Editor’s Note: This column was coauthored by Bob Morrison.
President Obama’s State of the Union Address made it clear he is no Lame Duck. Despite his midterm election drubbing, the President came out swinging. The economy has come off the mat. Ironically enough, he is benefiting from crash of oil prices. But in his case, he did everything he could do to prevent the surge in domestic oil and natural gas production.
It reminds us of what Adlai Stevenson once said about Richard Nixon: He’s the kind of man who would chop down a redwood, then mount the stump to give a speech on conservation! Ditto Mr. Obama.
President Obama’s fighting State of the Union Address proves he is determined to use every constitutional weapon he has and also to put a horseshoe or two in his boxing gloves. While he is no Lame Duck, he is certainly a Lame Dove.
Winning the Nobel Peace Prize based on your first Hundred Days in office makes the rest of your term rather anti-climactic. Mr. Obama hurried off to Egypt in 2009 to speak before Al Azhar University and to appeal to listeners in that hotbed of Muslim Brotherhood agitation. He told them Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate in Gaza, “must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.”
Tough talk. Hamas, of course, did nothing of the kind. They sent thousands of rockets into Israel, targeting schools and hospitals. They rejected any talk of Israel’s right to exist. And they built tunnels big enough to run a Metro subway through.
Well, what should the U.S. do in response? Mr. Obama gives them hundreds of millions in foreign aid by letting them form a unity government with the PLO.
The President’s speech didn’t mention his historic “Russian Re-set” policy. Just as well. If anything has been re-set with Russia, it is the Cold War. Or perhaps it is the famous clock on the cover of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
Russia has just inked a deal with the Mullahs of Tehran to help build a nuclear reactor for Iran. Iran, the Number One state sponsor of terrorism in the world. If Iran is allowed to build nuclear plants for supposedly peaceful purposes, then it can generate nuclear waste and this can be the basis for a “dirty bomb.” A dirty bomb set off in Manhattan or Washington, D.C. could have devastating consequences—for decades.
In Geneva, Iran’s Foreign Minister often screams at Secretary of State John Kerry. So loud and abusive has this scandalous behavior become that security has come running, thinking an attack was in progress.
Actually, they’re right. But the attack is on this administration’s credibility. Iran–defiant and contemptuous–continues to hold our Embassy Compound. That’s sovereign U.S. territory.
They have never even apologized for kidnaping and beating our 52 American hostages, subjecting them to mock executions from 1979-81. They have never acknowledged inventing suicide bombing as a weapon to murder 241 U.S. Marines and Navy Corpsmen in Beirut in 1983. They are known to be behind the killing of 17 American military personnel in the attack on Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996.
And in the long, drawn-out negotiations with Iran, President Obama and Sec. Kerry have repeatedly kicked the can down the road. Deadline after deadline has passed with no consequences for the recalcitrant Mullahs.
These are men who ordered thousands of little boys—Iranian little boys, some as young as eight—to walk through Saddam Hussein’s minefields during the decade-long Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. They gave the doomed lads little plastic keys to open the gates of Paradise.
This administration has no idea who it is dealing with. That is because this administration has no understanding of the importance of religious zeal in the world.
This is especially evident in President Obama’s record of virtually ignoring the historic levels of Christian persecution in the Middle East. Thousands of Christians are being murdered with hardly a murmur of protest from the Obama administration.
Instead, Mr. Obama sends Persian New Year greetings to the Mullahs. Israeli author Jonathan Spyer saw Islamism up close during his London grad school days. In his important book, Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict, he is candid about why he underestimated the Jihadists’ zeal:
I missed their thinking because I wasn’t used to seeing things through a religious mind-set, with all the changes such an attitude brings. I expected these young Islamists to be similar to [Arab] nationalists in their outlook, with a thin theological layer on top. But they were not. The linking of their project, in their minds, to the creator of the universe created something quite different. It gave them a sort of patience, and an ability to take the long view on the struggle in which they were engaged.
When Egypt’s new strong man overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood leader of his country, the Obama administration was not happy. They preferred to deal with Mohamed Morsi, even though he publicly demanded the release from a U.S. prison of the Blind Sheikh who plotted the first murderous attack on the World Trade Center. President Obama lavished tens of millions of U.S. Aid dollars on Mohamed Morsi’s government, while he cut off the new regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Gen. al-Sisi recently sternly lectured the Muslim Brotherhood-backing clerics at Al Azhar University, saying: “We have reached the point that Muslims have antagonized the entire world. Is it 1.6 billion [Muslims] want to kill the rest of the world’s population of 7 billion so that [we] Muslims can prosper?” Al-Sisi demanded a “revolution” in Muslim clerics’ thinking or else his community will be “torn apart, destroyed, and going to hell.”
This is the kind of tough talk about terrorism that one would think President Obama would welcome coming from the leader of the largest Muslim majority land in the Mideast. But President Obama’s administration refuses even to call Islamist terrorism Islamist.
Gen. al-Sisi is taking his life in his hands. For less than this, Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Instead of talking tough and backing it up with military muscle, President Obama and his team brag about their Soft Power and their Smart Diplomacy. If they are so smart, why is America less respected in the world today than at any time in memory? If they have such Soft Power, how come nobody seems to be listening to President Obama?
Mr. Obama says he intends to “remake America.” This project has always required a reduced role in the world for this country. It demands that we no longer thinks of our nation as “exceptional,” or even, as Bill Clinton liked to say, that we are “the indispensable nation.”
For Barack Obama, there is always plenty of fight, plenty of grit, plenty of steely resolve. All of this is reserved not for use against our real enemies. It is to be employed solely in the struggle with his fellow Americans.
Ken Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union, and on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.