This, then, is current American foreign policy: to thread through a minefield of potentially uncongenial statements that could be construed by some as reflecting unkindly on the majority of people whose religion is invoked by mass criminals. This is the successor to “making the world safe for democracy,” “quarantine” of aggressive dictators, and “all aid short of war” for the democracies; of the Four Freedoms, the Marshall Plan, and containment (of Soviet Communism). It is a policy of pusillanimous concern for the sensibilities of the same Muslim masses that Obama browbeat Hillary Clinton into addressing in her groveling speech after the shameful debacle at Benghazi in 2012.
In responding to the Orlando tragedy, Trump, though the polls do not yet show it, clearly did much better than Clinton or Obama. The president took his usual refuge in references to gun control and avoidance of connecting the massacre to any sectarian cause. While a case can certainly be made for enhanced gun control, and I would support it up to a point, it was going to be practically impossible, since the murderer was a security officer, to deny him the right to acquire sophisticated weapons. I leave it to those more knowledgeable of the details of the case to judge the justifiability of the actions of the FBI in interviewing him, identifying him as an ISIS sympathizer, and making no effort to restrict his use of advanced weapons outside his work. (On its record, there is plenty of room to question the competence of the FBI.) But the president’s reaction to this tragedy, as even Bill Maher, the lowest conceivable denominator of public comment, has concluded, has been altogether contemptible.
Hillary Clinton, after her customary (in a phrase of FDR’s on another subject) “soporiferous lullaby” to the gay community, a matter which was not at issue between any of the political leaders, promised to discourage Saudi Arabian support of Wahhabi extremist agitation in the world. There is no evidence that the murderer was a Wahhabi. There is no more militant and effective adversary of ISIS than Saudi Arabia. And Trump shut her down, as if closing a hatch, by inviting her to begin by giving back the $25 million the Clinton Foundation has received from Saudi Arabia, and asking what she did in her four years as secretary of state to pursue this stated aim of discouraging the export of Wahhabism.