By Ewin James
William Tecumseh Sherman, a general in the Union Army in the American Civil war, said that war is hell. This means that no war is good. A war may be inevitable and in the end serve some good purpose but it usually leaves undesirable consequences. We are still enduring some of the undesirable consequences of the Second World War that was precipitated by Hitler's madness and racism.
Ewin James is a freelance journalist living in Longwood, Florida
So those who have the means to wage war on a massive scale must be especially careful. President Obama, as leader of the greatest country on earth, knows this and has been especially cautious in fighting the war against terror. In coming to office he inherited a war being fought by his predecessor, against Islamic terrorists, at a great cost in dollars and American lives. Rightly, he didn't want to shed any more blood and spend dollars unnecessarily. So he took almost the opposite approach that Bush had been taking: a softening of war rhetoric, with euphemisms replacing direct descriptions; and surgical strikes from the skies instead of sending in soldiers -- 'boots on the ground'.
Now as he leaves office the question is, how has he prosecuted the war; and is he leaving the United States and the world safer than when he took office?
Out of a leftist misconception that America has been too strong in the world; that harsh rhetoric towards Islam was a cause of anger and terrorism; and that terrorists weren't fighting in the name of their religion, Obama set about making apologies for America's behavior. He did so in Turkey, Egypt and France in 2009.
His euphemistic descriptions extended to things that were indisputable, such as the massacre at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009. He called it 'workplace violence' instead of terrorism. Nidal Hassan, the shooter, was a Muslim, whose radicalization was known to his colleagues and who shouted Allahu Akbar (Allah is Great) as he gunned down the 13 soldiers; still for six years, Obama and his administration refused to call it terrorism.
He has also vowed to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay where many enemy combatants are held, and move them to US mainland and try them in civilian court. Even though doing so would make it harder to convict them in a civilian court than in a military court; and they could be released into society and return to terrorism.
He has also threatened action and retreated when the time of reckoning came, as he did with the 'red line' concerning Syria. In August 2012 he said, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
Later that year, when Assad killed 1,500 of his people with chemical weapons, Obama did nothing and denied that he had set the 'red line'; it was the international community he said that had set it.
But perhaps what he has done that endangers the world more than anything else is the pulling out of Iraq in 2011 and not and leaving a sufficient number troops there as he was advised to do. The result was that Al-Qaeda metamorphosed into ISIS (The Islamic State of Syria and Iraq), the most bloody and remorseless terrorist group to arise in recent memory.
Now ISIS is growing in size, wealth and power and barbarity in the Middle East and through the internet and modern technology is making converts across the Western World who are spreading terror. In Western Europe they drive trucks into markets and maim and kill scores; they shoot people with high powered weapons and slash them with knives.
They are also recruiting disciples in America and smuggling terrorists among Syrian refugees; yet Obama thinks that in the name of compassion he must increase the number of Syrian refugees into the country. That is as foolhardy as him thinking that drone attacks against selected ISIS leaders and some installations are sufficient to decapitate the monster.
I'm not blaming President Obama for terrorism, or for the rise of ISIS. No president or any leader can prevent fanatics such as devotees of ISIS destroying lives, especially if they are willing to give up theirs to do so. Religious fanatics are some of the most unappeasable and brutal followers; for they are driven not only by hatred in this world but by belief in some reward in the next.
However, that doesn't mean they can't be defeated. Throughout history there have been leaders who defeated them. They did so without fear of violating political correctness and offending the religion in the name of which the fanatics sought to destroy innocent people. This is something President Obama has been too reluctant to do.
I fear that history will remember President Obama as a president who refused to accept that as bad as war is it is sometimes the only route to peace, eventually.