Latest ISIS beheading of an American exposes moral bankruptcy of our betters

posted at 2:41 pm on September 2, 2014 by Noah Rothman

Amid a Democratic revolt over President Barack Obama’s paralytic approach to the threat posed by the Islamic State, his liberal supporters are mounting a counteroffensive in the press. Obama is not demonstrating blithe unresponsiveness to the inhumanity displayed by ISIS militants in the Middle East’s new fundamentalist caliphate state. He is being “cautious,” quite unlike you-know-who.

They do not invoke the name Bush; doing so has become a parodic expression of inadequacy. They do, however, imply that Obama’s thoughtful approach to this nightmare in the Mideast is a welcome change from certain unspecified policies of the past.

“He is being cautious,” CNN political analyst Gloria Borger declared. “And everybody would agree that’s a good thing – nobody in this country wants boots on the ground or to go to war.”

“We have someone who is careful and cautious and also somebody who, I think, views everyone watching things around the world with their hair on fire,” Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart declared. “He sees himself as someone, it’s his job to tamp it down.”

When former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson echoed the conspicuously ubiquitous exculpation — that Obama is just displaying an abundance of caution — his interlocutor, MSNBC host Krystal Ball, said she found this approach “refreshing.”

She made this remark just as news broke that video had emerged featuring another American hostage, journalist Steven Sotloff, being executed by Islamic State terrorists. He, too, was beheaded.

The notion that this approach to a direct threat to national security and American personal safety is as good as it gets is, for many, merely an expression of fealty to a formative time in their lives. It is a perfunctory gesture to a worldview aimed at avoiding introspection. It is an elaborate attempt to avoid confronting the unthinkable notion that the great hope has not only failed to improve on the conditions left to him by his predecessor, he has made them so much worse.

There is nothing intellectually sound about displaying “caution” in the face of such brazen affronts to American dignity, even if that were what we are witnessing from the president. But that is not what we are witnessing. What we are seeing is abject fear. Obama’s actions are an admission to all who possess even a rudimentary capacity for intellectual honesty that he has no idea what to do. There are no easy answers for those looking to address the crisis in the Middle East, so the president has chosen none of the above.

In Monday’s New York Times, columnist David Brooks offered a tepid defense of the president and the multitude of menaces that he is failing to confront. Doing his best to absolve the nonentity in the Oval Office of consequences for his inaction, Brooks asserted that ISIS, Russia, Islamist militias in the failed state of Libya, China’s revanchism in the South China Sea, and other threats to the geopolitical status quo are merely a collective “revolt of the weak.”

“We are not living in a moment of immediate concrete threat,” he wrote, “but we are in a crisis of context.”

These are not notional security threats, but threats to civilization itself. Well, that’s comforting. If only the smart set would contextualize for us why these and other profligate acts of war are not that, but merely some form of kinetic diplomacy.

Our intellectual betters are rationalizing their own cowardice. They are subjecting their morality to what they believe is a cerebral check on their base, animal impulses. But it is not rationality we are witnessing, it is bankruptcy. We are under attack, and it will not end because we chose not to respond.

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al Qaeda hadn’t “attacked the US yet” (in the US) before 9/11/2001 either.

How did that work out again?

Del Dolemonte on September 2, 2014 at 7:05 PM

You are absolutely, 100% right.

That’s what pisses me off about Bush and his Administration. He fought Iraq like Vietnam, not like WWII, and we ended up wit a divided and demoralized country. Perfect fodder for the Institutional Left and their hand puppet in the White House.

I agree with you that ISIS needs to be destroyed before they get here, but good luck translating polling numbers urging action into actual action overseas.

The American people want nothing more to do with the Middle East. Unfortunately for them, Lev Trotsky is always right: “You may not be interested in War, but War is interested in You!”

victor82 on September 2, 2014 at 9:31 PM

Resist We Much on September 2, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Do you seriously think as a nation and a world power we should feel threatened because 2 hostages were killed by psychopathic thugs?
25 kids get murdered in a CT school room and the right wants to argue it’s ‘a price we pay for freedom’ and that no action whatsoever should be taken.
2 guys get killed in a desert 5000 miles away and they want us to run around screaming while building bunkers.
Maybe they wouldn’t have bothered killing this guy here if their murder of Foley hadn’t been so dang tragically successful for them.
verbaluce on September 2, 2014 at 4:01 PM

You once again accidentally bring up an extremely good point.
I’m sure it’s off topic, but you’re referencing the same 25 kids murdered by a psychopathic thug in CT (3000 miles away from someone in Oregon) that had y’all feeling threatened and jumping up and down for our nation and world power to DO SOMETHING!!!, right?

Same tired arguments being used her to dismiss even the idea of some sensible regulation of guns.
But it’s crickets at the NRA for a reason.
Assault weapons ban is coming back…and likely with a lot less loopholes this time.
Also gun show loopholes are done.
Say bye bye to high capacity clips…and bulk ammo buying/storing.
Majority of gun owners will have no issue with any of this…many will welcome it.
There’s always gonna be the ‘proud of my arsenal!’ fantasists jumping into this debate, but they will remain on the fringe.
Also, you will no longer be able have your own hellfire missile equipped remote, you know, protect you from tyranny and stuff.
(But paintball is safe. So no need to change your weekend plans.)
verbaluce on December 17, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Terrorists 5000 miles away?

The ‘molehill’ I am referring too is the specific heinous acts committed upon these 2 journalists.
verbaluce on September 2, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Thanks for your help.

rogerb on September 2, 2014 at 9:37 PM

Excellent commentary Noah, and right on the money.

AshleyTKing on September 2, 2014 at 10:00 PM

Time for Morning Joe to explain how Sun Tzu it is to basically do nothing in the midst of multiple acts of aggression against us.

kpguru on September 2, 2014 at 10:11 PM

best best evah Noah.

renalin on September 2, 2014 at 10:22 PM

That’s BS. Sorry. Appeasement and nonaction is useless.

A well placed bombing (not war) would be both emotionless and send a statement.

But that’s okay. We’ll just pop some popcorn and get used to the beheadings while King Putt is demonstrating a lack of emotion that you approve of.

kim roy on September 2, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Who is calling for appeasement or nonaction? Certainly not me. Airstrike the hell out of ISIS territory, but send in Saudis and UAE and other “moderate” Sunni soldiers to clean up THEIR OWN MESS.

John the Libertarian on September 2, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Until Mohammad comes back and tells Muslims that Islam is all wrong, there will be war with them. Unless we wipe them out, the rest of the people of the world is in danger. Do you want to wait on Mohammad or take action now? There is no deadlier virus on Earth, no vaccine, and no cure – only annihilation.


woodcdi on September 2, 2014 at 10:59 PM

Press: “President Obama, what would you wish to say after the news broke of another American murdered by Islamic extremists? ”

BO: “Fore!”

lonestarleeroy on September 2, 2014 at 11:15 PM

I will not support any military action until their is some sign that our federal government has an inkling about actually winning a war, and until our leadership gains bout 30 points worth of IQ.

claudius on September 2, 2014 at 11:23 PM

I don’t want boots on the ground.

I want boots on the necks of ISIS maniacs.

And then these psychotic Islamic scum ground to dust.

profitsbeard on September 3, 2014 at 2:11 AM

We’re Not At War.

Because we’re using SMART Diplomacy now!

jaydee_007 on September 3, 2014 at 3:17 AM


I don’t think so.

Elected officials? OK. You can use that term.

But they definitely are not our “Betters” in the U.S.

ProfShadow on September 3, 2014 at 6:46 AM

Good thing Roosevelt wasn’t so cautious.

mugged on September 3, 2014 at 6:57 AM

i find liberal double standards so entertaining

the same liberals that take the throat cutting of the week to say thats not all of islam thats only a small faction

the same liberals when a certified nut job, in a strict gun control state in a gun free zone shoots up a school
these same liberals DEMAND all gun owners be mass punished as all gun owners are then painted with responsiblity for the act of one nut job USING A STOLEN WEAPON.

the double standard is in full force.

sniffles1999 on September 3, 2014 at 8:10 AM

obama is the Nevil Chamberlain of our day

appeassment never stopped aggression.

carpet bombing does.

oh by the way, on global warming the ice caps have INCREASED.

sniffles1999 on September 3, 2014 at 8:13 AM

If you want Obama to do something about ISIS, surround them with golf courses.


woodcdi on September 3, 2014 at 10:15 AM

“We are not living in a moment of immediate concrete threat,” he wrote, “but we are in a crisis of context.”

David Brooks, intellectual flyweight.

ncjetsfan on September 3, 2014 at 10:40 AM

“We are not living in a moment of immediate concrete threat,” he wrote, “but we are in a crisis of context.”

David Brooks, intellectual flyweight.

When you don’t know whether to deficate or go blind, you put on an eye patch and pass gas.


woodcdi on September 3, 2014 at 11:43 AM