By Jeffrey Hutchins, 2015
As soon as the first big snowstorm of 2015 hit, there were people who said it is proof that “global warming” is a hoax. Of course, it’s no such thing. One storm, one cold spell, even one lasting many days, or even one brutal winter does not overturn a mountain of evidence that the globe’s climate is changing and generally growing warmer.
And so it is with terrorist attacks. President Obama has said that the Islamic State – Daesh, if you will – is “being contained” and has been “degraded.” Many conservatives, and virtually all the Republican presidential candidates have said that in light of recent Daesh violence, Obama’s remarks prove he is: a) “uninformed,” b) “weak,” c) “deluded,” and d) “dangerous.”
But what if Obama is none of those? What if he’s right?
As an aside, let me scoff at the notion that this president, or any president, who is briefed daily by our military leaders, our intelligence community (CIA, FBI, DIA, etc.), the State Department, and diplomats from around the world is “uninformed” or less informed on the facts than, say, Ben Carson or Ted Cruz. I am certain that Mr. Obama is quite well informed about everything that is known about Daesh and the situations in the Middle East. That is not to say his analysis or his judgment about those facts is infallible, but he has more facts available to him than all the Republican candidates combined. He is hardly “uninformed.”
So when the president said that Daesh is “being contained,” I take him at his word, and a few horrible, brutal, and sadly successful terrorist attacks do not prove otherwise.
There have always been and will always be people who are paranoid, angry, sick, scared, easily manipulated, or just plain evil who are ready and willing to commit horrendous acts in the name of some “cause” or as retribution for some perceived injustice done to them or their tribe. Whenever their tribe – whether it is people of the same religion or nationality or ethnic group or alliance of political outsiders – is threatened, they will react, sometimes as lone wolves, with unspeakable violence. A very small group of individuals can, with today’s technology and mass transportation, wreak terrible damage.
There is abundant evidence that the group of a dozen or so terrorists who killed over 130 people in Paris were barely connected to Daesh. Only one or two of them had been in direct contact with Daesh. Family members said that most of the terrorists never went to the mosque and were not at all religious. Nearly all of them had long criminal histories. In other words, they were not the core of Daesh. They were sociopathic outlaws who found in Daesh an outlet for their sadistic tendencies.
When groups like Daesh are under stress, losing battle after battle, they tend to strike out, to make it appear as if they are stronger than they really are. These behaviors are intended to mask the reality that they are in trouble, that they are losing.
I believe President Obama told the truth when he said Daesh is “being contained” and being “degraded.” There is no evidence to suggest they are growing stronger or bigger… only that they are growing more desperate and being forced to take action in other countries because they are weaker in the countries where they have tried to dominate.
In any case, “being contained” is not the same as “contained.” The war against Daesh by so many powerful militaries is a process, not yet completed. I do not believe that a few thousand mostly uneducated extremists can match the combined military might of Russia, the United States, France, England, Turkey, and Iran. It is folly to give these lunatics too much credit and ascribe to them too much power. When nations change their laws, policies, and principles in response to terror, then the terrorists win. Daesh is not winning; they are, in fact, degraded. A cornered animal will strike.
Do not assume that a few snowstorms mean the earth is getting colder. Do not assume that a few terrorist attacks mean the terrorists are winning. Most importantly, do not give them, through fear and political expedience, the victory they cannot win when we, their intended victims, refuse to be cowed.
Photograph of President Barack Obama at the Summit on College Opportunity, by Jacquelyn Martin (AP). http://time.com/3628733/obama-bible-misquote/