Chris Matthews isn’t much for logical consistency.
In the wake of the gruesome beheading of journalist James Foley by ISIS terrorists, an act explicitly designed to send a warning to the United State of America, the MSNBC host appeared visibly agitated by President Barack Obama’s inattentiveness.
“No American president can survive if he lets Iran get nuclear weapons, and no American president can survive if he lets Americans be beheaded on international television with impunity. Impunity!” an impassioned Matthews asserted. “He has to strike back, as an American, it’s in our soul!”
A few weeks and another beheading later, the emotional shock of that moment appears to have worn off for Mathews. Retreating into emotionality, the left-leaning cable news host railed on Wednesday against responding to ISIS’s force with disproportionate American military might. He cited tired socialist dogma and even al-Qaeda’s raison d’etre to support this logically vacuous position.
“When we put tens of thousands of American troops into the Holy Land of Saudi Arabia, being warned that was a desecration that led to al-Qaeda,” a credulous Matthews repeated. “According to al-Qaeda, that led to their reason to attack us on 9/11.”
Brilliant. Of course, the attacks of 9/11 (and those in Kenya, Tanzania, and Yemen) were inspired by George H. W. Bush’s response to the invasion of Kuwait and Riyadh’s request to station troops in Saudi Arabia. Matthews makes no mention of the fact that al-Qaeda did not surrender when those troops were removed, but merely crafted a new casus belli.
Similarly, Matthews now finds the logic of the Islamic State to be perfectly sound. “When we hit ISIS, they beheaded our people,” he insisted.
But Matthews’ pathological rant was kicked into high gear when his interlocutor played a clip of former Vice President Dick Cheney issuing a perfectly valid condemnation of Barack Obama for his premature decision to pull American forces out of Iraq and leave behind a power vacuum which was filled by Iran and the Islamic State.
In the flailing and juvenile expression of indignation, Matthews adopted pacifist position so logically flawed that even he will probably find it ill-advised when he has had some time to cool down.
“This sort of kneejerk, Dr. Strangelove approach of his is always more force,” he said of Cheney. “More force is not the answer.”
“If you want to escalate, to use the president’s phrase, we know how to do this. We know how to make things worse in the Middle East. We do know that. What we don’t know how to do yet is how to deescalate, how to lower the heat, how to reduce the popularity, if you will, of these zealot groups, these zealotry groups, and I think that’s what we have to learn how to do,” the agitated cable news host ranted.
“We’re not going to kill the Arab world. Killing Arabs on international television is what we do for the last 12, 14 years,” Matthews continued. “What we have to do is find a way of not killing them and bombing them from the air will elicit a response from ISIS. You can bet your bottom dollar, there will be a reaction if we start a bombing raid over there and the reaction will not be capitulation.”
“You can bet everything you have on the fact that ISIS will not surrender in the face of a U.S. bombing attack. They’ll do something to us,” he added. “And we better be prepared when we bomb them again or escalate the bombing, that’s what we’re asking for. It’s coming.”
This is a reckless doctrine of preemptive surrender that would have made Chamberlin wince .
It is not wise to allow a group which beheads children and sells women into slavery to exist unmolested. It is not measured intellectualism to ignore an organization which seeks to exterminate religious minorities or destroys 2,000-year-old world heritage sites. It is not noble to ignore an ideology that has resurrected crucifixion as a form of capital punishment in order to intimidate its opponents. It is not prudent to advocate for a position of passivity in the face of what the White House has determined are “terrorist” attacks upon the nation.
What Matthews is evidencing is not sagacity or morality. It is contemptuous cowardice masquerading as judiciousness.
The Islamic State must be “degraded and destroyed,” as the president reluctantly came to understand. Fortunately for the president, the vast majority of Americans agree with him. MSNBC, meanwhile, continues to cater to a minority viewpoint. All the while, they delude themselves and their audience into believing they are the well-reasoned voice of a silent majority.
It was a positively mortifying display. If only the network’s hosts were capable of embarrassment.