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November 16, 2015
Morning Jolt
... with Jim Geraghty
Be Horrified or Angry, but Don’t Be Surprised by Friday Night’s Terror Attack

One of the most maddening aspects of our reaction to Friday’s Paris attacks is that we’ve been here before. I can understand responding to the attacks with horror and disgust -- and 55-gallon drums of anger -- but I don’t understand why some people are surprised.

I suppose you might be surprised if you have absolute faith in the president’s public statements.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of the intelligence community seems to think it’s more of a probability [that ISIS brought down that Russian jet in Egypt]. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on House Intelligence Committee thinks it is. And he told me last week that this would mean that ISIS has fully eclipsed Al Qaeda as the greatest terror threat in the world. Is that right?

OBAMA: Well, number one, I think it’s premature, but it is a possibility. Number two, what we’ve known for a long time, since the duration of my presidency and before that, is that a small network of people if they’ve got some skills and bomb making capabilities can carry out some big damage.

That’s from President Obama’s Thursday interview. He also said that that a more direct assault on Al-Raqqah -- the headquarters and capital of the Islamic State -- is out of the question.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the coalition hasn’t all stepped up. And some of your critics say, even your friendly critics say, like Fareed Zakaria, that what you have on the ground now is not going to be enough. Every couple of months you’re going to be faced with the same choice of back down or double down.

OBAMA: I think what is true is that this has always been a multi-year project precisely because the governance structures in the Sunni areas of Iraq are weak, and there are none in Syria. And we don’t have ground forces there in in sufficient numbers to simply march into Al-Raqqah in Syria and clean the whole place out. And as a consequence, we’ve always understood that our goal has to be militarily constraining ISIL’s capabilities, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing at the same time as we’re putting a political track together in Syria and fortifying the best impulses in Baghdad so that we can, not just win militarily, but also win by improving governance.

Why do we need ground troops? Why can’t we just bomb Raqqa until nothing connected to ISIS is left? In fact, that’s more or less what France began doing Sunday . . .

The targets in Sunday’s airstrikes included a command center, a recruitment center, an ammunition storage base and a training camp for the terror group, said Mickael Soria, press adviser for France’s defense minister.

. . . leaving us to wonder why the command center, a recruitment center, an ammunition storage base and a training camp were still standing in Raqqa after a year of anti-ISIS coalition airstrikes.

In September and October, the U.S. and its allies averaged seven airstrikes per day. That may seem like a lot . . . until you see what the United States and its allies have done in the past:

During the 43-day Desert Storm air campaign against Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991, coalition fighters and bombers flew 48,224 strike sorties. This translates to roughly 1,100 sorties a day. Twelve years later, the 31-day air campaign that helped free Iraq from Saddam’s government averaged more than 800 offensive sorties a day.

What is this, Diet War?

Finally, here’s the comment that has the president in so much trouble:

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that’s the strategy you’ve been following. But ISIS is gaining strength, aren’t they?

OBAMA: Well, no, I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that from the start our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria it they’ll come in, they’ll leave. But you don’t see this systematic march by ISIL across the terrain.

Hey, remember when Rick Perry was ripping President Obama for living in a “state of delusion” about national security? (Heck of a job, GOP donor class and primary-poll respondents!)

Some of us have been talking about this threat for a long time. Over and over again. Here’s the Morning Jolt from January 16, 2015:

Not only does Obama not see the problem for what it is, he behaves as if he doesn’t want us to think of it as much of a problem at all. Look at what Obama has spent the past few days talking about: Faster broadband. Methane emissions. Mandating paid sick days. It’s as if he wants to talk about everything except the guys who have infiltrated Europe and no doubt, the United States as well, who are planning terror attacks.

The leaders of the free world march in Paris, January 11, 2015.

Saturday Night, the Democrats Kept Their Pre-Paris Campaign Rhetoric

For the Democratic presidential candidates, Friday night’s terror attacks changed nothing.

Hours before the debate, we learned that one of the attackers snuck in with the waves of refugees:

4. Ahmad al-Mohammad, 24 or 25. Syrian citizen, born in Idlib in 1990. One of the suicide bombers who blew himself up at France’s national stadium, the Stade de France, on the northeast edge of Paris, during a France-Germany soccer match. He was carrying a Syrian passport. On Monday Paris prosecutor François Molins said that the passport was authentic, and that the attacker’s fingerprints matched that of a man whom Greek officials say they registered, when he landed on Leros island on Oct. 3, on a smuggler’s boat, amid the huge influx of refugees into Europe.

Here’s Hillary Clinton, sticking to the plan to bring in refugees.


Secretary Clinton, let me ask you a question from Twitter that’s come in. And this is a question on this issue of -- of refugees. The question is with the U.S. preparing to absorb Syrian refugees, how do you propose we screen those coming in to keep our citizens safe?


I think that is the number one requirement. I also said that we should take-- increased numbers of refugees. The administration originally said ten. I said we should go to 65 but only if we have as carefully screening and vetting process as we can imagine whatever resources it takes.

Here’s Martin O’Malley:

John, I was the first person on this stage to say that we should accept the 65,000 Syrian refugees that were -- were fleeing the sort of murder of -- of ISIL. And I believe that that needs to be done with proper screening. But accommodating 65,000 refugees in our country, people of 320 million is akin to making room for six and a half more people in a baseball stadium with 32,000.

Hey, thanks for suggesting “proper screening,” Hillary and Martin. Of course, until Friday night, the French thought they were doing “proper screening” themselves.

Perhaps if Democratic candidates had bothered to pay attention to our cavalcade of government incompetence -- the VA, the giant hack at OPM, Healthcare.gov, the EPA polluting rivers it’s supposed to clean up, Benghazi -- they would realize that very few Americans trust our government to effectively screen 65,000 refugees. Europe is awash in fake passports right now. ISIS doesn’t keep updated membership lists.

Bringing Syrian refugees here is an enormously controversial policy enacted in defiance of public opinion, with little explanation or accountability. Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration is not consulting with state governments:

Governor Robert Bentley on Sunday announced he is refusing Syrian refugees relocating to Alabama.

“After full consideration of this weekend’s attacks of terror on innocent citizens in Paris, I will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to Alabama through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. As your Governor, I will not stand complicit to a policy that places the citizens of Alabama in harm’s way,” Governor Robert Bentley said.

Alabama currently has one U.S. State Department approved refugee processing center in Mobile. There have been no Syrian refugees relocated in Alabama to date, though neighboring states have processed a number of refugees.

Let’s do it. Let’s make the presidential election a referendum on letting in 65,000 Syrian refugees.

Here’s Bernie Sanders:


Senator Sanders, you said you wanna rid the planet of ISIS. In the previous date you said the greatest threat to national security was climate change. Do you still believe that?


Absolutely. In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say you’re gonna see countries all over the world -- this is what the C.I.A. says, they’re gonna be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops. And you’re gonna see all kinds of international conflict.

By the way, credit where it’s due -- John Dickerson did a terrific job of moderating, asking questions like this:

But-- Secretary Clinton, the question’s about what-- was ISIS underestimated. And I’ll-- I’ll just ask-- the president referred to ISIS as the JVU in a speech, the council in foreign relations in June of 2014 said, “I could not have predicted the extent to which ISIS could be effective in seizing cities in Iraq.” So you’ve got prescriptions for the future. But how-- how do we know if those prescriptions are any good if you missed it in the past?

One other point:


Thank you, John, well, I think it’s important we put this in historic context. [The] United States has unfortunately been victimized by terrorism going back decades. In the 1980s it was in Beirut, Lebanon under President Reagan’s administration and 258 Americans, marines, embassy personnel and others were-- murdered.

We also had attacks on two of our embassies in-- Tanzania and Kenya-- when my husband was president. Again, Americans murdered. And then of course 9/11 happened which happened before there was an invasion of Iraq. I have said the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. But I think if we’re ever gonna really tackle the problems posed by jihadi extreme terrorism we need to understand it and realize that it had-- ans-- and (UNINTEL) to what happened in Iraq and we have to continue to be vigilant about it.

Notice as she rattles off the history of terrorist attacks against Americans, she leaves off Benghazi.

Also notice Hillary Clinton’s clumsy attempt to suggest those Republicans hate Muslims:


Marco Rubio, also running for president, said that this attack showed -- in-- the attack in Paris showed that we are at war with radical Islam. Do you agree with that characterization, radical Islam?


I don’t think we’re at war with Islam. I don’t think we at war with all Muslims. I think we’re at war with jihadists who have--


Just to interrupt, he-- he didn’t say all Muslims. He just said radical Islam. Is that a phrase you don’t --


I-- I think that you can-- you can talk about Islamists who-- clearly are also jihadists. But I think it’s -- it-- it’s not particularly helpful to make the case that-- Senator Sanders was just making that I agree with that we’ve gotta reach out to Muslim countries. We’ve gotta have them be part of our coalition.

If they hear people running for -- president who basically shortcut it to say we are somehow against Islam -- that was one of the real contributions-- despite all the other problems that George W. Bush made after 9/11 when he basically said after going to a mosque in Washington, “We are not at war with Islam or Muslims. We are at war with violent extremism. We are at war with people who use their religion for purposes of power and oppression.” And yes, we are at war with those people that I don’t want us to be painting with too broad a brush.

If she’s so afraid of using the term “Islamist” or “radical Islam” because she’s afraid she will offend non-Islamist or non-radical Muslims . . . what does that say about her? What does that say about those non-radical Muslims?

If you find the term “Islamist” an inherent outrage . . . well, there’s blood in the streets of Paris, so get over it.

I suppose we should give O’Malley some credit for this blunt assessment: “Libya is now a mess. Syria is a mess. Iraq is a mess. Afghanistan is a mess.”

ADDENDA: The Village Voice hits me for being a relentless pro–Ben Carson shill for shrugging about his pyramids comments. Um, yeah. I really want the candidate who says NR is a submarine sent to destroy him and the lefties who think I’m a hackneyed Carson apologetic to debate each other.

Similarly, I’d like the Barnes and Noble reviewer of Heavy Lifting who called me “ultra-consertative [sic]” and the snot-nosed punk who sent an e-mail to my dad saying “Geraghty got caught lying about Carson and is being seen as a establishment hit man like Lowry” to debate, too. 

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Democrats’ PC Refusal to Name ‘Radical Islam’ Betrays a Deeper Weakness
After the Paris Massacre, the Debate Is Closed — ISIS Poses a Special Threat to the West
Encountering God, Who Is Good
The Deleted Emails of Hillary Clinton
By John Moe
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