I can think of a number of motives President Barack Obama might have for his egregious decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other high-profile al-Qaida terrorists to New York for trial in our civil courts. Regardless of which motives apply, one thing is clear: Our enemy is at war against us while we are in a suicidal, 9/10 state of denial.
I’ve heard at least three possible reasons for his decision, which fall into the categories of political, ideological and strategic, respectively. These motives are by no means mutually exclusive and are overlapping.
My friend Andy McCarthy, at National Review Online, emphasizes: "The decision … is one of the most irresponsible ever made by a presidential administration. That it is motivated by politics could not be more obvious." Andy surmises that these proceedings will put the Bush administration on trial, giving the anti-war left, Obama’s base, "its promised feast." The left’s "shock troops, such as the Center for Constitutional Rights," will add each new disclosure to "the purported war-crimes case they are urging foreign courts to bring against President Bush, his subordinates, and U.S. intelligence agents." Andy’s analysis is difficult to refute.
Another bright friend of mine doesn’t dispute Obama’s political motivations but calculates that in the end, though appeasing the hard left, his strategy will end up costing him dearly because of the national security nightmare (and public backlash) it will generate — a scenario Andy McCarthy himself thoroughly lays out with foreboding. Given the inevitable and foreseeable blowback awaiting Obama, my other friend reasons that Obama has decided to do it because he is a true believer. That is, it’s not just a matter of feeding his base. He is his base. He is a hard-left anti-war ideologue. Again, I would be hard-pressed to poke holes in this assessment.
Then we also have to consider as a motivating factor Obama’s stunningly naive belief that by being solicitous toward Islam and overly kind to terrorists, we can convince them that we are good people after all and not an enemy they should attack. That Obama harbors this belief is scarcely deniable. His various statements on American foreign and domestic policy reveal his conviction that America’s past behavior and attitude, up until the precise nanosecond he was inaugurated, have contributed to our unpopularity in the world and served as a terrorist-recruiting impetus throughout the world.
If we hadn’t been so "arrogant, sometimes dismissive," if we hadn’t initiated "wars of choice," if we hadn’t been imperialistic and "unilateralist," if we hadn’t avariciously consumed a disproportionate measure of the world’s resources, the world wouldn’t look upon us with disfavor, and maybe even Islamic terrorism itself would be but a couple of isolated footnotes in an otherwise peaceful world. Included in Obama’s convoluted mindset is the notion that we are not engaged in a war, but confronted with a knotty law enforcement challenge.
Obama is Mirandizing captured Taliban on the battlefields in Afghanistan, has deliberately substituted "overseas contingency operations" for "war on terror" and "man-caused disasters" for "acts of terrorism," and refuses even to acknowledge that the "Allahu akbar"-screaming Nidal Malik Hasan was engaged in an act of Islamic jihad in the Fort Hood massacre.
Considering this background, Obama surely believes, as patently ludicrous as this is, that affording American citizen-level constitutional protections to the worst of the worst will have a placatory effect on Islamists and potential Islamists, reversing some of the antipathy they have toward the United States and thus enhancing our national security. Yes, I’m sure Obama’s tolerance will make jihadists, who are disposed to commit man-caused disasters, think long and hard about evening the score against us for our past "wrongs."
To me, that’s the crux of it. The theme that rages through all these interrelated motivations is Obama’s firm belief that pre-Obama America was, on balance, not a very admirable nation. Thus, we see his obsession to wreak "transformative," catastrophic change at all levels, presto chango, making us an admirable nation overnight.
But his policies across the board are devastatingly irresponsible to the best interests of this nation, from intentionally bankrupting us while pretending to have become a deficit hawk to dismantling our defenses while painting a bull’s-eye on the very heart of America for terrorist exploitation.
At this point, it has become clear that to say it’s wrong to root for Obama’s agenda to fail is to say it’s right to root for America’s failure, unless, perhaps, your worldview leads you to believe that America will succeed only by emulating a Third World nation.