The Corner

Time to Rethink Our National-Security Policies

If it is true that the State Department, in adolescent fashion, tweeted a birthday message to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his 54th, and if it is true that the man believed to be responsible for the latest bomb plot, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, was behind or at least associated with the Christmas Day bomber, then some very real questions arise as to the sanity of our current policies. Evidently, the terrorists are getting a much different message than the one the Obama administration intended to send.

The list goes on and on: the al-Arabiya interview, the Cairo speech, the bowing, the euphemisms (“man-caused disasters,” “overseas contingency operations”), the president’s use of “enemies” for Americans rather than radical Islamists, the KSM trial gambit, the constant trashing of the Bush administration by John Brennan and others, Muslim outreach at NASA, the demonization of Guantanamo and the subsequent retreat from insistence on its closure, the criminalization of acts of war . . .

These actions have not deterred would-be terrorists intent on blowing up airplanes, Times Square, or U.S. service personnel. Moreover, they may be sending the message that we are less confident now that radical Islam is something that needs to be defeated and crushed. We surely didn’t get that sense of outrage last Christmas when the president characterized Abdulmuttalab’s foiled attempt with the legalistic adverb “allegedly.”

A leader who has promised to wipe out Israel — and is proceeding to find the means to do so — will not be flattered by a Twitter message. He can only have contempt for our frivolity and appeasement. Had Abdulmutallab immediately been arrested last Christmas as an enemy combatant (a phrase that has also been Trotskyized in the last 21 months) and promptly sent for interrogation at Guantanamo, would he have enlightened us about the nature of his bomb maker, and would that inquiry have led to some increased defense against Asiri’s handiwork? Would Asiri have gotten as far as he did in his latest terrorist attempt? This is not partisan inquiry, but legitimate questioning of the national-security policies that affect us all.

It is past time to cool the “reset button” rhetoric and get back to the serious business of protecting American lives against radical Islamic terrorists. As we have seen the last two years, they will step up their efforts to kill us until they accept that doing so is synonymous with their own destruction.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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