Twenty-three months ago, in August 2014, the president said in response to a reporter’s question that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for fighting the terrorist group.
By MICHAEL FREUND
Buffeted by two raucous political conventions, most Americans may not have noticed that their government last week declared war on home appliances.In remarks that may very well go down in the history of indoor refrigeration, US Secretary of State John Kerry equated the environmental effects of electronic cooling machines with the threat posed by Islamic jihadist terrorism to Western civilization.At a meeting held in Vienna to revise an international protocol relating to hydrofluorocarbon emissions, the Obama administration’s top diplomat managed to keep a straight face as he uttered the following memorable words: “As we are working together on the challenge of [Islamic State] and terrorism, it’s hard for some people to grasp it, but what we – you – are doing here right now is of equal importance.”Equal importance? When was the last time a refrigerator opened fire in a shopping mall or carried out a machete attack in broad daylight? Has an air conditioning unit ever carried out a suicide bombing or beheaded Western journalists? Lest one suspect Kerry had perhaps inhaled too much greenhouse gas in his own heavily air-conditioned hotel room that morning, he went on to argue that “the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) is unfortunately growing. Already, the HFCs used in refrigerators, air conditioners and other items are emitting an entire gigaton of carbon dioxide-equivalent pollution into the atmosphere annually.”That may be true, but it is no less accurate to say that Kerry’s remarks are themselves a form of pernicious pollution, one that threatens to contaminate public discourse and soil the clarity that is needed to defeat Islamist terrorism.Indeed, if the man charged with overseeing American foreign policy is busy hobnobbing with international diplomats about freezers rather than fanatics, it means that the war on terrorism is clearly not getting the attention or focus that it warrants.And when he compares global warming with Islamist terrorism, he does nothing to advance the fight he wishes to lead against either.AdvertisementWhat is particularly galling about Kerry’s comments, aside from their inherent inanity, is the secretary’s hare-brained sense of timing.His observations come amid a surge in very public and audacious Islamic State (ISIS) terror attacks in France, Germany and elsewhere that have set most Westerners on edge.Just four days previously, on July 18, an Afghan refugee shouting “Allahu Akhbar” attacked passengers on a train in Wurzburg, Germany, wounding several people with an axe and a knife before being shot dead by police.A week beforehand, a man described by ISIS as a “soldier of Islam” used a truck to mow down 84 innocent people, including 10 children, at a Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France.And back in mid-June, a gunman who swore allegiance to ISIS murdered 49 people and wounded 53 others at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil since the September 11 attacks.Moreover, on the very same day Kerry spoke, ISIS extremists threw a man off a roof in northern Iraq because he was suspected of being a homosexual.If these incidents don’t concentrate the mind of the Obama administration, what will? Sadly, Kerry’s thinking reflects the muddled approach that has typified American policy vis-à-vis ISIS in recent years. Even as the menace posed by the terrorist group has continued to mount, the administration in Washington has seemed unwilling or incapable, or perhaps both, to forge a coherent stratagem for defeating the Sunni extremists.Consider the following: 30 months ago, in January 2014, Barack Obama likened ISIS to a junior varsity basketball team that need not be taken seriously.Twenty-three months ago, in August 2014, the president said in response to a reporter’s question that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for fighting the terrorist group.Two weeks later, he announced that America’s goal was to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS.But then in June 2015, at a G7 summit in Germany, the commander-in-chief again said “we don’t yet have a complete strategy.”And just last November, Obama insisted that the terrorist group had been “contained.”A day later, ISIS terrorists carried out a complex series of coordinated attacks which murdered 129 people throughout Paris.IF YOUR head is spinning, you are not alone. The American people, and the entire Western world, have been waiting, hoping, pining and praying for US leadership to eliminate ISIS once and for all.Instead, they have heard high-school basketball analogies, conflicting and contradictory proclamations, and now Kerry’s comparison between jihadist mass murder and the refrigerator where you store your milk.It shouldn’t need to be stated, but apparently it must: air-conditioners save lives, especially during heat waves. Islamist terrorists take lives, regardless of the weather.The only way to defeat those who seek to destroy Israel and Western civilization is to acknowledge the severity of the threat they pose and take appropriate action. Putting them in the same category as freezers is not only morally obscene, it is intellectually absurd.But after more than seven years of incompetence, that is what the Obama administration’s legacy is shaping up to be.