I wrote on Friday that I had not realized how oblivious many liberals were to the Islamic war -- their war against us, not ours against them -- until their reactions to the Fort Hood massacre came in. I have learned something that surprised me even more: that even senior Army commanders are oblivious to the war. I read a quotation from one that Fort Hood was a tragedy, but it would be an even greater tragedy if the army's diversity were lost as a result. I'm all for diversity in the army. I've known several devout Muslims, and I would trust them with my life. But would their exclusion from the military be a greater tragedy than 13 dead and 40 wounded? And how many other people who have died in the cause of diversity already, and will yet die in years to come? What is your definition of "tragedy," general?
In any case, I'm not arguing for the exclusion of all Muslims from the military. What I want, and what most Americans want, is some common sense on the part of the Army. I want them, and the FBI, to recognize that there are radical Muslims who want to kill Americans and overthrow our government; and when a Muslim declares openly that terrorists are right and Americans are wrong to be fighting them, they might want to classify that person as a radical and keep close eyes on him. If he's in the military, they might even want to expel him and to deny him a license to own firearms. That's the least they can do. People talk about an anti-Muslim backlash, but they are making a backlash more likely, not less, by failing to act against likely terrorists. If you were a soldier, how would you feel about serving near a radical Muslim? How would you feel if you lived next door to one?
Obama has said that he wants to make sure that the massacre at Fort Hood never happens again. That's great, but is he prepared to take the steps to ensure that? Is he going to acknowledge that there is a terrorist threat and take action against likely terrorists? Is he going to pursue the war against terrorist abroad with the vigour his predecessor did?
Obama is vulnerable on terrorism, politically speaking, because he has opposed almost everything the Bush administration did to fight it. The fact that Nidal Hasan was apparently operating in isolation gives him some breathing space -- had it been organized in conjunction with Al-Qaeda, it would hurt Obama a lot more. But there could be another terrorist attack at any time, a planned attack targeting civilians. If that happens, it seems likely that Obama will take a lot of the blame. How will he respond? Will he attempt to minimize the threat, or will he respond forcefully.
Honestly, I expect Obama would morph into a hawk in that case. He desperately wants peace with Islam, but his opinion could change in the event of a major terror attack during his watch. He has already disappointed his leftist supporters by moving cautiously on the release of Guatanamo Bay prisoners, moving slowly on withdrawing from Iraq, and retaining some of Bush's surveillance procedures. We can't know his true motivations, but one would presume that he thinks his actions are necessary for the security of our country. If that security were to be breached by a terrorist attack, I think he would revise his defense policies even further in the direction of safety over rapprochement. A strong response would also enhance his popularity, an even better reason to expect that route.