President Obama is Right
The President is right to be unmoved by the bombings in Brussels this week. He was right to remain in Cuba, to fulfill his itinerary as planned; to attend the baseball game, to go to Argentina, to dance the tango.
There is little to fear in the machinations of the jihadists in Belgium, and France. There is little to fear in the machinations of those lost people wherever they are. In Europe, in the Middle East, here in our own country.
The quest of those fighters to have their own state was always a futile quest, and that remains the case. They have succeeded only in creating anarchy. They only serve their own vanity. There is no Islamic Caliphate, not in any form. The Caliphate ended over one thousand years ago, Islam was too large then, and is much too large now; multicultural, multinational, to ever be governed by a single entity. Islam is not Arabia, and we should not dignify the pretenses of those fighters in Syria and Iraq by pretending that they are anything more than murderous opportunists.
President Obama was right to call them a JV squad. He has taken a lot of criticism for that, but he was right. A couple of years into their war, and they are falling apart after having achieved none of their objectives. All that they have to boast of is the killing and harming of thousands of people, and the destruction of ancient monuments that spoke of our collective heritage.
President Roosevelt was right when he said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. We do those killers too much credit by calling them terrorists and pretending that they have the smallest hope of achieving their ends.
What is true, what has always been and will always be true, a determined person can develop the means and find the opportunity to attack their neighbors; to attack them with stones, and knives, and guns, and bombs. If that person does not care if they live or die in the trying; it is that much easier for them, and they can do much more harm.
No matter how much policing we do, this will always be true. We may catch some people before they act, but we will not catch them all. We will catch the dumb ones; but only when we are being smart. The smart ones will catch us when we are dumb. That is the nature of this kind of conflict. It will not change, but neither can this kind of conflict change anything. It cannot overthrow our government, it cannot end international trade, it cannot change our way of life; unless we allow it to.
We can allow it to change our way of life. We could give in to fear and upend our social system. That would be a ridiculous capitulation.
We should allow it to change our way life insofar as it relates to the kinds of relationships we have with the countries within which these jihadists movements are cropping up.
We should not prop up dictatorships.
We should not sell them arms.
We should ensure that economic aid reaches the people on the street.
We should not support theocracies.
We should not buy their oil, we should get off of fossil fuels altogether.
We should open up their markets, give them access to our goods.
We should promote education, and democracy, foster its development, not impose it on a people who are not ready.
If we cannot find partners in this among those governments, we should give them nothing.
Whatever the case might be, we should not allow a group of violent extremists to influence our laws and policies in such a way that undermines our international leadership, and the commitments to human rights we have made under international law. If we do that, then we have lost.