Democrats are having a problem responding to the ISIS attack on Paris. As Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker observed, “a difference of opinion [among the Democrat candidates during their last debate] fizzled into agreement about platitudes.” Rather than serving as a wake-up call to the West and especially to the United States, the three Democratic candidates offered only meaningless bromides.
The prime example is the following exchange betweer moderator John Dickerson and Hillary Clinton, as pointed out by Jim Geraghty:
Marco Rubio, also running for president, said that this attack showed — in– the attack in Paris showed that we are at war with radical Islam. Do you agree with that characterization, radical Islam?
I don’t think we’re at war with Islam. I don’t think we at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists who have–
Just to interrupt, he — he didn’t say all Muslims. He just said radical Islam. Is that a phrase you don’t –
In other words, the Democrats’ front-runner for the nomination seems unable to acknowledge the possibility that the United States and the West are at war with radical Islam. One has only to compare their response to that of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, or President Francois Hollande, both of whom now realize that the recent ISIS attacks on their country have changed everything. Does ISIS really have to succeed in a similar attack on the U.S. for the Democratic candidates to comprehend the seriousness of the current situation?
Suddenly, Democrats like Hillary Clinton are favorably quoting George W. Bush, who famously argued that we are not at war with Islam, and that the peace-loving religion was hijacked by extremists.
Perhaps Obama and his administration could learn a lesson from the French New Leftists of 1968, who turned into vigorous anti-totalitarians and opponents of the Soviet Union. By the 1970s, they opposed those who favored détente with the Soviet empire. Adam Gopnik quotes the late “new philosophers” who came out of the ’68 French New Left and, referring to Andre Glucksmann who passed away a week ago, writes that “Glucksmann’s view, of an unappeasable war between modernity and a neo-medieval appetite for authority and absolute religious warfare, today must be more persuasive to more Parisians than it ever has been before.”
At Glucksmann’s funeral, tributes were made to him by old comrades, including Daniel Cohn-Bendit (once known as “Danny the Red,”) and author Pascal Bruckner, who wrote to Gopnik:
France is tensed: we knew it would happen at a larger scale than Charlie [Hebdo]. And it could be still bigger the next time. We have to suspend constitutional rights for the jihadists. As you did for the Patriot Act.
It is hardly surprising that Ayaan Hirsi Ali understands this. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, she argues in a similar fashion that the United States must engage in a battle of ideas such as it carried out during the early Cold War with the Soviet Union. This includes addressing what she calls “the infrastructure of indoctrination,” including mosques, books, and all proselyting material, while promoting “the superiority of liberal ideas.” And most importantly, she insists that Europe only admit to its countries those Muslims who are truly moderate, and who “are committed to adopt European values and to reject precisely the Islamist politics that makes them vulnerable to the siren song of the caliphate.”
That, of course, should be U.S. policy too. But we already know the response of the liberals and the left — they would condemn such a policy as Islamaphobia that would turn Muslims against us, as if there are already not millions of jihadists already committed to our destruction.
Instead, the Democrats and their liberal intellectual pundits will focus on condemning Republican candidates like Marco Rubio, who in his own recent comments has made it clear that he understands the stakes and the necessity to act against the Islamists in as firm a way as possible.
We are already at war, unfortunately something our current leaders are not aware of or are too cowardly to admit. The first step they must take is to name the enemy, so that they can develop a strategy to defeat them. Imagine if once the U.S. had entered World War II, FDR had asked the Americans to rally for victory without saying anything about the need to defeat the Nazis and their ideology. Indeed, the U.S. government showed the troops and the public the film series “Why We Fight,” which addressed the nature of the Nazi system and how it was fundamentally opposed to the principles for which the United States stood
What if Roosevelt had instead offered the view that first we had to understand and sympathize with what made the Nazis act as they did, as Hillary Clinton has said we must do with our current Islamist foes?
The hour is short. Unless we demand leadership from our representatives in the executive branch and Congress, the type of attack ISIS waged on Paris will take place on our shores.