‘Americans Are Sometimes Collateral Damage’ – Jeffrey Goldberg’s shocking exposé of Obama’s views on Islamic terror.

‘Americans Are Sometimes Collateral Damage’ – Jeffrey Goldberg’s shocking exposé of Obama’s views on Islamic terror.

Barack Obama’s Boswell, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, is out with a new exposé cleverly disguised as an apologia. Peel away Goldberg’s reassurances of Obama’s competence, and the ritual denunciations of Donald Trump, and you uncover a picture of a president who not only is dishonest but displays a shocking indifference to American lives.

The piece, published yesterday, is titled “What Obama Actually Thinks About Radical Islam.” Subtitle: “The president does not suffer illusions about the pathologies afflicting the broader Muslim world.” Translation: When Obama insists on denying that Islamic terrorism has anything to do with Islam, it is not because he is naive or burdened by some cognitive disorder. Rather, he is lying in a conscious, calculated way.

Everything is about Donald Trump these days, and Goldberg’s piece, despite being about Obama, is no exception. He sets it up as a response to something Trump said Monday, which the Washington Post quotes at length:

“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said in a lengthy interview on Fox News early Monday morning. “And the something else in mind—you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”

“Something else in mind”? “Something going on”? What does that mean? Trump’s statement was pure innuendo, a verbal Rorschach test. We saw an inkblot. Here’s what Goldberg saw: “[Trump] insinuated that Obama is sympathetic to the Islamic State terror group.” Goldberg regards that hypothesis as absurd on its face, and we agree.

After another round of anti-Trump virtue signaling (“a neurotic belief in the president’s malevolent otherness . . . Trump’s critique of Obama’s handling of terrorism is, among other things, analysis-free and comprehensively unserious”), Goldberg gets around to acknowledging that “there are non-hysterical critiques to be made” of the president’s approach.

He makes an argumentum ad temperantiam on the president’s behalf, noting that even as critics on the right fault him for misrepresenting the threat, critics on the left object to his use of drone strikes against faraway terrorists. We’ll pass over the latter point except to say we’re with Obama.

But what is going on with the refusal to acknowledge that Islamic terrorism is Islamic? What does Obama have in mind? Goldberg dispels with [sic] the fiction that he doesn’t know what he’s doing:

Obama, in my reading, does not—contra his right-leaning critics—suffer illusions about the pathologies afflicting the broader Muslim world. If anything, his pessimism on matters related to the dysfunctions of Muslim states, and to the inability of the umma—the worldwide community of Muslims—to contain and ultimately neutralize the extremist elements in its midst, has, at times, an almost paralyzing effect on him. . . .

Again and again in our conversations, Obama spoke about the Arab and Muslim worlds in ways that ran counter—dramatically counter—to the caricature of his views as advanced by critics. At one point, he suggested, to my surprise (I’m not immune to the power of these caricatures) that far too many Arab Muslims, in particular, have given themselves over to hatred and violence. . . .

“There is . . . the need for Islam as a whole to challenge that interpretation of Islam, to isolate it, and to undergo a vigorous discussion within their community about how Islam works as part of a peaceful, modern society,” Obama told me.

He immediately pivoted from this statement, though, by addressing Donald Trump—not by name, but his target was obvious. “I do not persuade peaceful, tolerant Muslims to engage in that debate,” he said, “if I’m not sensitive to their concern that they are being tagged with a broad brush.”

So it all comes down to politically correct politesse. The president knows very well that Islamic terrorism is an Islamic problem, but he denies it when addressing the American people (excepting Goldberg, and to some extent excepting his very good February speechat a Baltimore mosque) because “peaceful, tolerant Muslims” might find it off-putting.

That’s not an unreasonable concern. But it does not speak well of the president’s oft-vaunted rhetorical and analytical abilities that he is evidently unable to come up with any solution to this public-communication problem other than denying the obvious truth. Further, the logic of avoiding the “broad brush” is obviously faulty: By insisting categorically that Islam and Muslims are peaceful, Obama is painting them with a broad brush.

Moreover, whatever the meliorative benefits of Obama’s rhetoric, it comes at a cost: Official lies are corrosive to public trust in government. Josh Earnest, Obama’s press secretary, said yesterday: “The president is quite proud, as he should be, of his record of making the country safer.” Do you believe it?

The Associated Press reports that John Brennan, the CIA director, said in prepared congressional testimony: “Despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach.” That’s believable in large part because it contradicts the official White House line.

Here, though, is the shocking part of Goldberg’s piece:

The fundamental difference between Obama and Trump on issues related to Islamist extremism (apart from the obvious, such as that, unlike Trump, Obama a) has killed Islamist terrorists; b) regularly studies the problem and allows himself to be briefed by serious people about the problem; and c) is not racist or temperamentally unsuitable for national leadership) is that Trump apparently believes that two civilizations are in conflict. Obama believes that the clash is taking place within a single civilization, and that Americans are sometimes collateral damage in this fight between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists.

That tedious Trump-bewailing parenthetical ensures that many readers’ eyes glaze over before they reach the revelation that President Obama views murdered Americans as “collateral damage in this fight between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists.” The words are Goldberg’s, but he is a solid journalist, and he is, as we said, Obama’s Boswell, intimately familiar with the president’s foreign-policy thinking.

The idea that American victims of terrorism are “collateral damage” is a misuse of the term. “Collateral damage” is a term of art in warfare; it refers to deaths, injuries or other damage inflicted on an unintended target. When the U.S. mistakenly bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999, that was collateral damage.

In order for the victims of the Orlando attack to have been “collateral damage,” the scenario would have to be something like this: A soldier of the Muslim Fundamentalist Army plans an attack on the Muslim Modernizers Army’s fuel depot, which for some reason is in Central Florida. He gets the address wrong and goes to the gay nightclub across the street instead, where he shoots everyone in sight before realizing his mistake.

That is not even close to what happened. There is no Muslim Modernizers Army, and across the street from the nightclub is a Dunkin’ Donuts, not a military fuel depot. The Orlando victims weren’t “collateral damage,” they were the intended target.

Indeed, the term “collateral damage” is nonsense in the context of terrorism. By definition, terrorists target civilians, and practitioners of legitimate warfare try to avoid hitting them even inadvertently. Both Obama and Goldberg know that: Earlier this year, Goldberg quoted Brennan as saying that before authorizing a drone strike, “the president requires near-certainty of no collateral damage.”

Goldberg, who opened by accusing Trump of insinuating that Obama is sympathetic to ISIS, closes by making a similar, if less subtle, suggestion about Trump:

His main sin is to refuse to listen to experts on counterterrorism, including experts in the U.S. military and intelligence community, who argue that he is helping ISIS by demonizing Muslims. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the so-called caliph of Islamic State, argues that there is no place in the West for a devout Muslim. Donald Trump often gives the impression that he shares this view, and that he is advancing the cause of ISIS, by endorsing its premise that the struggle in which it is engaged is, in fact, civilizational.

It is difficult to see how an attack on a nightclub in Florida (or local government employees in San Bernardino, Calif., or the Boston Marathon, or the World Trade Center, or any number of non-Islamic targets outside the U.S.) is part of a war within Islam as opposed to a war that a part of Islam is waging against Western civilization.

But even if we’re wrong about that and Obama is right, shouldn’t the top priority of the U.S. president be to prevent the Muslim civil war from being waged on American soil?

  • There is nothing new about Obama. He is simply a Muslim practicing taqiyya. And most on the left and sucking it up like baby pablum.

  • Daviddowntown

    there is no place in the West for a devout Muslim.

    Couldn’t agree more. We need another Joe McCarthy.

  • truepeers

    You have to be a complete douche not to want to see that the war within Islam (which outside a few places like Egypt only one side is really fighting) is part of a larger war against Western-led globalization; and that the Intra-Islamic war is about forcing Muslims to take sides (or to die off since orthodox Islamic political economy can’t really operate in or feed large populations); and that all the Muslims who aren’t fighting are implicitly (sometimes explicitly) submitting to Islam, as the orthodox Jihadis understand and enforce it.

    • Obama is that complete Douche.

      • Cat-astrophe

        Do you mean the North American definition, or the original one meaning vaginal irrigation?

        • ghost of benghazi


    • dance…dancetotheradio

      (or to die off since orthodox Islamic political economy can’t really operate in or feed large populations)
      That is the key to understanding them.
      Their ‘civilization’ is fundamentally flawed and cannot sustain itself.
      Look at Egypt.
      A nation that cannot feed itself and has to buy it’s wheat abroad.
      I remember the muslim brotherhood government minister who arrogantly said we will buy the wheat at the price we want to pay not what we are offered.

  • Martin B

    It’s better for a thousand Americans to be slaughtered than for a single Mohammedan to be offended.

    That’s his policy, and he admits it, and he’s proud of it.

    There has never been such a bald-faced traitor in the Oval Office.

    • Clinton

      I think this president’s political goals are advanced each time
      there is a mass shooting and American citizens are killed. Is it
      too farfetched to think that one of the reasons the FBI ignored
      all of the many signs the Orlando shooter was planning some-
      thing was because this administration wants horrific mass
      shootings to happen? Each time a shooting is allowed to happen,
      the left’s gun control agenda gains traction. Each time a shooting
      is allowed to happen, increased government intrusion and
      surveillance is made to seem reasonable. Censorship and jail
      terms for “hate speech” are made to sound justifiable. What’s
      a few citizen’s lives compared to advancing those goals? They’ve
      become a bloody shirt to wave– a tool to advance an agenda.
      The next time this administration needs another bloody shirt,
      it needs only sit on its thumbs and let another Orlando shooter
      drop another sweet crisis in its lap.

      Those people in Orlando were expendable in the eyes of this
      president. They were collateral damage in the fight between
      the left which wants to fundamentally transform America and
      those who would resist them.

      • Alain

        I think the same, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if all this is not a build-up to ignore elections and keep him in power. I hope I am wrong.

        • Clausewitz

          Been saying this since term two started. Incite a race war, marshal law, President for life. Still a possibility.

  • moraywatson

    Try again with the analysis , but this time hypothesize that although Obama doesn’t sympathize with Islamic Terror group tactics, he most certainly does sympathize with their objective, ie a worldwide totalitarian Islamic ummah governed by sharia law.
    With that in hand, Obama’s “collateral damage” comment is now clearly understood to mean that the killing of “innocent civilians” is collateral damage because he believes that non-terrorist tactics are preferred in the advancement of islam’s cause. The “perversion” that ISIS makes of islam, is not of islam’s ‘raison d’etre but of the best strategy for obtaining totalitarian utopia.

  • bargogx1

    This confirms what I already suspected – to Leftists, it’s better that people die than Islam be offended.

  • Linda1000

    There has been at least one terrorist attack in the U.S. in every year of Ozero’s eight years in office. Quite a lot of “lone wolf” attacks in some years. See the list (scroll down in article).

  • Cat-astrophe

    He had to be a Muslim to go to school in Indonesia all decked out in the correct garb….
    Also, the call to prayer on the silent morning air is the most beautiful sound in the world, he claims.
    What does it mean when I like the sound of air raid sirens and how secure we used to feel all curled up in the fetal position under our desks?

  • I’m still trying to figure out what the “offensive” thing was that anybody said about Islam to “provoke” 9/11. I don’t think YouTube even existed back then. The Left always has history backwards. Deliberately — they believe in the Socialist utopia today as strongly as Marx and Lenin believed at the turn of the 19th Century.

    The Left is enslaved to global fascist Socialism to the same degree that Islamists are enslaved to the global fascist Islam worldview.

  • K1

    You can not single out the GROUP
    You have to treat everyone as INDIVIDUALS
    (Never mind that after a while the evidence for violence from particular groups is evident)


    The victims must be attacked and hit first BEFORE you can catch the individual


    VICTIMS HAVE NO RIGHTS from the TERRORIST until attacked first!

    Something wrong in the state of Denmark … Me thinks

  • DavidinNorthBurnaby

    Aren’t you really sure he is a Muslim?

  • Hard Little Machine

    Soon suicide bombers will attack city buses. I for one will be darkly laughing as CNN fumbles to blame it on Trump. Let Obama own this one.

    • DavidinNorthBurnaby

      I’m waiting for some imam to blow himself up with Chris Matthews right alongside. Too bad no-one will be watching. Well, there’s YouTube.