The Corner

National Security & Defense

Obama Has a Lot to Answer for Today

Obama’s expressions of solidarity with the French spirit were appropriately solemn, as the occasion required. But in light of the policies he has actually pursued in the Middle East, I found them infuriating.

When Fallujah fell to ISIS early last year, ground that Americans and their Iraqi allies had conquered with such valiant sacrifice became once again a terrorist safe haven. It was in a New Yorker interview shortly after this that Obama made his famous “JV team” comment. Something else he said then has stuck with me since, as a supreme expression of Obama’s callousness and reckless lack of concern for the dangers we face:

Let’s just keep in mind, Falluja is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into (emphasis mine).

What he means, in essence is this: The U.S. is no longer concerned about terrorist safe havens, even in the heart of the Middle East. If a country is divided along sectarian lines, we won’t lift a finger to help them fight terrorism. We’re willing to drop some bombs (as subordinate members of the Russian-Shiite axis, it turns out). But we certainly will not put boots on the ground, whatever risks that refusal entail – not until the locals get together and end their sectarian divisions. Because, if these terrorist safe havens lead to mass casualty terrorist attacks in our cities, it just goes to show what a mistake the Iraq War was to start with.

That, as far I can figure, is Obama’s actual position. And as he spoke last night, that’s what I heard, not the anodyne junior-speechwriter pabulum that was actually coming out of his mouth. Europe is being overrun in one of history’s most massive population movements, because of the terrorist safe-havens that Obama thinks are nothing we need to wade into. And now scores of innocent Parisians are dead because of the terrorist safe-havens that Obama thinks are nothing we need to wade into.

Obama has a lot to answer for today, starting with this question: What, exactly, is the administration’s position on terrorist safe havens such as the one ISIS enjoys mostly securely, as a matter of administration policy, on the very ground our soldiers fought and died for just a few years ago? 

Mario Loyola — Mr. Loyola is a research associate professor and the director of the Environmental Finance and Risk Management Program at Florida International University and a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. From 2017 to 2019 he was the associate director for regulatory reform at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.


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