I can think of a number of motives President Barack Obama might have for his egregious decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other high-profile al-Qaida terrorists to New York for trial in our civil courts. Regardless of which motives apply, one thing is clear: Our enemy is at war against us while we are in a suicidal, 9/10 state of denial.
I've heard at least three possible reasons for his decision, which fall into the categories of political, ideological and strategic, respectively. These motives are by no means mutually exclusive and are overlapping.
My friend Andy McCarthy, at National Review Online, emphasizes: "The decision ... is one of the most irresponsible ever made by a presidential administration. That it is motivated by politics could not be more obvious." Andy surmises that these proceedings will put the Bush administration on trial, giving the anti-war left, Obama's base, "its promised feast." The left's "shock troops, such as the Center for Constitutional Rights," will add each new disclosure to "the purported war-crimes case they are urging foreign courts to bring against President Bush, his subordinates, and U.S. intelligence agents." Andy's analysis is difficult to refute.
Another bright friend of mine doesn't dispute Obama's political motivations but calculates that in the end, though appeasing the hard left, his strategy will end up costing him dearly because of the national security nightmare (and public backlash) it will generate -- a scenario Andy McCarthy himself thoroughly lays out with foreboding. Given the inevitable and foreseeable blowback awaiting Obama, my other friend reasons that Obama has decided to do it because he is a true believer. That is, it's not just a matter of feeding his base. He is his base. He is a hard-left anti-war ideologue. Again, I would be hard-pressed to poke holes in this assessment.
Then we also have to consider as a motivating factor Obama's stunningly naive belief that by being solicitous toward Islam and overly kind to terrorists, we can convince them that we are good people after all and not an enemy they should attack. That Obama harbors this belief is scarcely deniable. His various statements on American foreign and domestic policy reveal his conviction that America's past behavior and attitude, up until the precise nanosecond he was inaugurated, have contributed to our unpopularity in the world and served as a terrorist-recruiting impetus throughout the world.
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