Commentary Magazine


Contentions

The Enemy We Dare Not Name

Stephen Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn explain the Obama administration’s now-predictable rhetoric, which runs through the series of jihadist attacks that have occurred on its watch — Fort Hood, the Christmas Day bombing attempt, and the Times Square bombing attempt — or rather, the rhetoric that is conspicuously absent:

So, three attacks in six months, by attackers with connections to the global jihadist network—connections that administration officials have gone out of their way to diminish. The most striking thing about all three attacks is not what we heard, but what we haven’t heard. There has been very little talk about the global war that the Obama administration sometimes acknowledges we are fighting and virtually nothing about what motivates our enemy: radical Islam.

This is no accident. Janet Napolitano never used the word “terrorism” in her first appearance before Congress as secretary-designate of Homeland Security on January 15, 2009. Shortly thereafter, the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration had dropped the phrase “Global War on Terror” in favor of “Overseas Contingency Operations.” And just last month, we learned that the White House’s forthcoming National Security Strategy would not use religious words such as “jihad” and “Islamic extremism.” When asked why she did not utter the word “terrorism”  in the course of her testimony, Napolitano explained that she used “man-caused disaster” instead to avoid “the politics of fear.”

It is worth asking why. One gets the impression that somehow the administration thinks it’s a problem to engage in a multi-pronged outreach to the “Muslim World” (we can question the utility of that, but they imagine it’s helpful) and to identify the actual enemy — which is a segment of that world, namely radical jihadists who just so happen to terrorize and kill a great many other Muslims. It is perhaps out of condescension that the Obama brain trust thinks the distinction will be lost on the worldwide Muslim audience. Therefore, we can’t use the “I” word or the “M” word except in praise.

Identifying the enemy by name also makes it difficult to adhere to the criminal-justice model that the Obama team and its lefty lawyers plainly adore. If there is a network of ideologically motivated, non-state terrorists, then are public trials and dispensing Miranda rights really the way to go? Well, if it’s just a “lone wolf,” perhaps the ordinary justice system can be employed. Or better yet, if it is a mentally unstable patient (don’t forget the liberal explanations du jour: Major Hasan was suffering pre-deployment stress syndrome, and Shahzad was a foreclosure victim), we can chalk this up to American war-fighting or capitalism.

The result is the use, or attempted use, of measures ill-suited to the war against Islamic fanatics — like giving the 9/11 ringleader a public trial or automatically Mirandizing bombers. And it prevents institutions, including the Army, from clueing into the telltale signs of Islamic radicalization that might pose a threat. Moreover, it conveys to the enemy and to our allies (including many in the “Muslim World”) that we are confused, afraid, and unfocused. If this is a war against American civilization, our failure to explain and defend ourselves and to identify the threat only emboldens the radical jihadists. Obama’s inability to identify the enemy is at bottom a refusal to defend American civilization, which, itself, is under attack. That may be beyond the reach of the president, who never tires of apologizing for America.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.