Monday, December 7, 2015

Is Liberty Stronger Than Fear? Let's Hope the President is Right

A lot of pundits-the usual suspects, starting with Morning Joe-are agog that the President hasn't announced anything new. .

Richard Haas, a war mongering correspondent, is on all the shows today declaring that stay the course isn't working so the President should change course.

What's his basis for saying the President's strategy is not working? Because of the lone wolf attack in San Bernandino?

What the fearmongers seem not to get is there is no magic bullet. There is no way to get inside everyone's head and know with 100% certainty where the next attack comes from.

It's clear that most of the Beltway pundits believe much more in fearmongering than they would ever believe in liberty.

Staying the course makes sense in that there is never a silver bullet.

"The last time Obama spoke during primetime on Sunday night was to announce the death of Osama bin Laden. But this address didn't contain that kind of bombshell news. Instead, he defended his existing anti-terror policies, and asked Congress to consider gun reform measures."

"He also explicitly condemned Islamophobic backlashes. It was a call for calm and for unity."

"We cannot turn against one another by letting this fight be defined as a war between America and Islam," Obama said. "I am confident we will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history."

"Obama wanted to convince the American public, after all of the panicked commentary about ISIS in the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, that there's no need for escalation — and that taking more drastic steps to fight ISIS might, in some very concrete ways, actually help the militant group. It's the sort of plea that has defined much ofObama's restrained approach to foreign policy."

Now I will admit that with all my criticism of fear-mongering, I too have some not inconsiderable fear right now. That we give into the politics of fear.

Obama also clearly stated what he won't do to fight terrorism: send in more ground troops.

"Obama warned, in visceral terms, against deploying combat troops to fight ISIS. "That’s what groups like [ISIS] want," he said, and explained why:"

"They know they can’t defeat us on the battlefield. ISIL fighters were part of the insurgency that we faced in Iraq. But they also know that if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years, killing thousands of our troops, draining our resources, and using our presence to draw new recruits."

"Likewise, he urged Americans against giving into their worst impulse when it came to Muslims living in America."

"Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes -- and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country," the President said. "We have to remember that."

The only way to defeat ISIS is politically-which is why Lindsay Graham's call for sending thousands of US troops and Ted Cruz's call for 'carpet-bombing Syria' would be counterproductive.

Like FDR said, the big fear is fear itself.

"The big picture reason for giving this speech is pretty clear: Obama is worried that the San Bernardino attacks will fuel a national panic about terrorism, one that could lead to a potentially counterproductive overreaction. And while he can't do anything about rhetoric in the Republican presidential primary, he can try to reach out to the American public directly."

The President is right. Of course, what's really scary is that in politics sometimes that's not enough as we can see with the success of the Far Right in France this weekend.


  1. No doubt fear is our stronger emotion, its strength can pull us astray.... which is why we need to practice and learn not to over react to our fear.

    Liberty is not a competitor with fear as I see it. Liberty is not an emotion on the same level fear is. As I see it, liberty is a sort of emergent emotion. Fear is a base emotion.... fight or flight. Liberty can only be realized when you get past the base emotions. The base emotions hold you hostage. Animals can experience fear, only humans can experience liberty.... if they control/understand their animal emotions.

    The GOP doesn't really care about liberty, they care about control..... and fear is a great tool for control.

  2. Agreed. The President tried to frame it as this choice but agreed, fear is very basic to what it means to be human