Hugh told us all on Tuesday to read Graeme Wood’s “What ISIS Really Wants”. It is an extraordinary piece. And when you consider Wood’s conclusion about what to do militarily, you are tempted to think that Obama has gotten the same information and thinks he is acting accordingly. Wood concludes:
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options
Thus, you would think, over the last few weeks Obama has sought solutions in other areas. The NYTimes notes this morning, “While Mr. Obama has concluded that radicalism is fueled by political and economic grievance…,” but illustrates one inherent inconsistency in the Obama approach, “…he has found himself tethered to some of the very international actors most responsible for such grievances….” (Not to mention the inconsistency in that Obama’s own domestic economic policy that has created all sorts of grievances.)
But given the flailing that passes for non-military policy to defeat ISIS, one must wonder if Obama’s rejection of an invading military force is not based more on the knee-jerk liberalism of a bygone age that he holds so dear than a thoughtful consideration of reality. Peggy Noonan calls him “…Adrift on Denial.” The evidence that when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail seems plain. Does the whole “grievance” thing not sound like something right out of the SDS handbook?
The bit of socialism here, combined with a bit of communism there that has constituted left-liberal ideology for the last century or more has never been more evident in Obama than in his comments on religion over the last few weeks. There are two notable aspects to his comments that began with the prayer breakfast and have continued through this week’s conference. One is his view that religions are all pretty much the same and the other is that religion is to be manipulated for the greater good. “Nah, there is no Karl Marx present in that view,” he said cynically. To be clear, I do not contend that Obama is communist or a Marxist, but it seems plain to me he has read the book and likes some of what he read.
In 1991 I visited the Soviet Union. It was the time of glasnost, and Gorbachev had taken the boot heal off of the Russian Orthodox Church, kinda. It was possible, if discouraged, to attend services, and as an American I was allowed to see this happening. But it was visiting homes and talking to people where I learned that Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and the rest and never really succeeded in stamping religion from the Soviet Union. It was evident in the small icons in people’s homes that had been there for generations. It was evident in the people that would try to chase me off when photographing murals on formerly religious architecture because they believed it sacrilege. Religion, while oppressed, was alive and well in the Soviet Union.
I learned then, as we are learning today, that the power of religion is far more fundamental and far more potent than that of government. This does not mean, as some would claim, that a clash of religious viewpoints must turn violent. That is dependent on the religions involved and what they profess. Personal piety issues aside, this is the place where religions are most differentiated – how they chose to handle a clash with the non-believer. This also means that government will never harness religion for the so-called “greater good.”
Until Obama can understand religion for what it really is, he will be completely clueless in how to fight ISIS, or Islamic terror generally. And we will all suffer for it.