White House adviser John Podesta has called changing weather an “almost existential threat” to the planet. In his State of the Union address, President Obama proclaimed that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”
Islamic terrorism, on the other hand, is manageable, according to Obama. He told CNN recently that he is determined to keep a “proper perspective” on it. He said that he will not “provide a victory to these terrorist networks by overinflating their importance and suggesting in some fashion that they are an existential threat to the United States or the world order.”
He sounded more worried about America’s response to terrorism than terrorism itself: “You know, the truth of the matter is that they can do harm. But we have the capacity to control how we respond in ways that do not undercut what’s the — you know, what’s essence of who we are. That means that we don’t torture, for example, and thereby undermine our values and credibility around the world. It means that we don’t approach this with a strategy of sending out occupying armies and playing Whac-A-Mole wherever a terrorist group appears because that drains our economic strength and it puts enormous burdens on our military.”
He never speaks in these parsimonious terms about combating climate change. That futile task will undoubtedly drain “our economic strength.” He is itching to spend money on a trendy and uncertain theory but not on a real and certain threat.
Plenty of generals have described Islamic terrorism as an increasing menace. Michael Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, according to press accounts, openly calls the Obama administration naïve and passive in the face of it. But the Obama administration isn’t listening. It prefers to listen to politicized military officials who fret about climate change. “The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security. We should act like it,” said Obama in the State of the Union address.
Islamic terrorism poses obvious immediate risks to national security and he is not acting like it. His famous campaign claim that the terrorists are “on the run” now takes on new meaning as some of them seek to run back to the battlefield after release. Obama’s decision to release the Taliban’s top terrorists appears already to be backfiring, according to CNN: “The U.S. military and intelligence community now suspect that one of the five Taliban detainees released from Guantanamo Bay in return for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in May of last year has attempted to return to militant activity from his current location in Qatar by making contact with suspected Taliban associates in Afghanistan.”
Thanks to Obama’s “proper perspective” on Islamic terrorism, American soldiers will now have to re-fight terrorists they once captured.
Obama is convinced that they can’t run countries: “When you look at ISIL, it has no governing strategy. It can talk about setting up the new caliphate but nobody is under any illusions that they can actually, you know, sustain or feed people or educate people or organize a society that would work. And so we can’t give them the victory of overinflating what they do, and we can’t make the mistake of being reactive to them. We have to have a precise strategy in terms of how to defeat them.”
Obama conveniently ignores the many terrorist-backed radical Islamic theocracies that already exist. Somehow they have managed to govern. The more radical Islam spreads, the more Obama claims it is a minor problem. What he calls a “medieval interpretation of Islam” looks quite modern, as terrorists threaten to take power in places such as Yemen. At the very moment he is pushing the notion that “99.9 percent” of Muslims are moderate, he visits countries like Saudi Arabia where people are flogged for merely questioning the religion.
Obama is more interested in working with these theocracies on climate change than changing the religion. As he sounds empty alarms about the future, the problems of the present loom larger. His solution is to close his eyes to them and hope they go away. In an era of beheadings, he continues to make small talk about the weather.