Why Obama Ignores Clear and Present Dangers

Why Obama Ignores Clear and Present Dangers

REUTERS/Larry Downing

The horrific attacks of 9/11 emerged from a leadership vacuum similar to the one we are witnessing today. While revisionists (including Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright) like to claim that President Clinton presided over eight years of peace and prosperity, Bill’s willful disregard of numerous attacks on Americans emboldened the jihadists who flew the planes into the Twin Towers.   

Now, after winning another four years in the Oval Office, President Obama is following Clinton’s game plan, shrugging off jihadist threats and risking the security of the country. 

London’s Sunday Times has reported that political concerns prompted Obama to delay green lighting a mission to rescue reporter James Foley, who was subsequently murdered by ISIS. The president was afraid that if the mission failed, he would face recriminations like those hurled at Jimmy Carter after his administration bungled a plan to liberate Americans held in Iran. 

Related: Obama’s Foreign Policy Agenda Begins to Crumble 

No one can know whether Obama’s month-long dithering led to the mission’s failure, but since the hostages had been relocated by the time the Special Forces arrived, it is certainly a possibility. Worrying about polling instead of protecting Americans is a hallmark of Obama’s tenure, as it was of Bill Clinton’s. And it’s as dangerous today as it was then.


Democrats have crafted a flattering portrait of Bill Clinton’s time in office – a growing economy, comity in Congress, safety abroad. Many voters lean towards Hillary Clinton because they hope for a replay of those good times. They are kidding themselves. During that eight-year period, the White House was in constant turmoil, beset by one scandal after another. After all, it’s not easy to be impeached; Clinton was only the second president in our history who managed to do so. 

Like Obama, a distracted Bill Clinton tried to pin numerous jihadist attacks on random individuals, and handed them over to law enforcement agencies, as though they were no more serious than a bank robbery. Here is what actually happened during Mr. Clinton’s presidency: 

February 26, 1993:  Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists bomb WorldTradeCenter. 6 dead, 1,040 injured. President Clinton sunk in fight over gays in the military (Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell) and Hillary’s health-care push. Oval Office categorizes attacker as someone who “did something really stupid;” investigation handed to law enforcement, cutting out intelligence groups who saw evidence of organized terrorist involvement, including Osama bin Laden.  

Related: ISIS May Be More Dangerous Than al Qaeda Ever Was 

November 13, 1995: Car bomb explodes at U.S. military headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Five U.S. servicemen killed. Bill starts affair with Monica Lewinsky. 

June 25, 1996: Hezbollah group detonates truck bomb outside KhobarTowers military center in Saudi Arabia. 19 American servicemen dead, hundreds injured. Clinton focused on Whitewater trial and Filegate. Infuriates FBI by not pressing Saudis for help in investigating murders. 

August 7, 1998: Al-Qaeda sets off near-simultaneous truck bombs in Tanzania and Kenya near 2 U.S. embassies, killing 224 and injuring about 4,500. Osama bin Laden emerges as major terrorist leader. Clinton embroiled in Monica Lewinsky scandal. 

October 12, 2000: In Yemen, bin Laden suspected as perpetrating bombing of USS Cole. 7 Navy sailors dead. Independent counsel reports on Travelgate; describes Hillary’s testimony as “factually false” but declines to indict. 

Related: Jihadists Switch Loyalties to Join Islamic State Army 

What was Bill Clinton’s response to the wave of terrorist assaults? Nothing. Like Obama, he made appropriate remarks and then reviewed the polling for how he should proceed.   As the National Review’s Byron York detailed in 2006, Clinton’s chief political advisor Dick Morris was ever on the job, taking the public’s pulse. “Whenever there was a crisis, I ordered an immediate poll,” Morris recalls. “I was concerned about how Clinton looked in the face of [the attack] and whether people blamed him.” 

Why is it important to review this sorry saga? Because we see today a similar pattern, as Obama dismisses or deliberately misconstrues looming threats to America. The president campaigned on ending the War on Terror and routing Al Qaeda; when four Americans were killed by jihadists in Benghazi, the White House hustled out an explanation that purposefully distorted the event, trying to pin the murders on a mob protesting an anti-Muslim video. They knew better. 

As ISIS gathered steam, Obama dismissed their importance, belittling them as a J-V team. In the rapid collapse of Iraq, President Obama is complicit, having failed to agree to a status of forces agreement that would have kept a U.S. troop contingent in the country. That presence might have influenced the Al-Maliki government and helped subdue sectarian squabbles. But, it was more important politically to Obama that he “end” the war in Iraq

Related: The ISIS Dilemma Confronting Obama 

Similarly, his decision to ignore his own line in the sand in Syria, and his abandonment of allies lined up to jointly punish Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people, exposed to the world just how feckless our president is. We might have the mightiest military in the world, but we also have the most timid leader. 

Now we are threatened by a terrorist organization that clearly has the Pentagon on full alert and that has rattled the country. ISIS is not the only force taking advantage of the empty Oval Office. Russia’s President Putin continues to push into Ukraine, knowing that Obama will not intervene. Just two days ago, Moscow launched an assault into a different portion of that country; a region that could provide Russia access to recently annexed Crimea. Where Putin will go next, no one knows.   

Meanwhile, the Chinese see that the U.S. is distracted, and they are wading into the breach. They have threatened their neighbors in territorial disputes, allowed ever-more damaging cyber attacks on U.S. installations and institutions, and are playing hardball as never before with U.S. companies operating in that country. 

Most recently, a Chinese J-11 fighter jet buzzed one of our surveillance planes flying in international air space at dangerously close range. That Beijing would allow such a gesture of what -- defiance? dismissal? – is an embarrassment.    

The United States is a target, and we are vulnerable to the mad dogs of the world. Our allies and peace-loving people everywhere count on Americans to help keep order and to confront the bad guys. When we fail to do so, as is the case today and as it was when Bill Clinton was president, disaster follows. 

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