Of all the things that President Obama has announced during the course of his administration, trying to reshape the narrative relating to the war against radical Islam may prove to be the most damaging to the country and, indeed, the world.
The President’s June 2009 Cairo University speech, and actions such as the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, has emboldened the radicals. At one level, however, it is as the President says it is, a “new beginning,” but maybe not the start he and his advisors wanted. They have unwittingly or, depending on your point of view, recklessly prolonged the conflict well beyond his presidency.
While Obama and his supporters proclaimed a win, the radical Islamists, sensing a great deal of weakness and opportunity, prepared for the long game. The radicals had a clear example of what Fidel Castro meant when, in May 2001 during a trip to Iran, Syria, and Libya, he told the mullahs:
“Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees. The U.S. regime is very weak, and we are witnessing this weakness from close up.”
A great deal has transpired since 09.11.01. Until the Obama team rolled into town, things were improving. There were many more victories than mistakes after 09.11. The country was safer because President George Bush and his team took the battle to the enemy. By taking on the Taliban in Afghanistan, and later liberating Iraq, the American eagle perched itself smack in the middle of the action and, more importantly, was keeping Iran in check.
If we are to believe even 1/10 of what radicalized Muslims preach, this next phase in the global war against radical Islam will make Americans very uncomfortable because they plan to unleash – unless stopped – a protracted campaign that includes psychological warfare unlike anything Americans born after the end of the Cold War have ever seen.
What happened in Oklahoma last week – the beheading of an American by a radicalized jihadist – will be part of that campaign. The killer, Mr. Alton Nolen, appears to have been a self-proclaimed Muslim who self radicalized, but who may have been targeted for recruitment by people with direct Al-Qaeda ties. Even if it turns out that Nolen was what experts call a lone wolf, his actions will be exploited for the cause by radicalized Muslims.
The radical Islamists declared war on the West, more specifically on the United States, on November 4, 1979. And, if we allow them to do so, they will keep this irrational struggle moving forward for decades to come. By the way, it’s irrational because they are going to ultimately lose and become but another footnote in world history.
Only the United States, with the full power and might of our Armed Forces, backed with other measures including diplomacy and local support (if necessary), can effectively deal with radicalized Muslim groups. A coalition is aspirational and is putting U.S. security at risk. The United States can lead, alone, because it can. I wish this new generation of political leaders – on both sides of the aisle – would make it so.
P.S., if you’re too young to recall the significance of November 4, 1979, the first day of a 444 day crisis during the Jimmy Carter administration involving radicalized Islamists, watch this video (a newscast that also happens to be a good example of what journalism used to be like):