What happened in France is tragic, and there is nothing that can be said or done to assuage the grief of the families of those so barbarically murdered.
But what is even more tragic is that the international and domestic policy conditions that lead to such an attack — whether in France, here in the United States, or in any other country that still sticks its head in the sand — are completely preventable.
There are several factors at play, which should wake up those who still deny that the greatest threat of our age is radical Islam. Indeed, France has some historical amnesia in this regard for not recognizing the threat sooner, as it was the grandfather of Charlemagne, Charles Martel, who halted the Muslim advance into northern Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732.
First, we must realize that Islamic aggression is a real thing that does exist, and it is not because of American military presence. France has little military involvement, but it does have significant economic interests in the Middle East, which have often run counter to those of the United States. It is because Islamic jihadis are fundamentally and ideologically opposed to Western Civilization, just as many in Western Civilization are fundamentally and ideologically opposed to seeing the threat of radical Islam for what it is.
Second, we must understand that this group was allowed to flourish because of the diplomatic ineptitude of President Barack Obama’s administration. For all the cries laying the blame for the chaos on the Middle East at the feet of a former president, or at Republicans in Congress who opposed the ill-conceived Iran nuclear deal, or any other scapegoat du jour the White House has selected, it is an unavoidable fact that ISIS did not even begin to fully form until Obama’s second term.
The power vacuum — which I might add is being exploited not just by ISIS but by Russia as well, as Vladimir Putin attempts to reform the Russian Empire (which has historically always had designs on the Middle East) — was created by the “turn tail and run” strategy of the Obama administration. Our lack of foreign policy strength has made the establishment of a global caliphate closer to reality than it has been in 500 years; perhaps even since Martel defeated the Muslim invaders at Tours.
Third, France is belatedly realizing the folly of allowing unchecked immigration under the guise of “refugees.” This is presently happening in the United States now as well. France has now closed its borders, but the damage has sadly been done.
France’s governmental policies, all too similar to our own, made an attack on their homeland far easier, but at the same time, the French people did nothing to incite such aggression. It is a terrible thing for the people of Paris and the rest of France to live in the fear and the grief that this attack has caused. I am sure that they will learn from their error, as President Francois Hollande of France has already vowed to wage war on the forces of evil currently made manifest by the terrorists of ISIS.
I do not believe our own president will draw the same conclusions. Just hours before this attack, he stated that ISIS was contained, just as in 2014 he called them “the JV squad.” After ISIS claiming responsibility and the reports of the attackers also claiming ISIS affiliation, Obama says he won’t “speculate” on who is behind it — while routinely comparing Republicans and other conservatives with extremists and terrorists because they disagree with his domestic or foreign policies. Instead, Obama and his administration view climate change as the greatest threat while thousands of Christians and others are being brutally murdered by radical Islamic extremists in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Such statements don’t end at the White House. In Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate, not a single candidate would use the phrase “radical Islam,” and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, who has significant support among the left, has continued to adhere to the now obviously false belief that climate change is “the biggest national security threat facing the United States.” I suspect that if the Paris attacks had not occurred, none of the three on stage would have even addressed this threat.
It is said a wise man learns from his mistakes. But you’re twice a fool if you do not learn from the mistakes of others. I am waiting to see how many in our own government will learn from these mistakes and start taking the greatest crisis since the Cold War seriously. As the old saying goes: “You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.”
Patrick Calder of Portland is former chairman of the Portland Republican Party and a candidate for Congress in 2012 in Maine’s 1st Congressional District.