Latest update: December 11th, 2012
In 2004, I supported George W. Bush for a second term as president because I believed the most important issue facing the United States was the threat posed by Islamic terrorism, a life or death issue.
Even though I did not agree with President Bush on a single domestic issue, I nevertheless supported him because I believed the Democratic candidate, John Kerry, took positions that were not adequate for the struggle ahead.
Moreover, I believed the Democratic Party was not up to the responsibility to protect America and its allies from those in al Qaeda and the Taliban who had made clear they were committed to murdering every Christian, Jew and Hindu who refused to convert to Islam or pay tribute. I have no regrets in having taken that position.
When the choices for president were presented in 2008, the candidates being Barack Obama and John McCain, I chose to support Obama, who called me on the phone to say that if I had any questions on his positions on different issues, he was ready to answer them. I told him he did not have to worry about me and the decision I would be announcing. He immediately asked if I would go to Florida and campaign for him in the large Jewish community in that state. I said I would and I did. I also campaigned for him in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
(More than 75 percent American Jews ended up voting for Obama. The magnitude of his Jewish support had nothing to do with me. The Jewish community is overwhelmingly liberal and most Jews could not abide the thought of domestic issues being ill-served by another Republican administration. I discovered when I went to Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey that those Jewish communities had already made up their mind and needed no sales pitch from me.)
Charles Krauthammer began a recent column (“War? What War?”) with a knockout punch, quoting Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano saying “the system worked” when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian Muslim terrorist, was apparently used by al Qaeda in an attempt to bring down an American airliner with 288 people on board.
I won’t cite all the facts as to why the system in fact did not work and how lucky we were that a Dutch passenger tackled and restrained the terrorist. (Why haven’t we honored that brave civilian? And why haven’t we publicly shown appreciation to the two police officers who risked their lives to take down the Fort Hood Muslim terrorist before he could kill and maim others?)
Krauthammer made a telling point when he wrote: “The reason the country is uneasy about the Obama administration’s response to this attack is a distinct sense of not just incompetence but incomprehension. From the very beginning, President Obama has relentlessly tried to downplay and deny the nature of the terrorist threat we continue to face. Napolitano renames terrorism ‘man-caused disasters.’ Obama goes abroad and pledges to cleanse America of its post-9/11 counterterrorist sins. Hence, Guantanamo will close. CIA interrogators will face a special prosecutor, and Khalid Sheik Mohammed will bask in a civilian trial in New York – a trifecta of political correctness and image management.”
Krauthammer went on to point out that the president has made a point of banishing the phrase “war on terror.” The president’s initial statements following the act of terrorism over Detroit were tepid, referring, as Krauthammer notes, to Abdulmutallab as “an isolated extremist.” On the third day, apparently recognizing the inadequacy of his earlier comments, he referred to the incident as potentially “catastrophic,” and the lack of adequate security measures as “systemic.”
In my opinion, after the president finally recognized the gravity of the situation he should have flown home from his vacation in Hawaii.
Krauthammer ended his column with another knockout punch, writing, “Any government can through laxity let someone slip through the cracks. But a government that refuses to admit that we are at war, indeed, refuses even to name the enemy – jihadist is a word banished from the Obama lexicon – turns laxity into a governing philosophy.”
Mr. President, I hope you read the Krauthammer column. It is not too late for you to recover from the setbacks you suffered in the year just ended. Your commitment to battling Islamic terrorism led by al Qaeda, which has a presence in an estimated 62 countries, must be believably reaffirmed, with both words and deeds.
You should not hesitate to denounce and take appropriate diplomatic, economic and military action to punish those states that permit jihadists to flourish and train on their soil and ultimately attack the U.S.
Also, Mr. President, reverse your position on Guantanamo and try enemy combatants in military courts. Moreover, it is not enough to talk about energy independence. We should be told by your energy secretary what progress has been made on a quarterly basis with a press conference for follow-up questions.
Democrats have been seen as inadequate in the area of national security. If that perception continues or grows, we will see not only the normal loss expected in a biannual congressional election, but a rout with the Republicans taking both houses this coming November.
Mr. President, there is a war on, not a police action. Tell the American people and the world that we are at war so we can muster all our resources to fight it and win.Ed Koch
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