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April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
January 6, 2010
/ 20 Teves 5770
The War on Terror Is A War, Not A Police Action
Recently I read what I believe to be the very best column I've seen
criticizing President Obama's attitude and strategy in the war against
Islamic terrorism. The column was written by Charles Krauthammer and
titled "Obama's dangerous denial " I will be making references to his arguments,
but I also suggest you read the entire column, which you can get by clicking here.
In 2004, I supported George W. Bush for a second term as president because
I believed that the most important issue facing the United States was the
threat posed by Islamic terrorism, a life or death issue. Even though I
did not agree with President Bush on a single domestic issue, I
nevertheless supported him because I believed the Democratic candidate,
John Kerry, took positions that were not adequate for the struggle ahead.
Moreover, I believed the Democratic Party was not up to the responsibility
to protect America and its allies from those in al-Qaeda and the Taliban
who had made clear they were committed to murdering every Christian, Jew
and Hindu who refused to convert to Islam or pay tribute. I have no
regrets in having taken that position.
When the choices for President were presented in 2008, the candidates
being Barack Obama and John McCain, I chose to support Barack Obama, who
called me on the telephone to say that if I had any questions on his
positions on different issues, he was ready to answer them. I told him
that he did not have to worry about me and the decision I would be
announcing. He immediately asked would I go to Florida and campaign for
him in the large Jewish community in that state. I said I would and I
did. I also campaigned for him in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The
Jewish vote for Barack Obama was 75 percent of the votes cast by Jews in
the U.S., the second highest ethnic and racial vote cast, the first being
that of African-Americans.
I hasten to add the size of the Jewish support had nothing to do with me.
The Jewish community is overwhelmingly liberal and could not abide the
thought of domestic issues being ill-served by another Republican
administration. I discovered when I went to Florida, Pennsylvania and New
Jersey that those Jewish communities had already made up their mind and
needed no sales pitch from me.
I told this to Senator Obama at the Alfred E. Smith dinner where he
appeared with Senator John McCain shortly before the election. He was
generous in his praise of my efforts on his behalf, but I knew those
efforts were not needed to secure his victory.
Parenthetically, I should note the last time I spoke with the President
was when he called me at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital where I stayed
for five weeks in the intensive care unit recovering from the effects of a
quadruple bypass and complications. I appreciated the call, as I did a
similar call from former President Bill Clinton. Former President George
W. Bush did not call. I told President Obama that his call would
undoubtedly result in an upgrading of my room. We did not discuss affairs
Now to the Krauthammer column. He opens with a knockout punch, quoting
Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano saying "the system worked"
when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian Muslim terrorist, was
apparently used by al-Qaeda in an attempt to bring down an American
airliner with 288 people on board, over Detroit. I won't cite all of the
facts as to why the system, in fact, did not work and how lucky we were
that a Dutch passenger tackled and restrained the terrorist. Why haven't
we honored that brave civilian? And why haven't we publicly shown
appreciation to the two police officers who risked their lives to take
down the Fort Hood Muslim terrorist, Major Nidal Hasan, before he could
kill and maim others?
Krauthammer makes a telling point when he writes "The reason the country
is uneasy about the Obama administration's response to this attack is a
distinct sense of not just incompetence but incomprehension. From the
very beginning, President Obama has relentlessly tried to downplay and
deny the nature of the terrorist threat we continue to face. Napolitano
renames terrorism 'man-caused disasters.' Obama goes abroad and pledges
to cleanse America of its post-9/11 counterterrorist sins. Hence,
Guantanamo will close. CIA interrogators will face a special prosecutor,
and Khalid Sheik Mohammed will bask in a civilian trial in New York - a
trifecta of political correctness and image management."
Krauthammer goes on to point out that the President has made a point of
banishing the phrase "war on terror." The President's initial statements
following the act of terrorism over Detroit were tepid, referring, as
Krauthammer notes, to Abdulmutallab as "an isolated extremist." On the
third day, apparently recognizing the inadequacy of his earlier comments,
he referred to the incident as potentially "catastrophic," and the lack of
adequate security measures as "systemic." In my opinion, after the
President finally recognized the gravity of the situation he should have
flown home from his vacation in Hawaii.
Krauthammer ended his column with another knockout punch, writing, "Any
government can through laxity let someone slip through the cracks. But a
government that refuses to admit that we are at war, indeed, refuses even
to name the enemy - jihadist is a word banished from the Obama lexicon -
turns laxity into a governing philosophy."
Mr. President, I hope you read the Krauthammer column. It is not too late
for you to recover from the setbacks you suffered in the year just ended.
Your commitment to battling Islamic terrorism led by al Qaeda which has a
presence in an estimated 62 countries must be believably reaffirmed, with
both words and deeds. You should not hesitate to denounce and take
appropriate diplomatic, economic and military action to punish those
states that permit jihadists to flourish and train on their soil and
ultimately attack the U.S. Also, reverse your position on Guantanamo and
try enemy combatants in military courts. Moreover, it is not enough to
talk about energy independence. We should be told by your Energy
Secretary what progress has been made on a quarterly basis with a press
conference for follow-up questions.
Democrats have been seen as inadequate in the area of national security.
If that perception continues or grows, we will see not only the normal
loss expected in a bi-annual congressional election, but a rout with the
Republicans taking both Houses in November of this year.
Mr. President, there is a war on, not a police action. Tell the American
people and the world that we are at war so we can muster all our resources
to fight it and win.
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© 2009, Ed Koch
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