What do you think the most important responsibility of the President of the United States is? The economy? Healthcare? Appointing federal judges? Enforcing the laws of the land? Serving as leader of the free world? Working with Congress? Of course, all of these are presidential responsibilities, but not one of them comes close to being the president’s most important responsibility. No, the most important responsibility of America’s president is to ensure the safety of American citizens—to protect us from security threats at home and abroad. This being the case, a pertinent question arises: Does anyone feel safer with Barack Obama as America’s commander-in-chief?
First some background. I grew up when the cold-war was at its hottest. Tension between the Soviet Union and the United States was palpable. Berlin loomed large as the fuse that could ignite a thermo-nuclear holocaust on any given day. Americans lived under the constant threat of a nuclear Sword of Damacles. Life on planet earth was dependent on the most precarious of concepts: the appropriately named, MAD or mutually-assured destruction. In elementary school my fellow students and I grew accustomed to duck-and-cover drills in which we learned to respond to a nuclear attack by ducking under our desks and covering our heads; as if that would have done any good.
But even with the threat of nuclear destruction as a normal part of our daily lives, I felt safer then than I do now. As a child, I never worried much about the Soviet Union raining nuclear bombs down on America. Why? Perhaps it was because I was too young to know better, but that is not how I remember it. Kids take their cues in these matters from the adults around them, and I can distinctly remember the adults I interacted with—parents, teachers, and coaches primarily—expressing confidence in the leadership of President Eisenhower. Their attitude seemed to be summed up in a statement made by a friend’s father—a statement I still remember to this day: “With old Ike in the White House we don’t have anything to worry about. He can handle the Soviets.”
As things turned out, the adults in my childhood world were right. Having studied this turbulent era in our nation’s history and the role President Eisenhower played in it, I realize that perception was a key element in Ike’s strategy for protecting Americans from the Soviet bear. How America and its president were perceived by the Soviet leadership was critical to our safety and security as well as to eventually winning the cold war. Never once was President Eisenhower perceived as weak or indecisive by the Soviet leaders. In fact, just the opposite was true. While his Soviet counterparts were loud, threatening, and bombastic, Ike exuded a calm inner strength. Nothing scares a bully more than someone who stands up to him with calm self-assurance, and this is exactly how Ike handled the pushy Soviet leaders.
Eisenhower was an excellent card player (Bridge) who never showed his hand to opponents. He made sure the Soviets never knew exactly how, when, or where he would respond if they ever dared step over the line. In fact, he never let the Soviets even know where the line was. What they did know, though, was that Eisenhower would respond to their aggression and in a way they would not like. Keeping the enemy off balance while at the same time making sure they knew they would pay dearly for any misdeeds was an effective strategy for dealing with the Soviets. Eisenhower, the gifted card player, played his cards just right. In the final analysis, he outplayed the communist leaders of the Soviet Union by never showing his hand while simultaneously making sure they knew he had a good one. As a result, the Soviet communists respected Eisenhower and, in turn, feared America.
Fast forward to the present. Does anyone really think ISIS, Al Qaeda, or any other enemy of the United States respects President Obama or fears America while Obama is the commander-in-chief? I cannot imagine President Eisenhower calling a globally-broadcast news conference to announce, “We don’t have a strategy.” Further, I cannot imagine Ike using a news conference to make sure the world—including our enemies—knew that our response to their aggression, whatever it might turn out to be, would be limited at best. It is hard for me to imagine President Eisenhower announcing to the world—and the Soviets—that he was pulling our troops out of Berlin and then providing a detailed schedule for doing so. Had he done this, the Soviets would have responded exactly as ISIS has in Iraq.
There has probably never been a time in our nation’s history when America’s security was more tenuous. On one hand we have terrorist groups throughout the world plotting strikes against specific high-value targets in the U.S. and a southern border that virtually grants them unfettered access. On the other hand, we have a president who projects weakness, confusion, and a lack of resolve, and then adds insult to injury by announcing he has no strategy. We also have a president who appears to think he can win favor with terrorists by making pandering pro-Muslim speeches and by referring to terrorist attacks against American military personnel as workplace-violence.
What President Obama does not seem to grasp is that ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups think he is a joke. They don’t care if he has charisma, they don’t care that he is America’s first black chief executive, and they don’t care how hard the mainstream media works to gloss over his deficiencies as president. Terrorists are like wolves. They respect one thing and one thing only: superior strength. When they sense weakness, they are encouraged to attack, and with Barack Obama as America’s commander-in-chief, they sense weakness. They know that while they are developing plans to attack America and amassing the resources necessary to pull off their nefarious deeds, President Obama is putting what little energy he spends on defense matters into making the military more homosexual and transgender-friendly. They also appreciate his support for women in combat, and cannot wait to capture a few female troops. If you think beheading a few western journalists on television is the worst we are going to see from ISIS, just wait until they capture a few female American soldiers.
In an era when terrorism is the most probable threat to America’s safety and security, we need a commander-in-chief who projects strength, decisiveness, and resolve. We need a president who is willing to apply a strategy that was used by the school disciplinarian back in my junior high school days. Miscreants sent to him for discipline were told to bend over his desk for an application of what he liked to call the “board of education.” He would tell his victims that the paddling would begin on the count of three. Then he would strike the first blow on the count of one, painfully taking the unsuspecting truant by surprise. The shock value of his approach enhanced several-times the lesson learned by disorderly students.
This is precisely the approach the American president should take with ISIS and other terrorist groups. Tell them they have some specific amount of time—say two weeks—to cease hostilities and remove themselves from Iraq. Then in less than one week, strike one of their training camps a powerful blow, using any and all means necessary to make the point that America means business and has the resolve to conduct that business. If ISIS is getting the money it needs to finance terrorism by selling captured oil on the black market, destroy the oil wells in question. If the countries buying oil from ISIS complain, point out to the world that they are supporting these animals who behead innocent civilians.
ISIS has finally done what western nations have long hoped some terrorist group would do: come out into the open where it is becomes an easier target. Now all that is needed is a strong president with the resolve to pull the trigger—to use the weapons in America’s military arsenal in a decisive way. Terrorists, like wolves, respect only superior strength. America has superior strength. All we need is a president with the gumption to use it. Instead what we have is a narcissistic prima donna who would rather play golf than do his job.