Streetwise Professor

June 14, 2016

The American Bourbon Talks Terrorism

Filed under: History,Military,Politics — The Professor @ 6:49 pm

I have often described Obama as an American Bourbon (as in Louis XVIII, not Old Granddad): he has learned nothing, and forgotten nothing. No single thing exemplifies this more than his stubborn refusal to blame radical Islam for the latest outrage, this one in Orlando.

Obama claims that his rationale is that he does not want to allow ISIS to claim that the US is at war with Islam. Well, that’s the whole point of adding “radical” as a modifier. It is to demonstrate that we do not have an indiscriminate hatred or fear or even dislike of all Muslims. Obama’s refusal to make this distinction suggests that he thinks that Muslims are too stupid to recognize that. Or perhaps he thinks so little of Americans that he doesn’t believe that we are truly capable of making discriminating judgments, and that he really believes were are all closeted–or not so closeted–Islamophobes. He’s insulting either Muslims, or Americans, or more likely both.

Regardless, would that there were a latter-day Talleyrand who would lean over to Obama and say: “But sire, they are most decidedly at war with us.”

Keynes once said  “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” If Obama was his interlocutor, the reply would be: “Nothing. I am never wrong, and no new facts can contradict my original conclusion.” That’s exactly what leads to the Bourbon forget nothing-learn nothing syndrome.

Here’s why Obama’s mulishness is intensely unsettling to most Americans. They believe that his refusal to acknowledge a plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face fact has led to a conscious policy of ignoring threats for fear of offending Muslims. Orlando just provides more grist for that mill.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, flew more red flags than a Soviet May Day parade. The FBI investigated Mateen twice, and interviewed him three times. He had interacted with an American who went to Syria to become a martyr for ISIS. He was involved with Marcus Robertson*, a well-known jihadist and radical cleric who had been a bodyguard for the “Blind Sheikh.” He had attended an extremist mosque. He was well-known at his work for making extremist remarks.

But the FBI said “move along, nothing to see here!”, and the investigations were dropped. In the aftermath of Fort Hood (“workplace violence”), the dismissal of the investigation of the Tsarnaevs, and other episodes of denial and avoidance, people have a clear sense that Obama has made it plain to everyone below him in the chain of command that even the perception of Islamophobia is a far graver sin than letting a potential mass-murderer walk free–and it’s a career killer to boot.

It’s not just the refusal to utter the words “radical Islam” that conveys this message. “We can absorb attacks.” “ISIS is not an existential threat.” “You are more at risk of dying from a fall in your bathtub.” All of these send a message: Obama believes that Americans have an inordinate fear of terrorism.

Easy for a guy who drives around in an armored limousine called “the Beast” to say, isn’t it? Guy in an Orlando night club–not so much.

Yes, the probability of dying from terrorism is small. But people are rationally averse to low probability, extremely adverse events. And the question is whether these events can be prevented or deterred at reasonable cost, and whether it is the government’s responsibility to do so. Most Americans think yes. Obama evidently thinks no, or that the cost of perceived Islamophobia outweighs the benefit of preventing a mass murder or two.

It’s hard to believe, but the refusal to say “radical Islam” was among the least offensive things that Obama said today. He had the temerity to claim that attacks like Orlando are proof that ISIS is losing on the battlefield. As if there what happened in Orlando (or San Bernardino) involved the redeployment of any ISIS resource in Syria or Iraq, or that ISIS has no independent reason to attack the US. (I remind you that in his “ISIS is the jayvee” period, Obama asserted that ISIS had no intention of attacking the West as a reason for his insouciance. Wrong again, Carnac.) Further, he touted the 13,000 air strikes. Bean counting bullshit. How many strikes have been aborted? How many times has LBJ II vetoed a target? What is the operational impact of these airstrikes? Why was the air campaign so desultory for so long? Why has ISIS been given years of breathing room?

Obama has theories about Islam and terrorism. He has long held those theories, and he adamantly refuses even to modify them even in the face of a torrent of evidence. And pace Jefferson Davis, Americans have strong grounds to believe that many of their fellow citizens have died of that theory, including 50 people in a night club in Orlando.

* Robertson was interviewed this evening by Greta van Sustern. Considering it was an interview with a sick bastard who wants us infidels dead, it did have its amusing moments. Among other things, Mr. Robertson gave his weighty opinions on the presidential race. Among his pearls of wisdom was that Hillary would be dangerous as a president because as a woman she might get angry during her menses, and push the button.

Perhaps Mr. Robertson is a little bit shaky on the realities of the female reproductive system (which seems to be the case with most fundamentalist Muslim clerics), but I am pretty sure that Hillary is well past the age when menses, or even menopause, can have the slightest effect on her behavior.

Who wants to break the news to him? It could change his vote!



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  1. Wow. “Absorb”? Sirisly? Suddenly Putin does not look so callous and cynical – he probably also meant “it sank, but we can absorb it”, it’s just that he lacks the requisite rhetorical dexterity.

    Comment by Ivan — June 14, 2016 @ 7:45 pm

  2. @Ivan. Would I lie to you? Yup. He said it.

    Medvedev maybe is his rival in dexterity, with his “hang in there” remark.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 14, 2016 @ 8:15 pm

  3. Isn’t the simplest explanation the one that resolves the question? Obama is a Muslim, and he hates the United States. He proclaims the most beautiful sound is the early morning call of the Azan; he warns that the future doesn’t belong to those who criticize the prophet, a sentence every jihadi could support; instructs NASA to reach out to the Muslim world; makes his first stop in Cairo to speak to the MB; and on and on.
    Of course, all this is anecdotal. But balancing evidence that he is a Christian is lacking: for instance, no call to defend the Christians being persecuted by Islamic organizations around the world.
    Instead, he stammers when asked about San Bernadino, and prevaricates regarding Orlando.
    And it has not just been terrorism. Support Israel? The previous PM of Canada was a staunch supporter of Canada. That support of Israel was part of the motivation to squelch the pipeline. Now that another mindless leftwing radical is at the helm in Canada, it is kisses and hugs. He can soul-shake with Chavez, hug Raoul, with our enemies, but find one picture of him with Netanyahu smiling; discomfort oozes from those photos.
    There is good reason to be very concerned about his behavior in the seven long months we have to endure. There is a lot of damage he can do to the workings of the government, the well-being of the citizens and the foundations of the Declaration and Constitution. I predict he will pardon a lot of enemies of this country, including the Blind Sheik (just why and how could Morsi have made the Blind Sheik’s return a campaign pledge without some WH signal?). He will take some position at the United Nations, a position which will satisfy his hyper-narcissism and provide an ongoing forward position to snipe at the United States.
    And I predict that, sometime after his exit from office, he will ‘convert’ to Islam.
    I welcome in advance all the rebuke should I be wrong.

    Comment by Richard Whitney — June 14, 2016 @ 8:19 pm

  4. Well, that’s the whole point of adding “radical” as a modifier.

    One of the main issues is that the “radicals” are indeed radical, but the “moderates” are often not very moderate at all. Polls across western countries have supposedly moderate Muslims expressing rather immoderate opinions on the subject of homosexuality. Not that I think this is an issue per se, but it is when non-Muslims are being hounded for homophobia and browbeaten into accepting that Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner is a woman.

    And homosexuality isn’t the only issue on which “moderates” are not very moderate. Last summer I met a Turkish woman, very middle-class, privately educated in Istanbul, educated at Columbia University, lived for a few years in New York, drank alcohol, and called herself secular. She didn’t think Israel should exist.

    Radicals aren’t the main problem, it’s the supposedly “moderate” swamp they swim in that is.

    Comment by Tim Newman — June 15, 2016 @ 12:55 am

  5. […] Big surprise, eh? […]

    Pingback by Muslim cleric is shaky on female reproductive bits | Tim Worstall — June 15, 2016 @ 5:57 am

  6. The adding of ‘radical’ to Islam is just denial. The problem is Islam, not some supposed radical or perverted form of Islam. Mohammed was a murderer, bandit, slave owner, slave trader, rapist and a pedophile. The cult that he founded gives full, unbridled justification to the likes of IS for its brutal, barbaric, inhuman behaviour. Until we accept that mainstream Islam is the problem and that the West is at war with this evil, Medieval cult, we have no chance of winning. Muslims need to be told that the cult of Mohammed is incompatible with Western values and that we will not compromise our freedoms to accommodate their irrational beliefs. If they cannot accept Western values, they should go and live in a brutal, authoritarian Islamic state where their backward religion won’t be questioned.

    Comment by DocBud — June 15, 2016 @ 6:07 am

  7. “we will not compromise our freedoms to accommodate their irrational beliefs”

    You reckon?

    We will and do.

    Comment by Green As Grass — June 15, 2016 @ 8:33 am

  8. My comment was clearly about the fact that people in the West, and most particularly our leaders, are in denial or ignorant of the true nature of Mohammed and mainstream, Koranic Islam. I said what I think “Muslims need to be told”, I fully recognise that this is not happening which is why we are losing our hard won freedoms. There should be no accommodation of the backward beliefs of Muslims, sadly, most of the West’s leaders quite deliberately try to pretend that there is no problem with the assimilation of this group of people into a free, democratic society and vilify anyone who speaks the truth that, in fact, it is a massive problem.

    Comment by DocBud — June 15, 2016 @ 3:02 pm

  9. What I’ve learned this week, applied to history, is that WW II was a case of mass hysteria in the form of Teutonicphobia and Nipponphobia. Those poor, benighted souls that we celebrate misunderstood peace-loving Jaoanese and Germans; that their culture was good and equal to ours, just a few bad people there.

    Of course there is a military solution. We turned the Axis into pacifists with proper application of military power and much blood. It’s doable, but the West has lost its moral courage. And moral is three times more valuable than material.

    Comment by The Pilot — June 15, 2016 @ 7:33 pm

  10. The gun debate again. If you were a would be terrorist where would you plan to shoot people given the following choices-
    1) Gun show in Texas
    2) Gay nightclub in Orlando?

    Comment by pahoben — June 20, 2016 @ 8:16 am

  11. Suprised none of the Secret Service agents have yet reported a real beat down by Hillary. Hillary Clinton with bad PMS is absolutely frightening to consider.

    Comment by pahoben — June 22, 2016 @ 6:16 am

  12. For a guy who has so much right about increasing insurgent effectiveness and the idiotic, failure-seeking strategy of the US military response, you seem to have a LOT wrong in this article. Isn’t the idea that we should be more ferociously anti-Islam in our rhetoric just more “make the rubble bounce” dumbness?

    Tribal, “honor” societies have worked for thousands of years because humans fear “social death” (embarrassment, rejection) more than actual death, particularly if they are conditioned to think that way all their lives.

    Islamists define their insurgencies as honorable martyrdoms against infidels, therefore we define the conflict differently or we play into their hands. They know their people and they know how to propagandize them.

    America can portray all these Islamists as losers and threaten their social order in ways they can’t counter – with money. That hits them where they live. Assad, Saddam Hussein, Mubarak all used this technique and Trump-like grandiosity to counter Islamism for decades.

    President Obama really just doesn’t have access to that grandiosity right now because there’s no workable, consensus strategy behind it. Instead, all we get is empty bluster from conservatives and drone strikes from the White House.

    Comment by Dlaw — June 22, 2016 @ 11:33 am

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