by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest critique of the Obama administration’s foreign policy at National Review Online carries the headline “Confederacy of Dunces?” It’s clear from the article that Hanson would omit the question mark.
The military effort against the Islamic State hinges on a successful threefold approach involving intelligence, homeland security, and diplomacy. Unfortunately, the Obama administration does not have much past history in these areas to warrant confidence.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper just announced that the U.S. has underestimated the Islamic State. Clapper was probably correct, if unwise in apprising the world of U.S. incompetence. But he left out of his apologia any mention of why the U.S. has continuously downplayed the dangers of radical Islam. The answer is largely found among the Obama team, of which Clapper is a key part, and which has constructed its assessments to fit preconceived political directives.
The overriding belief of the Obama administration is that there is not really a radical Islamic movement that seeks to destroy the present nation-state order in the Middle East, form some sort of caliphate out of the mess, and then marshal the region’s population and resources to attack the West.
Clapper himself usually adheres to that belief. He once described the radical Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as largely secular. His veracity and his judgment are equally suspect. Under oath before Congress, he once insisted that the NSA did not gather information on ordinary Americans — a flat-out lie (or, as he put it, the “least untruthful” answer he was in a position to give). He also once assured us that Moammar Qaddafi would survive in Libya. …
… If our intelligence grandees have been naïve about the dangers of radical Islam, have we at least enjoyed competent Homeland Security directors? Again, there is reason to worry. Former director Janet Napolitano once urged that we move away from using the word “terrorism” and the supposedly accompanying “politics of fear” to prefer instead “man-caused disasters.” That gullibility reflected an ongoing administration campaign of euphemisms among copycat bureaucrats, from “workplace violence” to “overseas contingency operations.”