A large majority of Americans want to see U.S. warplanes bomb the amorphous Islamic State, aka ISIS. If those savages wanted to get our attention by beheading young men and proudly showing the gruesome executions on the Internet, mission accomplished. They have our full attention, at least for the moment.
But while we are generally united in our contempt for these latter-day Nazis, we are less confident in our own leadership. According to one poll, only 28% of Americans are confident that President Obama and his team will actually be able to defeat the ISIS threat.
Sadly, that lack of confidence is well-founded. Mr. Obama is a very reluctant commander-in-chief, a man who continually tells the enemy what he won't do. This week he again vowed that American troops will not be placed in harm's way in Iraq or Syria. Meanwhile, America's highest ranking military man, Gen. Martin Dempsey, says U.S. ground forces may in fact be needed to defeat ISIS.
The mixed messages coming from this administration are downright cacophonous. Not long ago President Obama derided Syrian rebels as "farmers, dentists, and folks who have never fought before." Now we are arming those local rebel groups and expecting them to take on the ISIS savages. Perhaps the farmers and dentists took a crash course at Parris Island when no one was looking.
The truth is that the Syrian rebels are just too weak and disorganized to defeat ISIS. Pretty much everyone knows that, yet the deception continues. Why? Because President Obama, who was elected as a charismatic anti-war crusader, has painted himself into a corner, not an easy trick in an Oval Office.
It's easy to start wars, he likes to say, but harder to end them. In fact, ending wars is not all that tough if you don't care what happens afterwards. It was easy to pull every American out of Iraq, damn the consequences. And those damned consequences are now coming back at us with a fury. The president has promised to do the same in Afghanistan, much to the delight of the Taliban.
The brutal fact is that the Islamic jihad is getting stronger, while we have a president who can't even use the word "Islamic" when describing our enemy. President Obama wants it all to go away so that he can focus on things near and dear to his heart, things like "wealth redistribution" and "social justice." But it won't go away.
Much like LBJ's Great Society fantasy was overwhelmed by a distant war, this president finds himself in a war he'd rather not be fighting. But ISIS makes the Viet Cong look like Quakers. They enthusiastically kill babies and children, enslave women, slaughter Christians, and behead all infidels. We are up against sheer evil, a wickedness that has to be confronted with overwhelming power.
Sure, it would be ideal to have a broad coalition. But aside from our perpetual ally Australia, who is willing to step up big time? Some European nations will lend tepid support, and a handful of Muslim states will help behind-the-scenes. But a "grand coalition" is a chimera.
When the world faces evil, there is always one force for good. President Obama may dismiss the notion of "American exceptionalism," but only the USA has the might and moral standing to defeat savages such as ISIS. The question is, do we have the will?
No one should expect President Obama to be Patton or Grant, but we do need him to speak with clarity and lead with purpose. Islamic terrorists are expanding the boundaries of evil, and if our president really wants to protect Americans and defeat ISIS, he has to be a much stronger presence.
No one will ever follow a leader who tells the enemy what he won't do, and whose go-to strategy is retreat. We need a president who is fully committed to killing terrorists before they kill us. Wherever they may be. However long it may take.