7 December 2015

Barack Obama is weak and delusional in the face of terror


Barack Obama’s primetime address from the Oval Office last night will do nothing to reassure the American people in the wake of the biggest terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11. After 14 Californians were slaughtered by Islamist radicals in San Bernardino last week, President Obama offered nothing in the way of a new strategy for defeating the mounting threat posed to the US homeland and to the West by Islamist terrorism. His speech was defiant, defensive and delusional, at a time when the free world badly needs leadership from the world’s superpower, and as the Islamic State continues to expand its presence across the globe.

There was no overarching vision offered by President Obama for defeating the ISIS menace, both at home and abroad. The tone from the White House was dismissive of criticism and hugely complacent. This was not a Churchillian call for the free world to stand up to the forces of evil, but more of a whimper from a president who prefers to lead from behind rather than project strength and resolve in the face of our enemies.

Even with the carnage on the streets of Paris in November, and the first major ISIS-inspired terror attack on the US homeland, President Obama simply doesn’t have the stomach for the fight. He is highly energized on matters such as climate change and domestic gun control, issues that have no bearing on the Islamist terror threat. Belgium, it should be noted, has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world (like many European countries), but operates as a key hub of Islamist terrorism in Europe, and is flooded with illegal weapons which have easily found their way into the hands of Jihadists.

The president is deeply passionate about sparring with his Republican opponents but completely lacking in energy and conviction when it comes to commanding what needs to be a global war against a vicious enemy. In addition to a striking lack of leadership from the White House, at the heart of the problem is Barack Obama’s refusal to acknowledge that the West and its allies across the world are engaged in a global war with the Jihadists, and what British Prime Minister David Cameron has referred to as the “poisonous ideology” of Islamist extremism.

Mired in a culture of denial and political correctness, it took days for the Obama administration to even acknowledge that the San Bernardino massacre was a terrorist attack, and one carried out by Islamists. In contrast, the rampage at a London underground station on Saturday, by a knife-wielding assailant shouting “this is for Syria,” was immediately identified and described by British authorities as Islamist terrorism. While the British government has pledged to increase defence spending, strengthen Britain’s Special Forces capability, and significantly expand Britain’s intelligence services in the face of the Islamist threat, the Obama administration has offered only platitudes in place of substance in the wake of the Paris attacks. Even France’s strikingly uncharismatic Socialist President Francois Hollande looks tougher on terror at the moment than the leader of the free world.

The American people expect more from their president at a time of growing fear and uncertainty. President Obama’s overall strategy appears to be one of leaving the ISIS mess to the next occupant of the Oval Office. It is no coincidence that under his watch the Islamists have seized control of vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, have spread their tentacles through Libya, and are now making major inroads in Afghanistan with the withdrawal of most US forces there. At the same time, Moscow is flexing its muscle in Europe and in the Middle East, as the Obama presidency has dramatically reduced America’s footprint in both continents. Barack Obama’s foreign and national security policy has been an unmitigated disaster at a time when the enemies of freedom have become increasingly emboldened.

Nile Gardiner is the Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC.