Secretary of State John Kerry, perfectly expressing the Obama administration's confusion and cluelessness, declared on Tuesday:
"There's something different about what happened from Charlie Hebdo, and I think everybody would feel that. There was a sort of particularized focus and perhaps even a legitimacy in terms of - not a legitimacy, but a rationale that you could attach yourself to somehow and say, OK, they're really angry because of this and that. This Friday was absolutely indiscriminate. It wasn't to aggrieve one particular sense of wrong. It was to terrorize people."
This is moral idiocy of the worst type. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie aptly bashed Kerry's remarks as "offensive and truly stupid." Jeb Bush tweeted, "Clinton wants us to 'empathize' with terrorists. Kerry sees 'rationale.' Wrong. This is a barbaric ideology." At a campaign event, Bush got fired up, reading Kerry's remarks and declaring, "There is no rationale for barbaric Islamic fundamentalists who want to destroy Western civilization."
The "rationale" for killing the journalists and the Jews in the kosher market (whom the president insisted were victims of "random" violence) is precisely the same as those who slaughtered at least 129 people in Paris last week. The idea that there is some rational grievance against the West (e.g. mockery of Islam) that fuels anti-Western jihadist terror is at the root of much of the administration's flawed and dangerous thinking.
Kerry takes his cue from his boss. Tuesday evening President Barack Obama, under assault from Democrats and Republicans for his failing policy and his unpresidential demeanor, excoriated Republicans, saying, "I cannot think of a more potent recruitment tool for ISIL [the Islamic State] than some of the rhetoric that's coming out of here during the course of this debate." No, Mr. President, whatever fault we find with rhetoric over refugees and other matters, it influences the jihadists not at all. They do not kill us because we insult them; they kill us because we are non-believers, the Big Satan.
No, the terrorists won't leave us alone if we merely "respect" their prophet. No, Iran won't end its ambition to destroy the West if we show the regime respect or distance ourselves from Israel. No, the jihadists are not motivated to strike us because of conditions at the Guantanamo Bay prison or because we used enhanced interrogation techniques. They seek our destruction because we are non-believers. If we do not grasp this, we will not take the threat seriously, and instead will seek to be as inoffensive as we can, which entails unilaterally disarming or turning on our allies. That does not engender goodwill; it promotes contempt for the West and encourages the Islamic fundamentalists to commit more and more brazen acts of destruction.
One wonders whether the president did not attend the ceremonies in France, as other Western leaders did, after the Charlie Hebdo murders because he imagined there was some "rationale" for the violence. Perhaps he is so quick to condemn Israel for defensive measures that inevitably kill civilian Palestinians or to insist "both sides" have to reduce violence (when it is Palestinians stabbing, shooting and driving over innocent Israelis) because he thinks there is a "rationale" for Palestinians' desire to drive Israel into the sea. No wonder the president was so quick to latch onto the phony explanation for the murder of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya (the anti-Muhammad video made them do it). He is forever looking for a reason, an excuse for the Islamic fundamentalists' behavior, when the "rationale" is staring us in the face.
The criticism of Kerry after his remarks in France was swift and fierce. "There was absolutely nothing legitimate or rational about the slaughter of 10 newspaper staff and two police officers in Paris earlier this year," declared House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif. "Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are pillars of our free world, and we can never allow radical Islamists to use these fundamental rights to justify their evil acts." He added, "Secretary Kerry is plain wrong and needs to correct the record."
The administration's confusion offends our moral sensibilities, as it blames victims for the monstrous acts of terror and infantilizes the terrorists. It also causes the administration to misread again and again our enemies' ambitions (they just have "regional" interests, the administration asserted), to hamstring our own efforts to eradicate them (more boots on the ground will only make them mad!) and to convince our enemies that we do not have the will to defend our values and our lives.
Obama and his secretaries of state past and present are precisely the wrong people to hold power at precisely the wrong time. We need resolute, clear and unapologetic leadership; we won't get it from this crowd.
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