Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ideologies are not defeated with guns

These two statements are from the same speech:

“Ideologies are not defeated with guns; they’re defeated by better ideas—a more attractive and more compelling vision.”


"Our coalition has now hit ISIL with more than 5,000 airstrikes. We’ve taken out thousands of fighting positions, tanks, vehicles, bomb factories, and training camps. We’ve eliminated thousands of fighters, including senior ISIL commanders."

That's President Obama, of course. James Taranto makes a useful observation:

Now let’s pick out some key passages: “ISIL’s hateful propaganda . . . we will never be at war with Islam . . . pushing back as hard as they can . . . against these hateful ideologies in order to discredit them . . . keep rejecting warped interpretations . . . resentments and conflicts upon which terrorists are currently thriving . . . political and economic grievances that terrorists exploit.”
It’s a relentlessly, grindingly negative message. The only bit of it that comes anywhere near offering an “attractive” and “compelling” vision is the bit about “security, prosperity and the dignity that they deserve.” But that’s awfully vague, isn’t it?
In some respects, it seems wrongheaded, too. Arguably terrorism is more a problem of prosperity than poverty; the Islamic State has managed to advance in large part by seizing oil fields and robbing banks. (That’s not true only of Islamic terrorists either. Bill Ayers came from a wealthy Chicago family.) And whose idea of “dignity” does the president have in mind? Anthony Kennedy’s?
Barack Obama used to be called the World’s Greatest Orator, and two weeks ago we got a reminder of why. His speech in Charleston, S.C., at the funeral of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, was the best speech of his career. We disagreed with much of the political substance, but in rhetoric, delivery and tone it was extraordinarily powerful and inspiring.
By contrast the speech yesterday was discouraging, dispiriting and disheartening. It was a disoration, if there is such a word. (There isn’t, but then we’ve neologized before.) “Our mission to destroy ISIL and to keep our country safe will be difficult,” the president declared. “It will take time. There will be setbacks as well as progress.”
Not exactly “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat,” is it?

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