President Obama has put a new twist on the Islamic invasion now taking place across Europe and the United States. Speaking to reporters last week during his visit to the Philippines, the president compared Syrian refugees to "tourists," saying they are no bigger a threat than people who come to sightsee and visit attractions.
Rhetoric is a powerful weapon to rally citizens to stand against enemies, whether foreign or domestic. In this war, the people are out in front of the president. According to the latest NBC News/Survey Monkey online poll, "56 percent of Americans disapprove of allowing more migrants fleeing violence in Syria and other nations into the country, while 41 percent approve and the issue divides sharply across party lines. But overwhelmingly, Americans say the U.S. and its allies are losing the war against ISIS and the poll shows bipartisan support for sending additional ground troops to fight the Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria."
Virtually every retired military officer I've seen on the networks and quoted in newspapers says only a ground force, not bombing alone, can root out and destroy ISIS' base camp inside Syria. The administration is right that the U.S. cannot do this alone, or even mainly, but neither can European nations. American expertise and leadership are essential. It is the lack of leadership by this president that is encouraging the terrorists.
From NATO's website is the principle that should be guiding President Obama: "The principle of collective defence is at the very heart of NATO's founding treaty. It remains a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance."
These attacks, as we have seen, are not only against France, England and the U.S. They are an attack on a way of life that includes religious pluralism, freedom of speech and press, equal rights for women and the right to choose one's leaders. This is why, if such principles are to endure, a collective effort is essential in defeating this latest threat.
Freedom is not a given If it were, more people would be free. As one looks around the globe one finds intolerance, bigotry, dictatorship, oppression, mass murder, imprisonment of political opponents and so many other horrors. Our way of life must constantly be defended, like a strong immune system, and healthy practices are the best defense against viruses and disease.
The Democratic Party in America is about to face a critical test that could have ramifications not only in next year's election, but also many elections to come. That party was once at the forefront in fighting communism, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. For decades, Democrats joined Republicans in believing that a strong and united foreign policy was a deterrent to aggressors. While the Vietnam War was a notable exception, the principle has a history of serving U.S. interests.
If congressional Democrats refuse to join Republicans in stronger measures to -- at a minimum -- vet the background of Syrian "refugees," and if some of them turn out to be terrorists, or are recruited and radicalized in mosques after getting here, they will pay for it dearly at the polls. The Daily Caller reports that "at least 15 U.S. 'citizen terrorists' are also legal immigrants" and "more than 70 U.S. residents have been publicly arrested and charged with conspiring to help terror networks in recent years."
President Obama promised to "fundamentally transform" America. I'm wondering if those who voted for him believed that this is what he meant.
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Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.