Tag Archives: terrorism

Lessons of the Manhattan Terror Attack

There are lessons to be learned from the recent terror attack in Manhattan, which resulted in eight deaths and twelve injuries.

Umar Farooq, writing in the Los Angeles Times  notes the radicalization of 29 year old Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov did not occur in his native Uzbekistan, but in the United States.  Uzbekistan is a former Soviet republic situated north of Afghanistan, and with a Muslim majority. It is rather ruthlessly ruled by Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who has suppressed extremists within his borders.

Luke Lishin, writing for Smallwars  describes Uzbekistani radicalism: “After approximately one decade spent in the shadow of the Afghan Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) claimed ownership over what appear to be increasingly frequent waves of violence focused in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and at the borders of Central Asia. While the return of the IMU as a capable fighting force may be rightly construed as a threat to the stability of Central Asia writ large, the risks are especially pronounced in the case of the region’s most populous state, Uzbekistan.”

Proof of Saipov’s recruitment to radicalism while in the U.S.  can be seen in the official complaint from the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force notes  his cellphone “contains approximately 90 videos, many of which appear to be…ISIS related propaganda. For example, the videos include…a video of what appears to be ISIS fighters killing a prisoner by running the prisoner over with a tank…” The cellphone also included “3,800 images, many of which appear to be ISIS propaganda…”

Farooq notes that this isn’t the first terrorist attack involving Uzbekistanis. “In 2015, prosecutors in New York arrested three men, including two citizens of Uzbekistan, for trying to join Islamic State and carry out attacks in the US…While that plot did not go forward, several deadly attacks in Europe have been attributed to Islamic State members from Central Asia. Prosecutors in Turkey are currently trying Abdulkadir Masharipov, a citizen of Uzbekistan who allegedly saw combat in Afghanistan and Syria, for the killing of 39 revelers at a nightclub in Istanbul on Dec. 31, 2016. Masharipov was allegedly part of a network of Islamic State members from former Soviet countries that was also responsible for a June 2016 attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport that killed 45 people.” Julia Ioffe, writing for The Atlantic, also noted that “An Uzbek drove a truck into a crowd in Stockholm in April… an Uzbek was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a New York court for providing material support to ISIS. Uzbekistan has provided some 1,500 soldiers to ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to the Soufan Group. ISIS has claimed that Uzbeks were responsible for some of its most high-profile suicide bombings in Iraq. In November 2014, the largest Uzbek faction fighting in Syria pledged its allegiance to the Taliban.”

With an abundant history of terrorism being exported from Uzbekistan, why weren’t more safeguards in place both before and after Saipov’s entry?

Saipov legally entered America ostensibly for economic reasons, under a 1990 legislative bill, HR 4165, introduced by now Senator but then Representative Charles Schumer(D-NY). The late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts)  introduced the Senate equivalent.  The Diversity Visa Program focuses on favoring entry to those from nations not well-represented in immigrant numbers.

Daniel Horowitz, the senior editor of Conservative Review notes that “1.83 million green cards were issued to nationals of predominantly Muslim countries from 2001-2015, which has made immigration from the Middle East the fastest-growing subset. This was done after 9/11; that doesn’t include the roughly 155,000 foreign students every year from those same countries. We have admitted over 59,000 legal permanent residents from Uzbekistan since 2001. Does anyone want to guess how many subscribe to Sharia supremacism, which cultivates the climate for these individuals to hate America? We can only wonder about the family members, friends, and relatives of this terrorist. Remember, former FBI Director James Comey admitted that 15 percent of those subject to terrorism investigations were refugees.”

David French’s discussion in National Review of a Ninth Circuit decision against President Trump’s travel ban noted that “The court is going to stop enforcement of a temporary pause in entry from jihadist and jihadist-torn countries (while in a state of war against jihadist terrorists)…the court [granted]…sufficient due-process rights to potential immigrants to halt enforcement of a wartime executive order motivated by the desire to protect America from the rising threat of jihadist terror. Astonishing.”

U.S. immigration policy, particularly in the era of terror, needs to focus more on the needs of America, and American  national security. Rep. Jeff Hensarling (R-Texas)  states that “Immigrants who come to America seeking economic opportunity are an asset, but unfortunately our current immigration system often places a greater emphasis on genealogy instead of an immigrant’s potential contribution to the United States.” The potential for devastating attacks must also be considered before admitting those seeking entry.

President Obama’s Failed Terrorism Policies

The New York Analysis concludes its report on President Obama’s approach to terrorism

Henry Miller, writing in Forbes,  noted: “ When Air Force Lt. Col. Robert “Buzz” Patterson describes President Clinton’s gross irresponsibility toward national security… in the fall of 1998, the watch officer in the White House Situation Room notified the president’s national security adviser, Sandy Berger, that they had located bin Laden and had “a two-hour window to strike.”…Berger picked up the phone…Amazingly, President Clinton was not available…Finally, the president accepted Berger’s call. There was discussion, there were pauses – and no decision. The president wanted to talk with his secretaries of Defense and State. He wanted to study the issue further. Berger was forced to wait. The clock was ticking. The president eventually called back. He was still indecisive. He wanted more discussion. Berger alternated between phone calls and watching the clock. The dithering continued until it was too late–and bin Laden lived to fight another day….That was not an isolated incident. On Sept. 13, 1996, while on the golf course…President Clinton had refused to take repeated urgent phone calls from Berger, who needed the president’s approval for air strikes on Iraq…He never got it. The protective cover of night lifted, and the mission was aborted.

The Results of President Obama’s policies have been disastrous

The results of President Obama’s approach have not been successful. In a Hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee in July, Nicholas J. Rasmussen Director National Counterterrorism Center testified:

“Unfortunately, the range of threats we face has become increasingly diverse and geographically expansive, as we saw with ISIL’s recent wave of attacks in Bangladesh, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey… In addition to the attacks overseas, we are no doubt reminded by the shooting in Orlando, Florida, last month that homegrown violent extremists, or HVEs, who are inspired by groups such as ISIL remain an unpredictable threat we face in the Homeland. …As we approach 15 years since 9/11, the array of terrorist actors around the globe is broader, wider, and deeper than it has been at any time since that day. ISIL’s narrative, rooted in unceasing warfare against all enemies, extends beyond the Syria-Iraq battlefield. ISIL has conducted attacks ranging in tactics and targets—the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt; the attacks in Paris at restaurants, a sports stadium, and a concert venue; the killing of hostages and Bangladeshi law enforcement officials in a café in Bangladesh; and the bombing of a crowded commercial district in Baghdad—all of which demonstrate how ISIL can capitalize on local affiliates on the ground for attacks.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney writes in the World Street Journal:

“Winning this war will require an effort of greater scale and commitment than anything we have seen since World War II, calling on every element of our national power. Defeating our enemies has been made significantly more difficult by the policies of Barack Obama… the threat from global terrorist organizations has grown… Despite Mr. Obama’s claim that ISIS has been diminished, John Brennan,Mr. Obama’s CIA director, told the Senate Intelligence Committee in June that, “Our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability or global reach.”

The president’s policies have contributed to our enemies’ advance. In his first days in office, Mr. Obama moved to take the nation off a war footing and return to the failed policies of the 1990s when terrorism was treated as a law-enforcement matter… As he released terrorists to return to the field of battle, Mr. Obama was simultaneously withdrawing American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. He calls this policy “ending wars.” Most reasonable people recognize this approach as losing wars… President Obama and Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were so concerned with pleasing Iran’s ruling mullahs that they were willing to overlook the American blood on Iranian hands and decades of Iran’s activities as the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.”

The day before President Obama took the Oath of Office in his first term, Iraq was a nation slowly moving towards a stable democracy, despite the existence or numerous challenges. ISIS barely existed. There had been no serious successful assaults on U.S. assets for a significant period of time. Since his Administration began, notes Paul Sperry in the New York Post, “America has…averaged one serious Islamic terrorist attack a year …yet he still insists the threat from radical Islam is overblown and that he’s successfully protecting the nation.”

Delusional Thinking in Foreign Affairs

There is little so unproductive, and frequently dangerous, as the power of a delusion that has taken such a strong hold that reality never has the opportunity to intrude. When government adopts delusional policies, the potential danger is enormous. When the press shares the delusion, the prospect of a reasonable discussion to allow the facts to come to light is only a faint prospect.

Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention was a dark and depressing analysis of the current status of the United States. Unfortunately, it also happened to be accurate.  While there can certainly be a debate about the best way to address the challenges facing the nation, the unsavory truth is that America has not been in worse condition since before the middle of the last century. To avoid admitting that is to ignore reality.

Abroad, the unprecedented military power of the Russian-Chinese alliance presents the greatest threat the nation has ever faced. At home, the continuing descent of the middle class, the failure of the war on poverty, crumbling infrastructure, and the stunning downturn in race relations all demand a harshly honest examination, and significant and viable responses.

Today’s review looks at foreign affairs.

It is deeply disturbing that Obama continues to maintain that the world is in generally good order.  During his remarks at last week’s Global Development Summit,   the President stated: “it is worth reminding ourselves of how lucky we are to be living in the most peaceful, most prosperous, most progressive era in human history…the world has achieved incredible advances in development and human dignity… the world has never been less violent, healthier, better educated, more tolerant, with more opportunity for more people…”  As Debra Heine of PJ Media points out, this isn’t the first time the President has delivered an extremely optimistic—and unrealistic– viewpoint. Almost exactly two years ago, he made a virtually identical statement: “The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been.”

To an extent, Mr. Obama is correct. Since the adoption of the U.S. Bill of Rights in 1787, human rights have been on an upward trajectory. Advances in science, as well as the widespread acceptance of capitalist economics, and the military power first of the British then the United States navies (which the President at times appears profoundly uncomfortable with) to safeguard commerce have provided more opportunities for more people than ever before.

But the harsh truth is that all those wonderful attributes are in immediate and significant danger of quickly being swept away, facts the White House continues to ignore. Indeed, the U.S. Administration has taken steps which actually diminish those accomplishments.

Personal safety as well as the upward thrust of human rights and gender equality has been severely blunted by Islamic extremism, which the current administration finds hard to discuss, let alone address. Headline Politics notes: “It’s an understatement to call President Obama ‘delusional’ when it comes to his ISIS non-strategy. After all, the man once referred to them as the ‘JV team’ and twice said that he had no working plan to defeat the terrorist group, after he had already introduced a plan that didn’t work.”

From the deserts of the Middle East to the Jungles of Africa, from the mountains of Afghanistan to the cities of the world, freedom from violence, and the safety of women to share equal rights have been jeopardized as never before. The evidence is extensive, growing, and omnipresent. Almost every month brings another attack resulting in mass civilian casualties, and authorities appear to be floundering in seeking a means to stop the threat.  Adherents of Sharia, which harshly speaks of denying rights to non-Muslims, Muslims who do not conform with extremist orthodoxy, and all women, are intent on spreading that philosophy across the planet.

But the Obama Administration adheres to its delusion, and the media harshly attacks those that seek to bring a realistic view to the forefront. The one medium that has provided the greatest forum for exposing atrocities against human rights, the internet, is scheduled, thanks to the President’s own initiative, to be opened to censorship by some of the very nations that are engaging in these acts.

Other problems abound.

Within the Americas, the adoption of socialist policies by several nations, most significantly Venezuela, have introduced the possibilities of famine and chaos to the New World.

The threat of another world war continues to rapidly develop. American and European progressives continue to advocate spending less on defense, based on a delusional and oft-repeated mantra that large wars are a thing of the past. Unfortunately, Russia and China have taken advantage of the delusion. Putin is moving diligently to restore the Soviet Empire, which was defeated thanks in large part to Ronald Reagan’s realpolitik approach of building a massive military. The Russian strongman has overcome the prior western lead in nuclear arms, and built a fearsome conventional armed force even as the U.S. and its allies have allowed their deterrents to substantially deteriorate.

In Asia, China has, thanks to a rate of increased spending that has surpassed anything either the USSR or the US ever did at the height of the Cold War, built a dominant military. It openly claims vast swaths of oceanic areas to which it has no legal right, and uses it massive might to overcome any international law objections.

Irrational and openly belligerent regimes, such as Iran and North Korea, move swiftly and surely, despite the existence of international agreements, to build and deploy advanced weapons of mass destruction.

A clear case can be made that the threats facing the entire planet are more severe now than they were even during the WW2 era, since, unlike Germany and Japan, the Russian-Chinese axis has geographical, industrial and population advantages that Hitler and Tojo never attained.

Tomorrow: Domestic Delusions

What Happens if America Loses in Afghanistan

The President’s decision to allow 8,400 U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan until next year is a recognition of the extraordinary harm that would result if the mistake he made in Iraq is repeated.

Mr. Obama’s total withdrawal of all U.S. troops in Iraq led to the disaster in Iraq, the rise of ISIS, general turmoil throughout the Middle East, and an escalation of worldwide terrorism. The result of withdrawing from Afghanistan while the Taliban is increasingly resurgent would be equally devastating.

While American troops could not remain in Afghanistan indefinitely, progress achieved before the current administration has been jeopardized by a series of poor decisions by the Obama Administration, including the opening of negotiations with the Taliban in violation of long-standing American policy of not negotiating with terrorists, and, against military advice, the announcement of a withdrawal date. The Obama White House has clearly renounced the goals candidate Obama announced “This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaida would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting; this is a – this is fundamental to the defense of our people.”

While the decision is appropriate, it may not be sufficient.

Off the record conversations by the New York Analysis with individuals who have been part of the U.S. effort in Afghanistan have indicated that during the Obama presidency the fight against the Taliban has been plagued by shortages of equipment, the forced layoffs of key officers, and the general reduction of funding for the U.S. military.

In 2014, notes the BBC,  Taliban leaders declared “victory” as NATO withdrew its (mostly American) forces, leaving only a residual training force. The potential to reduce the Taliban to relative impotence was eliminated in 2012, when America abandoned its policy of not negotiating with terrorists and the White House outlined a policy goal that discarded the prior Administration’s reasoning for entering into the conflict in the first place.

A Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) study  notes that the “Taliban has seized swaths of rural Afghanistan in such provinces as Helmand, Uruzgan, Nangarhar, and Kunduz. Over the past year, Taliban forces have also conducted several offensives against district and provincial capitals. In September 2015, for example, the northern city of Kunduz temporarily fell to the Taliban before being retaken by government forces.”

Clearly, the CFR notes, more than just a diminished commitment to victory by Washington is to blame for the reversal of fortunes. “[T]he effectiveness of the National [Afghan] Unity Government continues to be undermined by poor governance and internal friction between President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Abdullah Abdullah, and their supporters.”

The Taliban resurgence could be halted through greater U.S. emphasis on fulfilling original goals such as insuring fair elections, and economic development of areas beyond the Taliban’s control. But a military option—similar to the 2007 “surge” in Iraq that produced outstanding results (which were destroyed as a result of the Obama pullout) remains the most important. The 8,400 troops will not accomplish that goal.  It prevents an immediate disaster but leaves the hard decision-making to the next President.

The CFR study suggests that  “The United States could halt further reductions—or even increase—the number and type of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. These forces can train, advise, assist, and accompany Afghan forces and conduct direct-action missions; supplement Afghan forces with more intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance enablers; and increase close air support. The United States could also broaden U.S. counterterrorism legal authorities to proactively target the Taliban and Haqqani network. At the moment, U.S. forces can only target al-Qaeda and ISIL-KP operatives in Afghanistan, except in situations where extremists are plotting attacks against U.S. or other international forces or during in extremis cases where the Afghan government requests U.S. aid. The United States could also increase the authority for U.S. forces, particularly conventional forces, to train Afghans below the corps level.”

It is fully understandable that after so long the American public would be weary of the effort in Afghanistan. But the results of a Taliban resurgence should also be realized. The Taliban played a key role in the 9/11 attacks, and would commit vast new resources if power is regained in Afghanistan. The influence that would be gained in neighboring Pakistan would be dramatic. A complete takeover of that government would give the terrorists access to the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.

Obama’s Misguided Focus on Terror

The United States has been victimized by radical elements from the Middle East since the earliest days of the nation’s existence.

In 1786, notes Blake Hall writing in Forbes,  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Tripolitan ambassador to Britain, “to discuss the unprovoked attacks of the Barbary pirates on American ships. [Tripoli’s ’] Ambassador Adja’s response to their inquiries [was] … ‘that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners…’ The justification contained in this passage never mentions economic goods like oil or political issues like Israel, most notably because the first was not relevant at the time and the second did not exist. The central driver of the war was the …duty … to subjugate the infidels.”

That historic lesson is one that the current White House has ignored. Neither the recent attacks on American soil nor the stunning crimes against humanity committed by ISIS in the Middle East have done much to readjust Mr. Obama’s focus. It should not be forgotten that his administration famously declared that ISIS was a “JV team” that Americans shouldn’t be concerned with.

Instead of responding to the challenge, President Obama has used the horrific tragedies in Orlando and San Bernardino to further his partisan agenda on gun control and expound on his obsessive views on the divisions within American society. He insisted on calling the Jihadi attack on Fort Hood “workplace violence.”

The tragedy in Orlando was not the result of homegrown bigotry against gays. It was the direct result of the unbridled hatred radical Islam has against anyone with different beliefs. It is evident in the Iranian practice of hanging gays from construction cranes, and the ISIS practice of tossing gays off of rooftops.

The federal agency directly responsible for countering terror attacks within America continues to focus on political partisanship rather than its primary duty of fighting terror. The Department of Homeland Security’s leader, Jeh Johnson, continues to obsess about “right wing extremism.”

Johnson’s comments about gun control in particular should raise eyebrows. In a CBS interview, he claimed that implementing the President’s views on reducing the Second Amendment were critical to protecting homeland security, stating  “We have to face the fact that meaningful, responsible gun control has to be part of homeland security as well, given the prospect of homegrown, home-born violent extremism in this country.”

One wonders how different the outcomes of San Bernardino and Orlando would have been if one of the victims had a gun in their possession to defend themselves with.

Under the Obama Administration, the Department of Homeland Security has had a terrible record of ignoring real threats and painting innocent Americans as a problem.  It must be recalled that in 2009, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano despicably called returning U.S. veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan a threat.

The shootings in San Bernardino and Orlando were not the fault of the Second Amendment, which has been in existence since the Constitution was ratified centuries ago. Those incidents were a result of the failure to effectively confront radical Jihadis, neither with appropriate military action or with ideological counteractions.

Indeed, exactly the wrong message has been sent. The President began his Administration with an “apology tour” of the Middle East, in which he ignored the reality that Americans had no reason to apologize to those nations. Perhaps Mr. Obama was unaware that in the 1950’s, the United States defended Egypt against attempts by the United Kingdom and France to take control of the Suez Canal. Possibly the President forgot that when Muslims were being slaughtered in the Yugoslav breakup, it was the United States that rescued them.

Mr. Obama’s statements made after the San Bernardino shootings regarding American attitudes towards Muslims have been wholly incorrect. Despite the long history of hostility from the Middle East, Muslims in the United States have not experienced official bias by the government or substantial episodes of prejudice from the general population.  One can always point to an isolated act by biased individuals, but that’s all they are—isolated incidents.

Effective action has not been taken in response to the escalating threat. The failure to respond to the Benghazi attack and the lies told by President Obama and then-Secretary Clinton extended n image of weakness. Our airstrikes against ISIS continue to be inadequate to the task on hand. The White House refuses to provide the Kurds, who have been the most effective in combatting ISIS, with the types of weapons necessary for victory. His refugee admission program continues to ignore the plight of Christians, Kurds and Yazdis who have been the chief victims of terror; less than 1% of those brought to the U.S. are from those oppressed groups.

Mr. Obama must face facts. The Orlando, San Bernardino and Fort Hood tragedies were not the result of faults within American society, or the ownership of guns by private citizens.  They were another in a long history of attacks by radical Islam against the United States.

Appeasement will not stop terror

The ruthless assault on a gay nightclub in Orlando illustrates a reality that those who have advocated reducing America’s activist role in the world fail to comprehend.  The bitter hatred against the United States is not the result of anything America or Europe has done, not in the Middle East, not in Afghanistan, and not anyplace else. It is not the result of the size or reach of our formerly dominant armed forces.  It is not the result of our economic system.

Indeed, if no U.S. or European soldier had ever set foot in the Middle East, if no oil had ever been drilled, if no interaction had ever taken place at all, the West would still be despised and targeted, not for what it does, but for what it is.

The Jihadist’s fury exists solely because of their extreme abhorrence of the essential nature of Western Civilization itself: the concept of individual freedom, of live and let live, of the triumph of reason over primitive instincts.

Yes, I did say primitive instincts, and that will probably infuriate most of the nation’s academics and the self-righteous chattering classes. For far too long, those in positions of influence in government, education, and the media have declined to emphasize the unique and wonderful accomplishments of Western Civilization. In the rush to be “multicultural,” they have relegated the achievements that have produced the greatest freedom, prosperity, health, and, yes, tolerance for all faiths that humanity has ever experienced to a par equal to that of other civilizations that are marked by substantial degrees of continued political repression, economic backwardness, and secular hatred that have been sharply diminished in the West.

No, the West is not perfect.  But (and I realize that this will also anger many) it has done much, much better than the rest of the planet, despite its faults. By “Western Civilization,” I do not limit the definition to just a geographical or ethnic description. Consider the difference between North and South Korea. Between Israel and many of its neighbors. Even within the New World, nations that have followed western patterns of government and tolerance, such as the U.S. and Canada, have advanced, while those that have adopted, some recently, (like Venezuela) the philosophy (even though it started with western thinkers) of socialist government, which more closely resembles that of the rest of the world,  have declined.

The assault on women, Christians, Kurds, and gays in and by the Islamic world was not precipitated by any casus belli.  There has not been any attempted coup by women, gays, Kurds or Christian groups seeking to takeover current Moslem governments. Like clockwork, Jihadists and their apologists trot out litanies of alleged ancient wrongs. Of course, if we decided to refight ancient battles, the fighting would never stop.  America would still be fighting the British Monarchy, not to mention Germany and Japan.  More to the point, Europe would still have to be at war with the Islamic World; after all, the Islamic invasion of Europe predated the Crusades, that excuse which is trotted out by any terrorists looking to justify the latest incident of unjustified murder.

When terrible practices take place, such as the massive rape of females by ISIS, or the continued practice of slavery in certain parts of the world, it is not inappropriate for other nations, despite their own (far lesser) imperfections, to express horror at those heinous acts.

The typical response to Jihadi acts has been a study in self-delusion.  Responding, for example, to the terror assault in San Bernardino by criticizing gun ownership or falsely claiming there is a widespread bias against Moslems in America merely encourages and emboldens those who cling to any irrational justification for their actions. President Obama and Secretary Clinton inadvertently invited terror by their failure to respond to incidents such as Benghazi, and the ridiculous Oval Office comments following the San Bernardino shooting.

It is naïve to believe that all America has to do to avoid being targeted is to provide more diplomatic doubletalk. It is unrealistic to expect that Orlando-type attacks (or worse) can be avoided by appeasement.

The West is under relentless assault. Ignoring the crisis or blaming it on itself is a worthless and foolish response. If, indeed, the concepts of personal freedom are to survive, a far more viable and realistic response must be undertaken.

Obama Fails to Explain Terror Strategy

Presidents are entitled to follow their conscience on the great issues of the day, regardless of public opinion polls.  They are not, however, entitled to obscure their vision from constituents, nor is it inappropriate for Americans to be concerned that their Commander in Chief may be incapable of comprehending a key threat, or express an unwillingness to do so.

Serious questions must be raised about Mr. Obama’s views on Islamic terrorism, a phrase he refuses to use. The White House has gone to significant lengths to limit the national conversation on this deadly issue.

Yet another bizarre incident has occurred which calls into question the President’s grip on reality in dealing with Islamic extremism. MRC  reports that the White House has censored a video of French President Francois Hollande using the phrase “Islamist Terrorism” while at the Nuclear Summit in Washington, removing the comment. It is part of a pattern by the current White House in which frank conversations about Muslim extremism are ignored, and appropriate responses to incidents and general threats are not provided:

Following the murder of 13 soldiers and the wounding of 30 more at Fort Hood by Nidal Hasan, an Islamic extremist, the President labelled the incident “workplace violence.”

Following the shooting in San Bernardino, Mr. Obama went on air and delivered an odd speech criticizing Americans (based on no evidence) for being anti-Muslim and for exercising Second Amendment rights.

He refused to consider ISIS a serious threat until it became all too obvious to even the most casual observer.

He broke long-standing U.S. precedent about not negotiating with terrorists when he opened discussions with Afghanistan’s Taliban, who were instrumental in the World Trade Center attack.

He utterly failed to respond, either at the time or subsequently, to the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, and both he and Secretary Clinton intentionally lied to the American public about the cause of the incident.

He encouraged and aided in the deposing of two regional leaders, Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak, who staunchly opposed al Qaeda and ISIS.

He has supported every “Arab Spring” movement that attempted to replace comparatively moderate Middle East regimes with ones beholden to Islamic Extremists, except for the Iran’s Green Revolution, which would have allowed more moderates in Tehran’s radical regime.

He has weakened U.S. relations with Israel, America’s staunchest ally in the region.

He has refused to adequately recognize the dire plight of Christians and Yazdis in the Middle East, but has advocated admitting far more Syrian Moslems into the U.S despite the clear evidence of the problems those refugees have caused in Europe.

He has failed to provide appropriate military equipment to the Kurds, the most effective combatants against ISIS.

He continues to release terrorists from Guantanamo Bay, and indeed advocates the complete closing of that facility, despite clear evidence that many of those released return to terrorist activities.

He chose to speak at a Baltimore Mosque said to have ties to extremists.

The President chose to prematurely withdraw American troops from Iraq, despite significant warnings from his own cabinet members that doing so would create the conditions for extremism to thrive.  Indeed, that action created the environment which brought ISIS to power. A similar action is taking place in Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama’s concept that admitting to the existence of “Islamic Extremism” is somehow a bigoted act cannot be supported by any evidence. The Muslim Issue  reports that over 90 percent of the 11 million Muslims who perished by violence since 1948 were killed by fellow Muslims. The Jewish Virtual Library  notes that Muslims  themselves were the chief victims of attacks by Islamic extremists.In 2014, a total of 13,463 terrorist attacks occurred worldwide, resulting in more than 32,700 deaths and more than 34,700 injuries. In addition, more than 9,400 people were kidnapped or taken hostage…Although terrorist attacks took place in 95 countries in 2014, … 78% of all fatalities due to terrorist attacks took place in five countries (Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria).”

President Obama has not provided any evidence, nor in fact does any exist, that identifying Islamic Extremism as a key threat to the American people and taking forceful steps to respond is in any way biased or inappropriate. The steps the White House has taken are, for the most part, inadequate and obviously failing.

The Crisis that the White House Pretends Doesn’t Exist

From one end of the globe to the other, powers overtly unfriendly to the United States and its allies are substantially and rapidly building their military might.  It is a clear indication that the White House policy of unilateral reduction in defense spending combined with appeasement diplomacy has been a dismal failure.

North Korea has placed its nuclear arsenal on “standby,” and Kim Jong Un has ordered his substantial armed forces into a “pre-emptive attack mode,” according to reports by the Korean Central News Agency first as reported by the Financial Times.

In February, the White House stated, in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear threat,  that:

“This is a highly provocative act that, following its December 12 ballistic missile launch, undermines regional stability, violates North Korea’s obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation.  North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region…The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community.  The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies. We will strengthen close coordination with allies and partners and work with our Six-Party partners, the United Nations Security Council, and other UN member states to pursue firm action.”

The President’s analysis of the situation was correct, and his plans to increase cooperation with regional allies is appropriate.  However, there is a problem with the approach:  The United States lacks the actual power-in-being to actually address the crisis.  The slashing of the defense budget during the course of the Obama Administration, and the Oval Office decision not to have an armed forces capable of fighting a two-front war renders his response little more than words.  Sanctions have failed to halt North Korea’s belligerence or nuclear progress in the past and there is no reason to assume they will do so in the future.

The President speaks of a “pivot” to Asia, which if it were real, could give Pyongyang pause.  But the pivot is just verbiage with nothing much behind it.  The diminished U.S. Navy, at less than half the strength it posed in 1990 and at its smallest level since World War I, doesn’t intimidate North Korea which rests with the Chinese sphere of influence.  China already has more submarines than the U.S., along with greater regional forces and a growing bluewater fleet that will outnumber America’s by 2020.

There is another factor, as well.  The White House’s practice of tough words followed by a lack of action demonstrates that it lacks the willpower to follow through. Think of the abandoned Red Line in Syria. The failure to avenge the Benghazi attack. The weak response to Russia’s Ukrainian invasion. The lack of action in response to Moscow’s growing presence in the Western Hemisphere.  The failure to even lodge a diplomatic protest in response to Beijing’s invasion of the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone.

On the other side of the Eurasian landmass, Iran has conducted  number of forbidden ballistic missile tests, openly making  mockery of the nuclear weapons agreement before the ink has even dried on the document.  The Iranians are fully aware that North Korea cut a deal with President Clinton in the 1990’s in which $4 billion in aid was provided in response to Pyongyang’s solemn promise not to build nukes.  President Clinton did nothing in response to the violation, just as President Obama has no credible plans to respond to Tehran’s violation.

Indeed, Mr. Obama’s response to military provocations has been more appeasement. His response to Russia’s return to cold war era bases in Cuba was, strangely, to restore diplomatic relations with Havana.  He has done nothing in response to Moscow’s move to use Nicaragua as a refueling base for its nuclear Tupolev bombers.

The President doesn’t even discuss the fact that Russia, after signing the New Start treaty in 2009, now, for the first time in history, has become the world’s preeminent nuclear power. The skyrocketing growth of China’s military is also a non-topic in the Oval office.

Mr. Obama is well known for his absolute refusal to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism.” Unfortunately, his flight from reality also includes every threat to the safety of the United States, as well.  In the past, some presidents have emphasized national security more than others.  However, we have never before had a Commander in Chief who completely neglects the entire topic.

Does Obama have Hidden Goals for Cuba and Guantanamo?

Did the President make a secret deal with Havana to first close the Guantanamo Bay prison, then return the entire naval base to Cuba?

By now, it’s obvious that Mr. Obama has difficulty even saying “Islamic terrorism.”  But his dangerously inept policies are far worse than mere semantics.  There continues to be no viable reason why the Guantanamo facility, off American shores and therefore keeping U.S. citizens safe from attempted attacks to free the hazardous inmates, should be closed. There is equally no viable reason for the President to open relations with the Castro regime when it continues to oppress its own population, sponsor terrorism abroad, and allow the Russian Navy to use the island nation’s facilities. In April 2015, the President withdrew the terror-sponsor designation from Cuba, despite Havana’s ongoing offenses.

It’s long past time to ask the President very difficult questions concerning his bizarre stance on terrorism, and his views on relations with Cuba.

The President’s actions in prematurely withdrawing from Iraq, and encouraging the various Moslem Brotherhood-supported “Arab Spring” movements which expanded the influence of terrorists, were terrible mistakes. His refusal to respond to the Benghazi attack or to seriously assault ISIS call into question whether he takes the terrorist threat seriously at all. Similarly, his announcement of a withdrawal date from Afghanistan repeats the mistake he made in Iraq.

The White House response to the Paris attacks was ridiculous. Jack Kelly, writing in realclearpolitics, notes: When 44 world leaders joined 1.6 million Parisians to condemn Islamist terror… Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were watching football. Secretary of State John Kerry was in India (where it’s been unseasonably cold), to give a speech on global warming. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris but didn’t attend because he was in “high-level meetings,” aides said. With whom? Nearly every prominent French official was at the rally.

Mr. Obama’s Oval Office remarks in response to the San Bernardino attack, falsely claiming wide-scale bias against Moslems and calling for more domestic gun control, were astounding. USNews wrote: “The shooters in San Bernardino were no more deterred by the gun control laws on the books when they modified the weapons they used than they were by the prohibition on the construction and use of the pipe bombs which, in this case at least, were fortunately duds. He doesn’t understand, and as a consequence, he’s fighting the wrong war.”

A House Armed Services Committee release reports that “Section 1222 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY16 require[d] the Administration to deliver a strategy for the Middle East and countering violent extremism no later than February 15, 2016.  It requires the Administration to lay out a number of elements needed to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda, including a description of the role the U.S. military will play in such a strategy, a description of the coalition needed to carry out the strategy, and an assessment of efforts to disrupt foreign fighters traveling to Syria and Iraq. The White House has failed to comply.  Reacting to the the Administration’s failure to submit the strategy, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following statement: ‘Unsurprisingly the Administration cannot articulate a strategy for countering violent extremists in the Middle East.  Time and again, the President has told us his strategy to defeat extremist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda is well underway; yet, months after the legal requirement was established, his Administration cannot deliver that strategy to Congress.  I fear the President’s failure to deliver this report says far more about the state of his strategy to defeat terrorists than any empty reassurance he may offer from the podium.”

Information first obtained by the Washington Free Beacon indicates that the Presidents’ plan to close the Guantanamo Bay facility may force the Pentagon to release suspected terrorists.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Carter, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Ca) notes the high rate of recidivism of terrorist prisoners already released from Guantanamo Bay, and questions the disposition of future captured terrorists.

The President’s action are even raising eyebrows among his staunchest supporters. Several New York Democrats, led by Senator Charles Schumer, have been outraged by Mr. Obama’s move to cut anti-terror funds from America’s top target of Islamic extremists, New York City.

Mr. Obama has provided little explanation for its policy, or lack thereof, on terrorism. Nor has there been a convincing explanation about its stance towards Guantanamo Bay in particular, or Cuba in general. The hard questions need to be asked. Are the two issues related?

Syrian refugees need to be properly vetted

 

The New York Analysis is pleased to present this guest editorial by Judge John H. Wilson, who recently retired from the Bronx/Brooklyn Criminal Court Bench

In February of this year, I moved to North Dakota from New York City, where I had resided for most of my life.  Besides the usual culture shock one would expect, the real surprise came when I first visited the North Dakota state capitol.

I was amazed at the lack of security. No checkpoints, no armed guards, not even unarmed security patrols. I took this as a testament to the peace and safety of my adopted home.

You see, I was in New York City on September 11, 2001, specifically at my home in the Bronx. That day, my wife lost her best friend, and I nearly lost my brother and two other close friends when Islamic terrorists drove commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center.  My other brother, a now-retired Lieutenant with the NYPD, spent months searching the pile of rubble that had been the Twin Towers, looking for the body parts of those murdered that terrible day.

Thus, you can understand my being surprised at the utter lack of security I found at the North Dakota State Capitol.  In New York, I routinely saw police officers and soldiers on the streets of Manhattan, dressed in riot gear, flak vests, and carrying automatic rifles.

Like much of the Midwest, North Dakota is a friendly place, full of people who trust to the good will of their fellow human beings.  I was therefore not terribly surprised to learn that North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple had not immediately joined the other governors who told the federal government that they would not accept Syrian refugees. Though his position was interpreted as a “no” to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in North Dakota, his position was actually more nuanced.  In reality, the governor stated that he would “urge President Barack Obama to halt resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. until security and screening measures can be reviewed.”

In fact, at last count, 31 states, with both Republican and Democratic governors, have stated their intention to reject Syrian refugees.

President Obama has claimed the moral high ground on this issue, comparing the refugees from Syrian to the Pilgrims, calling them “men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families.”    In pointed language, the President has also criticized Republicans for being “scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion. At first they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.”

New York City learned the hard way not to trust the federal government and its supposed vetting processes. The September 11 hijackers were all present in America on student, tourist or business visas.   But it wasn’t until AFTER the 911 attacks that the federal government significantly tightened its requirements for the issuance of a visa,   ineffectively, and almost literally, closing the barn door after the cows had escaped.

Since 911, The New York Police Department handles its own security on behalf of New York City.  This includes the establishment of an overseas program in 2003, under which New York City Police Officers are stationed in various hotspots around the globe.  As then Commissioner Ray Kelly stated, ““The terrorists knew no national boundaries. Why should the New York City police?”

The NYPD cooperates with the federal authorities.  But they also follow Ronald Reagan’s famous maxim – trust, but verify.

There can be no doubt that as President Obama stated, many of these refugees are simply seeking a better life. But at the same time, it is equally true that many are dangerous.   In fact, the debate has only been sharpened by the revelation that one of the recent Paris terror attack participants was a “Syrian refugee.”

Until effective measures can put into place to distinguish refugees from terrorists, is it so unreasonable for the governors of 31 states to not trust the safety of their citizens to a federal government that has a different agenda?