What To Do When Barbarism Comes Calling

by COLONEL KENNETH ALLARD (US ARMY, RET.) July 16, 2016

What do Nice, Ankara, Brussels and Paris have in common with Orlando and San Bernadino? Well, nothing at all if your name is Barack Obama. Merely coupling the words ‘Islamic' and ‘terrorism' is sure to get you a presidential rebuff. Airily dismissing the most chilling contradiction of our times, he is a community organizer whose world views haven't changed since he entered presidential politics a decade ago - except for his recent conversion to gay rights.

Now admittedly Mr. Obama is a great choice if you want someone to lead the media circus in deploring racism at a town hall. But a President duly sworn to provide for the Common Defense? Not so much.

The latest savagery from Nice, where at least 84 people were killed, including ten children and two Americans, is merely another case in point - no matter how much Mr. Obama may wish otherwise. Reuters quoted a former French intelligence official who said that, "Neither the date nor the place are coincidental" - for an attack which occurred on Bastille Day in a city with a known jihadi presence. The same report noted that ISIS supporters on social media "celebrated the high death toll."

Amidst such carnage, any diversion to politics might seem crass. And yet this latest tragedy underlines the life-and-death choices now being placed squarely before the American people in what is arguably the most important election since 1860. According to Hillary, everything is pretty much OK, per her pitch to voters that she is Barack Obama's successor. Just move along together, folks, nothing to see here but us elites.

But if you have endured his endless gaffes and put up with his Olympic-class malapropisms, you might be seeing something different emerging with Donald Trump. Surely it must now be dawning on him that the nation's condition is at least as perilous as he has been arguing all along! Maybe those dead-even polls even suggest that the country may finally be ready to listen?

If so, then it's high-time. Here's why:

  1. There has been no more perceptive observer than AEI's Mackenzie Englin as the Obama administration has systematically dismantled the nation's defenses, spending less than three cents out of every Federal dollar on the troops. In her cover story in the August issue of American Legion magazine, she argues that the resulting "do-more-with-less mindset" has forced a once "proud and innovative military to focus on squeezing out marginal efficiencies instead of assuring allies and deterring enemies." Whether you are talking about the smallest Army since 1940, a Navy shrinking to only 272 ships or the oldest, smallest Air Force in our history, your armed forces are "not large enough, modern enough or ready enough" to insure the nation's security.
  2. We face an equally troubling future unless we repair the widening gap between the American soldier and the society that he or she defends. While the Obama administration has opened the combat ranks to women and enabled transgendered troops, the sad fact is that less than one percent of Americans ever serve in uniform. Naturally, this means that 99 percent of us stay home, sending what I call "Other People's Kids" to fight our wars - usually returning to the combat zones three and four times.Always eager to squander tax dollars while gaining votes, Democrats are now demanding free college tuition. Why can't Republicans argue for a new GI Bill, linking earned educational benefits to new forms of national service, possibly even the National Guard? An even more radical idea: Why not reinvent the Guard's traditional constabulary mission, using it to reinforce our currently overrun borders?
  3. A Republican Party founded by Abraham Lincoln must combine any call for "law and order" with the high moral ground, also demanding fundamental fairness and decency. In 1969, I was drafted into an Army rife with drugs and indiscipline. While integration was mandated a generation earlier, covert forms of racism endured despite slow but steady progress. But the same generational commitment to institutional excellence demonstrated on every battlefield from Desert Storm to Afghanistan also resulted in a military where fairness and equality are now part of our DNA. Surely we can learn something from that experience, hanging tough on the duties of citizenship while respecting its fundamental rights and dignity.

Bottom Line: As the tragedy in Nice reminds us, the first requirement in fighting terrorism is to name the enemy. The second: To insure that the country is united in combating that relentless adversary. All of which demands far better leadership than we have today.

A version of this piece also appeared on The Daily Caller.

Colonel Ken Allard is a widely known commentator on foreign policy and security issues. For more than a decade, he was a featured military analyst on NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC. That experience provided the backdrop for his most recent book, Warheads: Cable News and the Fog of War. 



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