President Barack Obama’s absence from the great gathering in Paris of national leaders from other countries, to show their solidarity with France in its opposition to Islamic terrorists, was another sign of the Obama administration’s continuing irresolution in the face of terror.
Even the recent courageous message of Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, calling on his fellow Muslims around the world to “revolutionize” the interpretation of Islam, to make it more compatible with peaceful relations with other peoples, put no steel in the spine of Barack Obama.
From his earliest days in the White House, our president has downplayed the terrorist threat from Islamic extremists. He declared victory as he pulled American troops out of Iraq, setting the stage for a huge defeat when ISIS moved in to create their own new government, on both Iraqi and Syrian soil — while committing atrocities against men, women and children not seen since the days of the Nazis.
Undaunted, President Obama has since reaffirmed his determination to similarly pull American troops out of Afghanistan, with a similar declaration that they are no longer needed. He proceeds as if he can declare a war over when it suits the political convenience of his administration.
But a war is not over until the enemy stops fighting. The terrorist enemies of Iraq and Afghanistan are enemies of the United States as well. ISIS has left no doubt of that by beheading Americans and spreading the videotapes of these beheadings for the enjoyment of like-minded people in the Middle East and beyond.
Not even the movement of the world’s biggest sponsor of terrorism — Iran — toward building a nuclear bomb has caused the Obama administration to change its vision of the world. For Obama, the question has never been how to stop Iran from going nuclear, but how to stop Israel from stopping Iran from going nuclear.
He has accomplished that by public declarations of support for Israel, while engaging in protracted negotiations with Iran that serve only to allow Iran to fortify and proliferate the sites of its nuclear facilities, to the point where Israel’s bombers may no longer be able to destroy those facilities.
At one time, information was leaked that Israel had a secret arrangement with Azerbaijan for Israeli bombers to land there and refuel on their way back from bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities.
It is doubtful if anyone in the Obama administration would have dared to leak Israel’s military secrets without knowing that it was all right with the president. Since it is unlikely that very many people in the White House had this information, the leaker’s identity could hardly have remained secret from the president.
Barack Obama cannot be unaware of the consequences of these and other foreign policy decisions that undermine the security of America and America’s allies. He is not stupid, nor is there any reason to believe that he is cowardly.
Instead, there is a remarkable consistency between Obama’s domestic policies and his foreign policies on both economic and military matters. It was a sign of this consistency that he was proposing to have the taxpayers pay for free community college education while everyone else was focused on the terror attacks in Paris.
Barack Obama’s vision of the world, both at home and abroad, is one in which some people and nations are undeservedly far better off than others in many ways.
In the Obama view of the world, those who are undeservedly thriving (“You didn’t build that!”) are to be forced to pay for benefits to those who are not thriving, whether the latter are people on welfare, community college students or immigrants from poorer nations, who are to be let into the United States to take a share of Americans’ prosperity.
On the international stage, it is the same principle, where the problem is seen as Western nations being undeservedly better off than other nations, both economically and in terms of greater military power. Here too, Obama is for redistribution, even at the expense of his own country — if someone with such a “citizen of the world” viewpoint really thinks of America as his country, rather than a staging area for his world-changing, ideologically-driven crusades.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.