Let's begin by stipulating that what really matters in the aftermath of the Brussels massacre are the conditions and governing choices that have contributed to the burgeoning threat radical Islamist threat poses to the West. Europe's short-sighted immigration policies and feckless multiculturalism run amok have directly fueled the security threats their citizens -- including many peaceable Muslims -- now face. President Obama's reckless withdrawal from Iraq aided the birth of ISIS and afforded the fledgling terrorist army operating space to metastasize. The White House's politically-motivated decision to ignore urgent warnings about the rise of the jihadist group allowed it to gain territory, recruits and traction. Today, ISIS is the best-funded and -equipped terrorist outfit in history. And the administration's alleged pressure to whitewash and manipulate ISIS-related intelligence to exaggerate advances against the group and downplay its threat merely temporarily cloaked the problem as it got worse. The result? A European continent dotted with expanding pockets of unassimilated Muslim communities, in which shocking outrages take place with some regularity, and in which radicalized Islamists have plotted destruction and eluded authorities. An America that feels vulnerable and frightened after ISIS cells and loyalists have killed and maimed dozens of innocents in Western cities. A world in which ISIS has extended its tentacles well beyond Iraq and Syria, into Afghanistan, the Sinai, and the Maghreb, with underground footholds in major Western cities. And a sobering new global reality distressingly summed up this week by the former deputy director of the CIA under President Obama:
While the U.S. is having success diminishing the Islamic State’s caliphate in Syria, Morell said, the terror group is “growing rapidly in the rest of the world.” The Islamic State likely has “more territory today around the world than they did at any time, and they’ve conducted now attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and now in Brussels,” he told “CBS This Morning.” “So I would say they’re winning, right? They’re winning, and we’re going to have to find additional approaches to try to undermine them.”
As this global security nightmare played out in the streets of Brussels -- with suspects on the loose, raids being conducted, and civilian blood still staining the ground -- Obama chose to press forward with his planned photo-op at a baseball game in Cuba. As Matt mentioned yesterday, he was seated next to the island's communist dictator and grinningly did the wave with the crowd, perhaps blissfully unaware (as the Cuban regime surely wasn't) that leaders of a US-designated terrorist group were also in attendance. When asked about his priorities by ESPN, Obama said that he didn't want to allow the terrorists to 'win' by "disrupt[ing] people's ordinary lives." He returned to this point at today's joint press conference with the president of Argentina, adding a somewhat confusing reference to the "Boston Strong" movement after the deadly marathon bombings of 2013. Watch his explanation, followed by my immediate analysis on Fox News' Outnumbered this afternoon -- courtesy of Washington Free Beacon video guru David Rutz:
It's of course worthwhile for leaders to encourage free people to refuse to be terrorized by killers and thugs. He's right to reject living in fear and urging against allowing groups like ISIS to interfere with our way of life. But the president doesn't live an "ordinary life." He is the leader of the free world, which carries with it extraordinary responsibilities. His actions and words have significant meaning and carry moral heft. As I mention in the clip, sometimes unforeseen crisis demand significant schedule alterations, especially from a global leader. With the civilized world reeling from yet another lethal, coordinated terrorist attack, America's president made the decision to watch baseball with a repressive dictator for several hours, publicly engaging in all the fun and frivolity typically associated with sporting events. The message sent, whether he'll admit it or not, was one of unseriousness and perhaps even apathy. His defenders might argue that he chose to follow through on his diplomatic mission to Cuba, which they see as a history-making priority. Setting aside the controversial nature of his revamped Cuba policy, the president can't simply press the 'pause' button on world events as he tends to a foreign policy legacy project. Obama likely believes that legacy will feature historic rapprochement with a number of hostile anti-American regimes. In reality, it's more likely to be the genesis and rise of ISIS, and a nuclear-armed Iran. Pass the peanuts and crackerjack.