Awaiting a President

From Charles Krauthammer:

Tell me: What’s a suicide bomber doing with a passport? He’s not going anywhere. And, though I’m not a religious scholar, I doubt that a passport is required in paradise for a martyr to access his 72 black-eyed virgins.

A Syrian passport was found near the body of one of the terrorists. Why was it there? Undoubtedly, to back up the Islamic State boast that it is infiltrating operatives amid the refugees flooding Europe. The passport may have been fake, but the terrorist’s fingerprints were not. They match those of a man who just a month earlier had come through Greece on his way to kill Frenchmen in Paris.

If the other goal of the Paris massacre was to frighten France out of the air campaign in Syria — the way Spain withdrew from the Iraq War after the terror attack on its trains in 2004 — they picked the wrong country. France is a serious post-colonial power, as demonstrated in Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, and Mali, which France saved from an Islamist takeover in 2013.

Indeed, socialist President Francois Hollande has responded furiously to his country’s 9/11 with an intensified air campaign, hundreds of raids on suspected domestic terrorists, a state of emergency, and proposed changes in the constitution to make France less hospitable to jihad.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama, titular head of the free world, has responded to Paris with weariness and annoyance. His news conference in Turkey was marked by a stunning tone of passivity, detachment, and lassitude, compounded by impatience and irritability at the very suggestion that his Syria strategy might be failing.

The only time he showed any passion was in denouncing Republicans for hardheartedness toward Muslim refugees. One hundred and twenty-nine innocents lie dead but it takes the GOP to kindle Obama’s ire.

The rest was mere petulance, dismissing criticisms of his Syria policy as popping off. Inconveniently for Obama, one of those popper-offers is Dianne Feinstein, the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. She directly contradicted Obama’s blithe assertion, offered the day before the Paris attack, that the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIL) was contained and not gaining strength. “I have never been more concerned,” said Feinstein. “ISIL is not contained. ISIL is expanding.”

Obama defended his policy by listing its multifaceted elements. Such as, “I hosted at the United Nations an entire discussion of counterterrorism strategies and curbing the flow of foreign fighters.” An “entire” discussion, mind you. Not a partial one. They tremble in Raqqa.

And “We have mobilized 65 countries to go after ISIL.” Yes, and what would we do without Luxembourg?

Obama complained of being criticized for not being bellicose enough. But the complaint is not about an absence of bellicosity but about an absence of passion, of urgency, and of commitment to the fight. The air campaign over Syria averages seven strikes a day. Seven. In Operation Desert Storm, we flew 1,100 sorties a day. Even in the Kosovo campaign, we averaged 138. Obama is doing just enough in Syria to give the appearance of motion, yet not nearly enough to have any chance of success.

Obama’s priorities lie elsewhere. For example, climate change, which he considers the greatest “threat to our future.” And, of course, closing Guantánamo. Obama actually released five detainees on the day after the Paris massacre. He is passionate about Guantánamo. It’s a great terrorist recruiting tool, he repeatedly explains. Obama still seems to believe that — even as the Islamic State has produced an astonishing wave of terrorist recruitment with a campaign of brutality, butchery, and enslavement filmed in living color. Who can still believe that young Muslims are leaving Europe to join the Islamic State because of Guantánamo?

Obama’s other passion is protecting Islam from any possible association with “violent extremism.” The Islamic State is nothing but “killers with fantasies of glory.” Obama can never bring himself to acknowledge why these people kill and willingly die: to advance a radical Islamist millenarianism that is purposeful indeed eschatological — and appealing enough to have created the largest, most dangerous terrorist movement on earth.

Hollande is trying to gather a real coalition to destroy the Islamic State, even as Obama touts his phony 65. For eleven post-World War II presidencies, coalition leading has been the role of the United States. Where is America today? Awaiting a president. The next president.


The Barbarians Are Inside, And There Are No Gates

From Mark Steyn:

As I write, Paris is under curfew for the first time since the German occupation, and the death toll from the multiple attacks stands at 158, the vast majority of them slaughtered during a concert at the Bataclan theatre, a delightful bit of 19th century Chinoiserie on the boulevard Voltaire. The last time I was there, if memory serves, was to see Julie Pietri. I’m so bloody sick of these savages shooting and bombing and killing and blowing up everything I like – whether it’s the small Quebec town where my little girl’s favorite fondue restaurant is or my favorite hotel in Amman or the brave freespeecher who hosted me in Copenhagen …or a music hall where I liked to go to hear a little jazz and pop and get away from the cares of the world for a couple of hours. But look at the photographs from Paris: there’s nowhere to get away from it; the barbarians who yell “Allahu Akbar!” are there waiting for you …when you go to a soccer match, you go to a concert, you go for a drink on a Friday night. They’re there on the train… at the magazine office… in the Kosher supermarket… at the museum in Brussels… outside the barracks in Woolwich…

Twenty-four hours ago, I said on the radio apropos the latest campus “safe space” nonsense:

This is what we’re going to be talking about when the mullahs nuke us.

Almost. When the Allahu Akbar boys opened fire, Paris was talking about the climate-change conference due to start later this month, when the world’s leaders will fly in to “solve” a “problem” that doesn’t exist rather than to address the one that does. But don’t worry: we already have a hashtag (#PrayForParis) and doubtless there’ll be another candlelight vigil of weepy tilty-headed wankers. Because as long as we all advertise how sad and sorrowful we are, who needs to do anything?

With his usual killer comedy timing, the “leader of the free world” told George Stephanopoulos on “Good Morning, America” this very morning that he’d “contained” ISIS and that they’re not “gaining strength”. A few hours later, a cell whose members claim to have been recruited by ISIS slaughtered over 150 people in the heart of Paris and succeeded in getting two suicide bombers and a third bomb to within a few yards of the French president.

Visiting the Bataclan, M Hollande declared that “nous allons mener le combat, il sera impitoyable“: We are going to wage a war that will be pitiless.

Does he mean it? Or is he just killing time until Obama and Cameron and Merkel and Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull fly in and they can all get back to talking about sea levels in the Maldives in the 22nd century? By which time France and Germany and Belgium and Austria and the Netherlands will have been long washed away.

Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight’s events as “an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share”.

But that’s not true, is it? He’s right that it’s an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world – an attack on one portion of “humanity” by those who claim to speak for another portion of “humanity”. And these are not “universal values” but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta “universal” when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those “universal values” are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.

And then Europe decided to invite millions of Muslims to settle in their countries. Most of those people don’t want to participate actively in bringing about the death of diners and concertgoers and soccer fans, but at a certain level most of them either wish or are indifferent to the death of the societies in which they live – modern, pluralist, western societies and those “universal values” of which Barack Obama bleats. So, if you are either an active ISIS recruit or just a guy who’s been fired up by social media, you have a very large comfort zone in which to swim, and which the authorities find almost impossible to penetrate.

And all Chancellor Merkel and the EU want to do is make that large comfort zone even larger by letting millions more “Syrian” “refugees” walk into the Continent and settle wherever they want. As I wrote after the Copenhagen attacks in February:

I would like to ask Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt what’s their happy ending here? What’s their roadmap for fewer “acts of violence” in the years ahead? Or are they riding on a wing and a prayer that they can manage the situation and hold it down to what cynical British civil servants used to call during the Irish “Troubles” “an acceptable level of violence”? In Pakistan and Nigeria, the citizenry are expected to live with the reality that every so often Boko Haram will kick open the door of the schoolhouse and kidnap your daughters for sex-slavery or the Taliban will gun down your kids and behead their teacher in front of the class. And it’s all entirely “random”, as President Obama would say, so you just have to put up with it once in a while, and it’s tough if it’s your kid, but that’s just the way it is. If we’re being honest here, isn’t that all Mr Cameron and Miss Thorning-Schmidt are offering their citizens? Spasms of violence as a routine feature of life, but don’t worry, we’ll do our best to contain it – and you can help mitigate it by not going to “controversial” art events, or synagogues, or gay bars, or…

…or soccer matches, or concerts, or restaurants…

To repeat what I said a few days ago, I’m Islamed out. I’m tired of Islam 24/7, at Colorado colleges, Marseilles synagogues, Sydney coffee shops, day after day after day. The west cannot win this thing with a schizophrenic strategy of targeting things and people but not targeting the ideology, of intervening ineffectually overseas and not intervening at all when it comes to the remorseless Islamization and self-segregation of large segments of their own countries.

So I say again: What’s the happy ending here? Because if M Hollande isn’t prepared to end mass Muslim immigration to France and Europe, then his “pitiless war” isn’t serious. And, if they’re still willing to tolerate Mutti Merkel’s mad plan to reverse Germany’s demographic death spiral through fast-track Islamization, then Europeans aren’t serious. In the end, the decadence of Merkel, Hollande, Cameron and the rest of the fin de civilisation western leadership will cost you your world and everything you love.

So screw the candlelight vigil.


The $20 Trillion Irresponsible, Unpatriotic Man

“The problem is is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China, in the name of our children, dragging up our national debt from $5 trillion — for the first 42 presidents — number 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman, and child. That’s irresponsible. That’s unpatriotic.”

— Barack Obama, Fargo, ND, July 3, 2008

From The Washington Times:

When President Obama signs into law the new two-year budget deal Monday, his action will bring into sharper focus a part of his legacy that he doesn’t like to talk about: He is the $20 trillion man.

Mr. Obama’s spending agreement with Congress will suspend the nation’s debt limit and allow the Treasury to borrow another $1.5 trillion or so by the end of his presidency in 2017. Added to the current total national debt of more than $18.15 trillion, the red ink will likely be crowding the $20 trillion mark right around the time Mr. Obama leaves the White House.


The Vision of the Anointed, Epitomized

From Bret Stephens:

David Petraeus testified last month to the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. policy in the Middle East. Regarding Syria, the former general and CIA director urged a credible threat to destroy Bashar Assad’s air force if it continues to bomb its own people. He also recommended “the establishment of enclaves in Syria protected by coalition air power, where a moderate Sunni force could be supported and where additional forces could be trained, internally displaced persons could find refuge, and the Syrian opposition could organize.”

But Barack Obama does not agree. At his Friday press conference, the president described such views as “mumbo-jumbo,” “half-baked ideas,” “as-if” solutions, a willful effort to “downplay the challenges involved in the situation.” He says the critics have no answers to the questions of “what exactly would you do and how would you fund it and how would you sustain it.”

America’s greatest living general might as well have been testifying to his shower drain for all the difference his views are going to make in this administration.

So it is with this president. It’s not enough for him to stake and defend his positions. He wants you to know that he thinks deeper, sees further, knows better, operates from a purer motive. His preferred method for dealing with disagreement is denigration. If Republicans want a tougher line in Syria, they’re warmongers. If Hillary Clinton thinks a no-fly zone is a good idea, she’s playing politics: “There is obviously a difference,” the president tut-tutted about his former secretary of state’s position, “between running for president and being president.”

You can interpret that jab as a sign Mr. Obama is urging Joe Biden to run. It’s also a reminder that Mr. Obama believes his Syria policy—the one that did nothing as 250,000 people were murdered; the one that did nothing as his own red lines were crossed; the one that allowed ISIS to flourish; the one that has created the greatest refugee crisis of the 21st century; the one currently being exploited by Russia and Iran for geopolitical advantage—is a success.

That’s because the president’s fundamental conviction about American foreign policy is that we need less of it—less commitment, less expense, less responsibility. Winston Churchill once said that the U.S. could not be “the leading community in the civilized world without being involved in its problems, without being convulsed by its agonies and inspired by its causes.” Mr. Obama sees it differently. He is the president who would prefer not to. He is the Bartleby of 21st century geopolitics.

As for what a serious Syria policy might look like, the U.S. proved it was capable of creating safe havens and enforcing no-fly zones in 1991 with Operation Provide Comfort, which stopped Saddam Hussein from massacring Kurds in northern Iraq the way he had butchered Shiites in southern Iraq.

This is how we wound up preventing what might otherwise have been a refugee crisis that would have rivaled the current exodus from Syria. It’s how we got an Iraqi Kurdistan—the one undisputed U.S. achievement in the Middle East in the past 25 years. It’s how we were later able to stop ISIS from swallowing northern Iraq and eastern Syria whole.

Reprising that formula in Syria won’t be simple, but what’s the alternative? John Kerry wants another grand conference in Geneva so the warring parties can settle their differences in a civilized way. Will ISIS be invited to the table? Donald Trump says that if the Russians “want to hit ISIS, that’s OK with me”—except the Russians are hitting U.S.-backed rebels instead of ISIS. There’s a view that staying out of Syria is the best way to get bad guys on all sides to fight their way to mutual extinction. But the lesson of the Syrian war is that chaos does not annihilate the forces of jihad. It turbocharges them.

“It is frequently said that there is no ‘military solution’ to Syria,” Gen. Petraeus said in his testimony. “This may be true, but it is also misleading. For, in every case, if there is to be hope of a political settlement, a certain military and security context is required—and that context will not materialize on its own.” Is this, too, mumbo-jumbo?

In the meantime, note what Vladimir Putin, lectured by Mr. Obama for getting Russia “stuck in a quagmire,” is achieving in Syria.

For a relatively trivial investment of some jet fighters and a brigade-sized support force, Moscow extends its influence in the eastern Mediterranean, deepens a commercially and strategically productive alliance with Iran, humiliates the U.S., boosts Mr. Putin’s popularity at home, and earns a geopolitical card he can play in any number of negotiations—Ukraine, gas contracts, Mr. Assad’s political future, you name it. If things don’t work out, he can pull up stakes within a week without much loss of money, lives or prestige. It’s a perfect play.

I spent some time staring at press pool photos of Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin at their recent encounter at the United Nations. The Russian seems to gaze at the president the way a good chess player approaches an inferior opponent—somewhere between delighted and bored by the intellectual mismatch. We’ve got 16 more months of this to go.


Quote of the Day

“Actually, one of my favorite moments at Saturday’s event came as I was leaving Parliament in the company of a Danish MP. She said she’d see me at the restaurant but she had to pick up her bicycle and pedal there. That’s right: Danish legislators bicycle to work. I don’t know if they have a 40-man entourage furiously pedaling on tandems behind them, but, if so, I didn’t see any. As I’ve sighed to no effect so many times before, in the US the transformation of citizen-legislators into courtier-dependent Gulf emirs is one of the reasons why America’s political class is so disconnected from the rhythms of ordinary life, and why it seems to attract so many psychologically unhealthy types …and why a nation of 300 million people winds up with an inside-the-bubble election contest between the wife of a previous president and the son and brother of two previous presidents. Indeed, I think the main thing people like about Ben Carson is how normal he seems – which is why saying not a thing in the debates only drives his numbers upward.”

Mark Steyn