There has been a steady drip, drip, drip of criticism aimed at President Barack Obama’s strategy against terrorism, and the threat posed here in the United States. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump dominated the debate with his controversial call to bar Muslims from entering America in the wake of the deadly mass shooting by a young Muslim couple in San Bernardino, California.
Obama’s Oval Office address was examined and torn apart by his fiercest opponents for lacking anything new in the fight against the Islamic State, and for failing to comfort the nerves of ordinary Americans. From the president’s standpoint, those calling for a tougher response by pressing for a new military effort against jihadists are ignoring history – at America’s own peril.
How Obama Thinks About Terrorism
Peter Beinart – The Atlantic
Unlike [Marco] Rubio, he considers violent jihadism a small, toxic strain within Islamic civilization, not a civilization itself. And unlike [George W.] Bush, he doesn’t consider it a serious ideological competitor….
While Republicans think ISIS is strong and growing stronger, Obama thinks it’s weak and growing weaker. “Terrorists,” he declared on Sunday, now “turn to less complicated acts of violence like the mass shootings that are all too common in our society.” …
The leading GOP presidential candidates reject that. They believe defeating the Islamic State requires some dramatic, if vaguely defined, new military and ideological exertion. Obama, by contrast, thinks America simply needs to not screw up.
Obama’s Response to ISIS Threat Has Emboldened Terrorists, Not Stopped Them
Rep, Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) – Fox News
Since the president addressed the nation, I’ve been reading e-mails and hearing from some of my constituents who believe that this president’s response was tone-deaf. They view him as a fearful leader who is in denial about the threat terrorism poses to our country.
Americans want to see leadership that will communicate the message that we are going to find these terrorists, we’re going to destroy them and we’re going to destroy their networks. But that is not what the president has been saying….
How should we fight back? With a show of force and resolve — the kind of spirit displayed by French President Hollande — qualities that have been lacking in our own president’s response to this situation.
Watch Obama’s Oval Office address on terrorism:
Fred Kaplan – Foreign Affairs
This is a common critique of Obama’s foreign policy: that he evades hard decisions, that he is allergic to military force if it risks American casualties or escalation, that there is often a mismatch between his words and his deeds. “This is a pattern,” one retired four-star general said. “He issues stern warnings, then does nothing. It damages American credibility.”
Is the charge true? And to the extent that it has some validity, how much can be laid at Obama’s feet, and how much should be attributed to the intractability of the problems he has faced? Would a different sort of president have handled the decade’s challenges better, and if so, how?…
While Petraeus was working up the [arm Syrian rebels] plan, Obama asked the CIA to produce a paper on how often in the past U.S. arms had succeeded in helping rebels oust hostile governments. The answer: not very often. That sealed the case.
We Should Be At War
Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas – USA Today
BOB: The terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., which killed 14 and wounded 21, is the deadliest of its kind on U.S. soil since 9/11. Coming on the heels of the Paris attack, which killed at least 120, a state of fear has taken hold across America. Putting fear into people is the principal goal of terrorists, and they have been successful. The question is, where do we go from here?
CAL: As you have courageously said, one step should be to put a hold on the visas granted to students and others from countries that breed terrorists. Thousands have absconded after their visas expired, and the government can’t locate them. The Islamic State terrorist group has claimed that its sympathizers are among the refugee-immigrants coming to Europe, which means they’re likely among the refugees coming to the United States. We disbelieve them at our peril. In his Sunday night address, President Obama said he has ordered a “review” of the visa program under which San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik entered the USA. That’s a start.
The Military Impulse and Hysteria Over ISIS
Paul R. Pillar – The National Interest
A dominant theme in public discourse is that the so-called Islamic State or ISIS is behind what has already become highly destructive terrorism in the West and therefore the United States needs to hasten to destroy the group in its stronghold in Syria and Iraq, and this means increased use of military force.
Republican presidential candidates have been leading the charge with heavy use of “war” vocabulary, which is the lexicon of choice to convey toughness and to appeal to public fears even when specific meanings and implications of such terminology do not get spelled out….
The most that one can say so far about ISIS and the attacks in the West to which it has been “linked” is that it served in some way as an inspiration. Or more accurately, it served as the sort of larger cause on behalf of which even people who are driven by more parochial grievances and inward demons like to be associated as they carry out their violent acts.