From The New York Times:
By Amy Chozick and Jonathan Martin | November 14, 2015
Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had set out to use the second Democratic presidential debate to portray herself as the strongest potential commander in chief while France reeled from terror attacks, instead found herself pummeled by rivals on Saturday over her ties to Wall Street and her foreign policy record.
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The debate in Des Moines opened with Mrs. Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Martin O’Malley bowing their heads to observe a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the attacks in Paris on Friday. And, at least at first, the three remaining Democratic candidates seemed acutely aware that traditional political punches could seem petty in the aftermath of the bloodshed.
But then Mr. Sanders and Mr. O’Malley unleashed pointed, yet polite, critiques of Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy stances, including her 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq, which Mr. Sanders tied to the rise of the Islamic State, which officials in Paris have said was responsible for the attacks.
“Let me have one area of disagreement with the secretary,” Mr. Sanders said gingerly, as if on eggshells to lob an attack at a somber moment. “I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq — something that I strongly opposed — has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of Al Qaeda and ISIS.”
Mr. O’Malley, meanwhile, painted a dark portrait of Middle East policy under the Obama administration, in which Mrs. Clinton spent four years as secretary of state. “Libya is a mess. Syria is a mess. Iraq is a mess. Afghanistan is a mess,” he said.
Without directly calling her opponents naïve, Mrs. Clinton responded by listing decades of granular foreign policy developments that she said contributed to the current crisis. “If we’re ever going to really tackle the problems posed by jihadi extreme terrorism, we need to understand it and realize that it has antecedents to what happened in Iraq,” she said.
Remember when Mrs Clinton told us that we must “empathize” with our enemies, we must “respect” our enemies?
We tried the more tolerant strategy under Obama and here are just a few things that happened:
- ISIS controls a territory the size of the United Kingdom.
- Clinton said she would hit the “reset button with Russia,” and Putin is taking apart Ukraine piece by piece.
- After the Bergdahl exchange, terrorists said they were encouraged to kidnap more.
Apparently, our enemies view empathy as a weakness and as evidenced, they exploit it. Many occasions call for empathy, but anything concerning America’s national security isn’t one of them.
Mrs Clinton said that “This is what we call smart power.” The problem is that it has yielded poor results, almost as though President Obama and the former Secretary of State weren’t all that smart when it came to exercising smart power. Here is Mrs Clinton saying that President Obama’s plan to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees is too small, and that she believes we ought to admit 65,000 refugees:
This was at the Democratic debate last night, after the Friday the Thirteenth attacks in Paris, and after it was learned that at least one of the attackers carried a Syrian passport and was a recent refugee.1
Of course, the lovely Mrs Clinton said that we ought to admit these refugees “only if we have as careful a screening and vetting process as we can imagine, whatever resources it takes. I do not want us to in any way inadvertently allow people who wish us harm to come into our country.” Well, screening and vetting processes take time and money, and even then mistakes can be made. Just how do you do your due diligence on undocumented refugees from a war-torn country like Syria or Iraq? An obvious point: if you don’t allow them entry in the first place, you don’t have to dedicate resources to screen and vet them, and you will make no mistakes in that process.
The three Democrats on stage2 were all very, very careful to avoid connecting the attacks in Paris with “radical Islam” or Islamists or anything else that might not seem liberal, progressive or multicultural. Perhaps only Mrs Clinton has made a statement as stupid as respecting and empathizing with our enemies, but it’s clear that none of the candidates wanted to do or say anything which would connect the Paris terrorists with Muslims in general.
And that’s the problem. It is certainly true that not all Muslims are radicals, that not all Muslims are terrorists, but the radical Muslims, the Islamists, the terrorists depend upon support, or at least non-interference, from the wider Muslim communities around them. It’s also true that only a small percentage of Germans were actually Nazis, but the Allies did not win the war by targeting only the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei members; the Allies targeted all Germans, from the Wehrmacht forces in the field,3 to the German civilians working in the factories and transportation centers, and their families. President Franklin Roosevelt was as much of a liberal and a progressive as any American of his day, but he understood that the way to defeat Naziism was not some cockamamie separation of the card-carrying Nazis and the larger German population enabling der Führer and the Nazis to try to carry out their goals.
We need to face facts:
- Whether we like it or not, we are at war with the Islamists, of whom Da’ish4 are not the only part; and
- Leftist policies of inclusion, tolerance and multiculturalism are remarkably poorly unsuited to winning wars.5
The emphasis of last night’s Democratic debate was changed to national security following the Friday the Thirteenth attacks,6 a subject on which none of the Democrats was either well-prepared to debate or would be well-suited to lead if ever elected President. None of them can be counted on to lead us through a fight, because, in their hearts, none of them are willing to fight, at least not against anybody other than Republicans. None of them can be counted on to lead us through a fight because, in their hearts, none of them really believe that the United States is actually right, none of them believe that the United States is an exceptional nation, none of them believe that our American and Christian culture is better than others, and none of them truly understand that some of our enemies don’t accept any notions other than conquest and victory.
Cross-posted, in slightly different form, on The First Street Journal.
1 – The Associated Press report that “An employee at Greece’s Ministry of Citizen Protection says Greek police have sent the fingerprints of the owner of the Syrian passport found at one of Friday’s attacks in Paris to French police. Police are trying to see if they match those of the assailant whose body was found nearby — or any other person known to police. The agency said the person who owned the passport came into the European Union through the Greek island of Leros on October 3” was time stamped at 8:40 PM, before the Democratic debate started. It is possible that the debaters were not aware of this report before the debate started, but anyone with any sense of caution would not have made the statement Mrs Clinton made without having all of the facts.
2 – Former Senator James Webb (D-VA), the only Democratic presidential candidate who made even the slightest bit of sense, has dropped out.
3 – The Wehrmacht included the Army (Heer), Navy (Kriegsmarine) and Air Force (Luftwaffe).
4 – I am not particularly fond of the initials ISIS, and the reduction to just IS, for Islamic State, seems even worse. Da’ish is an acronym for the Arabic al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham, according to the BBC, the group “objects to the term and has advised against its usage,” and therefore, I shall use it.
5 – See my four part series, Can We Win Wars Today, from back in 2006: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
6 – Bernie Sanders campaign was reported to have objected to the change. [mc_name name=’Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-VT)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S000033′ ] applied for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam war. His application was eventually rejected, but by that time Mr Sanders was too old to be drafted.