Republican v Democrat terrorism poll

Gallup released a poll on Sept. 11 that showed the Republican Party now has a commanding lead over Democrats when it comes to who the voters trust to protect them from terrorist groups and threats abroad.

The results spoke volumes about Americans’ opinion of the president’s “lead from behind” foreign policy, and his inability to comprehend the threat posed to the nation by radical Islam:

The Republican Party has expanded its historical edge over the Democratic Party in Americans’ minds as being better able to protect the U.S. from international terrorism and military threats. At this point, 55% of Americans choose the GOP on this dimension, while 32% choose the Democratic Party. This is the widest Republican advantage in Gallup’s history of asking this question since 2002.

The results were so bad that Meet the Press host Chuck Todd said the President Obama was on the verge of doing “Jimmy Carter-like damage” to the Democratic Party on matters of national security.

Where did it all go wrong? While an argument can been made that the predicament the U.S. (and the world) now finds itself in can be traced back to the president’s failure to secure a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Iraq in December, 2011, that still doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

Mr. Obama’s problem is that he fundamentally does not understand who and what he is up against. The following timeline, while incomplete, does a decent job highlighting the president’s ideological blinders.

June 10, 2014, Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, falls to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

June 13, 2014, President Obama says during an interview with Amy Davidson of The New Yorker that the group that just took over Falluja — Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — is the equivalent of a junior varsity basketball team: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

June 30, 2014, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant becomes “Islamic State” and declares its territory covering Iraq and Syria to be origin of a new caliphate in the heart of the Middle East.

August 7, 2014, President Obama announces that the U.S. will begin conducting airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic State.

August 19, 2014, American journalist James Foley is executed by Islamic State. Video of the his gruesome death is posted online.

August 21, 2014, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says Islamic State is “beyond a terrorist group.”

August 23, 2014, Over in Libya, Islamic fighters seize control of Tripoli’s airport. News outlets report that the intelligence community believes multiple jets previously housed at the airport are now missing.

September 3, 2014, President Obama simultaneously says the U.S. will “destroy” Islamic State and reduce it to a “manageable problem.”

September 3, 2014, Vice President Joe Biden says the U.S. will follow Islamic State to “the gates of hell.”

September 4, 2014, President Obama says he “doesn’t have a strategy yet” when asked how he plans to deal with Islamic State’s increasing power and influence in Syria.

September 9, 2014, Multiple news outlets wonder if Libya, now at the mercy of various warring Islamic groups, can officially be called a failed state.

September 10, 2014, President Obama says the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is not Islamic in an address to the nation: “ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.” No one asks the president if he believes the Ottoman Empire was Islamic.

September 11, 2014, — 13 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — John Kerry tells CNN the U.S. is not at war with Islamic State, adding “What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counterterrorism operation. It’s going to go on for some period of time. If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with ISIL, they can do so, but the fact is it’s a major counterterrorism operation that will have many different moving parts.”

September 11, 2014, —  13 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf says U.S. military operations against Islamic State are not a continuation of the war on terrorism, telling a reporter, “When we talk about how you degrade and defeat terrorist organizations, it’s not exactly I think how you’re probably using the term. And it’s not one that I’m using.”

September 11, 2014,  —  13 years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest flippantly responds to a reporter’s question about how the Obama administration defines “destroy” when it comes to Islamic State by saying, “I didn’t bring my Webster’s dictionary.”

September 12, 2014, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest decides the U.S. is at war with Islamic State, saying “The United States is at war with ISIL in the same way we are at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

September 12, 2014, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby says the U.S. is “at war” with Islamic State, but then goes on to downplay the military’s role in winning that war by stating “It’s about defeating [Islamic State’s] ideology.”

September 14, 2014, John Kerry reverses himself from his CNN interview just three days earlier and tells CBS host Bob Schieffer, “Yeah, we’re at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

The history shown above points to a man who stubbornly clings to his September 10, 2001 worldview.

Only a man who is in willful denial can say on national television that the group called Islamic State is not Islamic. Only a man who is in too deep can give the State Department orders to say the U.S. is not at war on a Thursday but that the U.S. is at war on a Friday, when absolutely nothing has changed. Only a man who has been swallowed whole by his own hubris can believe that his Orwellian doublethink wouldn’t come back to haunt him.

Western Civilization is in a culture clash, and yet the president will twist himself into as many intellectual pretzels as necessary to convince himself that he’s strictly dealing with a law enforcement issue. In order to prove how liberal he is, Mr. Obama destroys his credibility by shielding a largely illiberal culture from criticism.

The American people are once again giving the conservative worldview its due. When evil men are chopping off heads, conducting crucifixions, and slaughtering women and children, the guy who “doesn’t have a strategy yet” because he’s been busy “leading from behind” will collapse in the polls. Likewise, so will his political party.

All Americans should root for the president on matters of national security, no matter what letter is next to his name. Unfortunately, that is incredibly hard to do when the commander in chief tries to convince the American people that a giant army called Islamic State does not include practitioners of Islam.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

22 comments

  1. I remeber an interview with a campaign advisors years ago (I think it was one of GHW Bush’s) who said that foreign policy won’t nessessarily win you an election; but it can certainly lose one for you. I think that’s what we are seeing here. Polls aside, the problem has to be addressed; and I do hope he finds a strategy that works.

    I tend to compare themes in posts, recently we’ve discussed Churchill and Reagan comes up a lot; those two had a clear picture of what they were dealing with, communicated it effectively and acted accordingly. That vision and communication is huge part of leadership; and that is where Obama lags in my opinion. The Bushes, Obama, and Clinton went to ivy league schools; I think they are all very smart, but it’s more than that; Churchill, Reagan, Roosevelt, Kennedy etc set themselves apart because they could lead and react in the real world.

  2. Obama has been “swallowed by his own hubris,” and he has no reason to think that his Orwellian contradictions will come back to haunt him. The fawning yes-men with whom he surrounds himself are not about to tell him anything that he might not want to hear. And his acolytes in the media constantly cover for him, sweeping his gaffes (“the Austrian language,” “all 57 states,” “the intercontinental railroad”) under the rug, or putting a positive spin on them (saying “we don’t have a strategy” is a tactic right out of Sun Tzu).

    “No religion condones the killing of innocents.” Quran 8:39: “Fight with them until there is no more fitna (“unbelief”), and religion should be only for Allah.” Technically, one could make a “Clinton didn’t inhale”-type argument that Islam does not condone killing innocents, because Islam does not consider “infidels” (i.e., “unbelievers,” i.e., non-Muslims) to be innocent.

    1. Technically, one could make a “Clinton didn’t inhale”-type argument that Islam does not condone killing innocents, because Islam does not consider “infidels” (i.e., “unbelievers,” i.e., non-Muslims) to be innocent.

      Bam. Right on the money with that one.

    2. He’s been clueless about national security and foreign policy since the beginning. Remember how terrorism became “man-made disasters?” Or the apology tour of 2009? Or the statement about how Al Qaeda was “on the run?” Which of course, was nonsense, as the attack at Benghazi proved.

      ISIS is anything but a “jayvee team,” but Obama is too clueless to figure that out. They savagely murdered two innocent Americans. As far as I’m concerned, we’re at war with them. He thinks that by conducting air strikes against them, he’s going to accomplish something by reducing it to a “manageable level.” It hasn’t worked, and it’s not going to work. He comes across as an immature kid who doesn’t understand how the world actually works.

    3. The problem with relying too heavily on airstrikes is that…at some point in time, Islamic State will adapt. These guys are in cities. It’s not like they’re all just wandering around the desert. They control financial centers, key roads, etc. At some point in time ground troops will have to root these guys out. There’s really no way around it.

      The Iraqis aren’t really up to the task at the moment, and the White House is saying it wants to vet and train Syrian rebels. Ummm, okay. I’m not sure who that will be, but it takes time to train people. Time is not on our side right now.

      The situation was always a mess, but now it’s worse because he essentially stuck his fingers in his ears and went “Lalalalala!” for three years.

    4. Exactly. There will have to be boots on the ground at some point, to root these guys out. They laugh at Obama’s air strikes.

      And how do we know the Syrian “rebels” are trustworthy? We don’t. Plus, we do not have time to train them, like you said.

      It was incredibly stupid to ever leave Iraq in the first place. But Obama buried his head in the sand and ignored the warnings, and that enabled ISIS to rise.

  3. This issue has put me at odds with my parents. They think ISIS isn’t Islamic and is just a front group created by the CIA to undermine all Muslims and get into Syria. It’s a little depressing to watch the news with them since whenever anything ME-related comes up, that’s all they’ll talk about.

    “Western Civilization is in a culture clash”

    Absolutely. Seeing how the next few years play out will be interesting.

    1. I’m only asking this because you’ve shown frustration with your parents on this issue, but here it goes: Do your parents think the CIA created a time machine and created the Ottoman Empire?

      The thing that is annoying about conspiracy theorists is that pretty much nothing you say can change their mind. They make incredible leaps in logic that have no basis in reality, or they act as if the flimsiest of evidence is air-tight. It’s weird. Do your parents think Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, and al Qaeda are also CIA creations? What about The Muslim Brotherhood? It doesn’t take a genius to look at the Middle East and see that there are countless strains of Islam that are downright frightening. In America you might see a small clan of 40 Westboro Baptist Church members who say “God hates fags”; in the Middle East you large swathes of entire populations that believe the “Jeeeeeeeeews” need to be “pushed into the sea.”

      Remember when Ahmadinejad — the former president in Iran — wanted the “12 Imam” to come out of the desert and bring forth the apocalypse? There are many, many like him. That isn’t the work of the CIA.

  4. If the terrorists are a “front group created by the CIA,” is Obama in on it? He is chief executive of the US government, and the CIA is under the Director of National Intelligence, who, in turn, is under “the authority, direction, and control of the President.” Presumably, if the CIA (or the military) is conducting an illegal operation, the president can order them to stop, and he can fire anyone who disobeys him.

    Or, is Obama, “the smartest guy on the planet” (according to Will Ferrell), who has “never done one thing wrong in his life” (according to Chris Matthews), and who “is too intelligent to do the kind of jobs that ordinary people do” (according to Valerie Jarrett), unaware of what his own subordinates are doing? Is he like Colonel Klink, congratulating himself for doing a great job running Stalag 13, while his prisoners are using his prison camp as a base of operations for sabotage and espionage missions under his very nose?

    It’s one or the other.

  5. US foreign policy created these monsters. Saudi Arabia and Qatar fund extremists, and they are our Middle East pals. this is blowback from the “humanitarian” intervention in Libya and the failed attempt to topple Assad. those mythical “moderates” McCain loves in Syria also behead their captors. they also sold Sotloff to ISIS. US foreign policy is insane. in our psychotic attempt at full spectrum dominance US foreign policy is laying the ground work for another world war.

    and people in this country still can’t see beyond the two party system. it’s pathetic.

    1. I’m still waiting to see the Lizard19 foreign policy laid out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that shows how the U.S. would work with countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar on very real-world issues that demand cooperation, while still being able to be avoid the accusation of having an “insane” foreign policy by … guys of the Lizard19 mold.

  6. the Democrats who get pissed at me for criticizing their messiah have the same response as you, Doug. they demand to know what I would do if I was president, what is my solution? I think not doing stupid shit is good place to start.

    bombing people with drone strikes makes more extremists, so let’s stop doing that stupid shit. if my family was killed with a US drone strike, I would do anything to make the US pay for killing my family. that’s human nature, so let’s stop making people hate us by blowing up wedding parties.

    you seem to think that keeping troops in Iraq would help. I think that’s delusional, it would have just kept US soldiers in harms way—in a war America started based on lies in the first place.

    I think you should read Patrick Cockburn’s article about Saudi Arabia, 9/11 and the Rise of Isis. you might learn something about America’s extremist pals.

    I have a crazy idea: stop giving money and weapons to extremists. I know, I’m totally bonkers.

    1. bombing people with drone strikes makes more extremists, so let’s stop doing that stupid shit.

      No matter WHAT we do there will be more extremists. ISIS, ISIL, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda … you think they really care one whit what we do? If they did, they’d have backed off substantially since Obama took office given his rhetoric and actions.

      But OOPS — they didn’t. IOW, welcome to the REAL world, LIz.

    2. In Lizard’s world, there are still British citizens who are plotting and planning their revenge on Germany over the Battle of Britain. “To those who think I have forgotten Hermann Goring’s ‘Adlertag,’ I say, ‘Never!'”

      Actually, there are British citizens who would like to bomb Germany, but they all belong to radical mosques and probably just immigrated to the United Kingdom within the last two decades.

    3. yes, Hube, I think people care when their communities are attacked by remote control drones. saying otherwise is denying people a basic modicum of humanity.

    4. the Democrats who get pissed at me for criticizing their messiah have the same response as you, Doug. they demand to know what I would do if I was president, what is my solution?

      It might be a clue that you need to work on your self-awareness if people on both sides of the political spectrum are telling you that you’re really good at complaining but not very good at providing specifics as to what you would do if you were the commander in chief. Snappy little sayings like “don’t do stupid shit” are, as Hillary Clinton even said, meaningless.

      “Bombing people with drone strikes makes more extremists”

      Or, in the case of bombing the Germans and Japanese during World War II, it created two American allies and populations that prefer David Hasselhoff and Hello Kitty over their previous empire-building proclivities.

      I know that it’s really tough for you to comprehend that NATO and its allies might need to bomb terrorist organizations that have declared war on free countries everywhere, seek to recreate an Islamic caliphate in the heart of the Middle East, etc. … but most people — again, across the political spectrum — understand that.

      But yes, I agree with you, in that giving weapons to Islamic “moderates” who are not in fact “moderate” is a bad idea.

    5. so if we bomb them enough they will evolve to like hello kitty?

      I also notice you haven’t denied the reality that our “allies” our funding these jihadists, allies who behead people and stone women to death. but, you know, they have a lot of oil, so I guess it’s all good.

    6. I think diplomacy in the Middle East is a bit more difficult than you’re willing to acknowledge, which might be why you’re long on conspiracy theories and complaints, but short on specifics. You have the luxury of living in Montana and pretending as if dealing with Saudi Arabia was the same as dealing with, say, France. I’m inclined to think that if you spent a few months living in Saudi Arabia, then your perception would change. Or not, because in your world the CIA is responsible for every tragedy that might befall us.

    1. Yes, it is complicated when you live in a country where millions of your fellow citizens are sympathetic to the likes of al Qaeda, Islamic State, Hamas, etc. It’s hard enough running an intelligence agency — you trying running an intelligence agency where you always have to wonder how many of your agents are rooting for the guys chopping off heads.

      Again, I’m sorry if these sorts of nuances escape you. It might be why your Democratic Party friends (of the Jon Stewart-mold) are giving you a hard time.

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