Lessons (for Obama) from Flight 253
Somewhere in between the highly publicized rounds of golf and strolls on the beach that President Obama is currently taking while on vacation in Hawaii, someone in his inner circle needs to tell him there’s an important lesson to be learned from the failed terrorist attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. That lesson is that our posture towards terrorists (and terrorism) matters.
Let’s begin by agreeing that every successful terrorist attack against the United States doubles as a recruitment video for rabid jihadists, eager to spill the blood of infidels and strike terror in the heart of the “great Satan.”
We saw this after the Ft. Hood shootings on November 5, when militants Islamists took to American streets the very next day:
The message that should be taken from what took place yesterday at Ft. Hood ... is that this war will be fought on American soil. That the blood of ... American military personnel will run in the very streets they were raised in.
But when a terrorist attack is publicly thwarted, as was Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to ignite the incendiary material in his underwear on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day, militants aren’t as quick to take to the streets. In fact, they hastily distance themselves from the incompetent bomber by denying his ties to al-Qaeda (although we already knew he was tied to al-Qaeda).
Citizens understand this. Thus when passengers smelled the smoke Abdulmutallab created while trying to carry out his attack, they jumped him, subdued him, and dragged him to the front of the plane. As Fox News reported on December 26, 2009:
Experts say an aggressive response from passengers has become the common response [to attempted terror attacks] since ... 9/11.
But where is Obama’s “aggressive response”? What do average everyday citizens know that he doesn’t?
For starters, they know that the militant Islamists are bent on killing Westerners, and Americans in particular. And although as recently as Sunday, December 27, NPR had not retracted its position that Abdulmutallab only had “possible ties to terrorism,” citizens aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 had enough common sense to know that Abdulmutallab was attempting a terrorist act whether NPR-type thinkers could ascertain it or not.
More importantly, they knew his actions required an overpowering reaction.