Credit where it is due: for once "No Drama Obama" showed some real anger and emotion. In addressing the nation about James Foley, President Obama had a level of righteousness in his voice he does not often have. While I think it unseemly that he was literally within ten minutes of his speech on a golf course, I appreciate the righteousness in his statement. But his words bother me greatly. His words expose why he can never beat ISIL.
In his speech the President said a few things.
There has to be a clear rejection of this kind of nihilistic ideologies. One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.
Unfortunately, there is no clear rejection of this nihilistic ideology. And while you and I may agree ISIL "has no place in the 21st century", a lot of people do think it has a place. He said "ISIL speaks for no religion," but they do. He and so many refuse to recognize that. It may not be Islam, but it is certainly a religion and it has many adherents.
The biggest issue, taking into account all of the above, was this:
People like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy.
Herein lies the problem and why the President cannot beat ISIL. He is fond of talking about the arc of history bending in various directions. The truth is the arc of history does not bend on its own. People bend the arc. History bends in the direction of those who fight to bend it. As Mollie Hemingway notes, what President Obama said is "is literally Mickey Mouse philosophy. And I don’t mean that in a good way."
The future is often won by those who fight to destroy. History bent toward the West after World War II because we destroyed the Nazis, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and so much more. History bent toward Alaric I and the Visigoths when they sacked Rome. In the long game, we face what we face in the Middle East today because of the sacking of Constantinople and the destruction of the last vestiges of the Byzantine Empire.
"[D]estruction after all is a form of creation," wrote Graham Greene. There is a lot of truth in that. Combine President Obama's naivety on this point with his statement on "nihilistic ideologies." President Obama's progressive ideology is nihilistic and deeply naive. Both the progressive ideology and ISIL end up in much the same place — progressive, secular utopia always ends in totalitarianism. It always ends in a police state where the state controls freedom. The victims of the utopia may be different from ISIL's utopia, but there are still victims. History is filled with progressive utopias and those who suffer under them.
This arrives at the ultimate end and folly. Mr. Obama seems to think that if we can all just reject these silly ideologies and religion that we will order ourselves in a proper, tolerant society. Had he any sense of history he would know how wrong he is.
Men are brutal creatures when left to their own devices. Men in their natural state are savages who move immediately toward survival of the fittest. We do not order ourselves into utopia when stripped of ideology. We run headlong into the very nihilism Mr. Obama says we should reject. And here, friends, is where we reach the great point of division.
The world is divided into two groups: those who embrace the history and lessons of the West's faith heritage and those who do not. Those who do not may divide among atheists, agnostics, and even ISIL. Those who embrace our heritage and that of the West know that men can be called out of their depravity and nihilism to a higher power and cause greater than themselves. But that cause is neither the collectivist state nor Muhammad. It is, instead, the one true God and Truth so many pretend do not exist.
Because too many of our political and intellectual leaders reject that altogether, they will only go for half-measures thinking ISIL cannot win on the arc of history and that it speaks for no man or religion. All those presuppositions are wrong and potentially fatal to more than those, like James Foley, who stepped too close documenting this evil.