the attacks, Obama et al. refuse to utter the words “Islamic terrorism.”
A few of Obama’s statements in the MacDill speech illustrate the problem. “No foreign terrorist organization,” he said, “has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland. … The most deadly attacks on the homeland over the last eight years have not been carried out by operatives with sophisticated networks or equipment directed from abroad. They’ve been carried out by homegrown and largely isolated individuals who were radicalized online.”
The problem is that many national security threats we face are asymmetrical and unconventional. Terrorists don’t have to be attached to a major Islamic group to strike with deadly force. By dismissing these increasingly frequent attacks as isolated downplays their epidemic nature. To say these “lone wolfs” are unconnected with foreign terrorist organizations is inconsistent with saying they were radicalized online. Who do you think is doing the radicalizing? It implies that an otherwise innocent internet surfer turns to murderous activity after serendipitously clicking on a provocative website.
What do we expect when we invite people into this nation who have no allegiance to — and sometimes even hatred for — America?
Obama says, “People and nations do not make good decisions when they are driven by fear.” I’m tired of hearing such cliches from both parties. What’s wrong with a healthy fear of people who want to kill you? What is ignoble about recognizing deadly threats and preparing for them?
We live in an increasingly dangerous world. The best way to counter that is through strength, not weakness and unilateral disarmament (and this is a cliche I’m not tired of). But Obama has downsized and degraded the military, increased burdens on American gun owners and vilified law enforcement, our first line of defense in all American cities.
It is encouraging that Americans have voted to reverse these disastrous policies and to move America’s national security interests from the back burner to the front burner, beginning in January, which can’t come soon enough.