America’s response to James Foley’s beheading, as it SHOULD be, and as it actually WILL be *UPDATED*

James FoleyWe are a tribal people, whether we like it or not. The brutal murder of thousands of Yazidis appropriately excites our horror and compassion, but the murder of reporter James Foley is a direct attack on us, rather than an attack on undeserving others. He is one of us: An American unless, that is, we have reached a narcissistic level of dissociation from our own roots.

Moreover, and maybe this is just me, but I believe that we as Americans react more viscerally to beheading than to other forms of execution. Beheading has never been an American way of death, something true long before our nation was created.  Whether through formal due process executions or brutal, on-the-street murders, we shoot, hang, electrocute, poison, strangle, etc., but only the most insane among us behead.

There is something deeply symbolic about beheading, insofar as it separates the essence of ourselves — the head, which is the seat of our thoughts and personality — from the vessel that enables the head to function. It is the form of death that erases us, something Americans have never countenanced.

Worse, it’s clear from the video that ISIS proudly made commemorating Foley’s slaughter, that Foley’s cruel death was preceded by psychological torture and threats. It’s true that countries such as England and France once routinely beheaded their prisoners, often after or along with brutal, sustained torture.  As they moved out of the Middle Ages and into the Enlightenment, however, they tried to beheading to effect it speedily and as painlessly as possible.  Recall that the guillotine, rather than being viewed as a torturous instrument of death, was seen as humane because it removed the risk of an executioner’s fumble or a prisoner’s involuntary movements.

ISIS, however, still has an early medieval sensibility that revels in the psychic cruelty of beheading.  Moreover, to the extent that they eschew swords, scimitars, or guillotines, opting instead to saw away at their victims’ neck with dull knives, they bring to the effort a cruelty would have been disturbing even to Europeans several hundred years ago.

So now what? What will be the aftermath of Foley’s terrible end?

When Daniel Pearl was brutally executed in exactly the same way, by a kindred entity, his execution was folded into the horrors of 9/11 and was part of the prelude to war. Under George Bush, the American mindset was “When you attack us and murder our people in the most brutal, painful, dehumanizing ways possible, you can bet your bottom dollar that we will come after you. You can run, but you can’t hide. ‘The people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.'”

What can we expect from Barack Obama? Well, first, silence. As I write this, I’m under the impression that Obama has had nothing yet to say about the televised execution of an American citizen.

Second, Obama will eventually issue a bland, fairly affect-free statement, either through a spokesman or through a brief appearance on the White House lawn (no questions from the press, please). In an anodyne tone, he’ll say how sad he and the American people are at the news. He’ll promise to issue strongly worded condemnations of the killers. He’ll assure us that the killers are aberrant and have nothing to do with the good Muslims around the world. (God forbid he castigates the bad Muslims who rejoice under such names as ISIS, al Qaeda, al Shabaab, Boko Haram, Hamas, etc.). Lastly, Obama will promise an investigation along with the rote words that “we’ll bring these killers to justice.” And then it will be over. That will be it.

Oh, one more thing! Michelle Obama may well chime in with a sad-faced Twitter photo, complete with hashtag. Maybe #RIPJamesFoley or #Don’tBeheadOurJournalists or something equally profound.

Obama’s passivity will do two things. It will reaffirm ISIS’s belief that it’s not even dealing with a paper tiger but, instead, is dealing with a paper crawling worm. It will also tell reporters around the world that their best protection isn’t to tell the truth about radical Islam, knowing that the western nations — especially America — will protect them. Instead, reporters will understand that their only safety comes with parroting whatever lies these radical Islamists feed them, just as they did when they relayed Hamas’s propaganda from Gaza. Every reporter, from every Western outlet, will find himself (or herself) acting the part of Baghdad Bob, fervently repeating whatever words the Islamic executioner demands.

Things could be very different. As a friend of mine told me, when his wife first heard the report of Foley’s ritualistic slaughter, she turned to him, and deadpanned “Wow, it’s too bad there isn’t a military solution for the ISIS problem.” Exactly.

Max Boot, as astute a commentator of events in the Middle East as you’ll find, also thinks there can be a military solution. In his view, while the execution is meant to be a projection of strength, it’s also a sign of weakness. You don’t execute one man to make a point if you can take out towns or dams.

Our government should recognize ISIS’s weakness and act accordingly — and this action, with a brutal killing machine, cannot mean achieving “peace” through negotiations across the table. (As John Hinderaker noticed in an interview with Hamas, peace means a breather during which Islamists re-arm in order to continue their never-ending jihad.) Instead, achieving peace Western-style (raising our families, going to work, celebrating life) means obliterating ISIS:

What is needed now is not strongly worded condemnation of Foley’cs murder, much less a hashtag campaign. What is needed is a politico-military strategy to annihilate ISIS rather than simply chip around the edges of its burgeoning empire. In the Spectator of London I recently outlined what such a strategy should look like. In brief, it will require a commitment of some 10,000 U.S. advisors and Special Operators, along with enhanced air power, to work with moderate elements in both Iraq and Syria–meaning not only the peshmerga but also the Sunni tribes, elements of the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Free Syrian Army–to stage a major offensive to rout ISIS out of its newly conquered strongholds. The fact that Nouri al-Maliki is leaving power in Baghdad clears away a major obstacle to such a campaign.

Unfortunately, this aggressive attack against people who have united to become a feral roving slaughterhouse is the one thing Obama will not be able to bring himself to do. As we’ve known from the beginning, and more people are noticing daily, Obama rouses himself to respond only when he perceives an attack to be leveled against him personally, rather than against him as leader of the American people. That’s why he reserves his fiercest, nastiest, most demeaning rhetoric, not for those who slaughter Americans, annihilate Christians, and are engaged in an ongoing effort to effect the complete genocide of the Jewish people, but instead for Republicans. Republicans are mean to him, to Obama. The Islamists are just cutting down to size those people Obama dislikes anyway: Jews, Christians, and Americans.

As this year plays out, I continue to revise my long-standing believe that Obama’s only religion is Leftism, with himself as the godhead. I’m becoming more convinced that Obama is indeed a Muslim. I do not know whether he has always hewed to the religion of his childhood, hiding it for professional advantage, or if he has recently returned to it.  I do think, though, that one of the few truths Obama uttered was this one: “The sweetest sound I know is the Muslim call to prayer.

UPDATE:  Even worse, it appears that (a) the executioner was a former Gitmo resident; and (b) the White House knew in advance that Foley would die, but had no power to stop it.

UPDATE II:  Since I wrote this post, I’ve learned that Obama has spoken and it was even less than I thought it would be.  He said the world’s conscience is “shocked,” and that America will continue to “do what we must to protect our people.”

Funnily enough, when I hear Obama say he’s “shocked,” the only thing that comes to mind is this:

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  • JudithL

    I wonder if we will ever know the full truth of Obama’s life story, and if so, if I will live to read/hear it. I remember, just days before the election of 2008 visiting my sister, whose house and car were festooned with Obama posters. I couldn’t bring myself to say a word to her about them. How could someone so close to me, who had been reared by the same parents with moral clarity, have fallen for this charlatan? But she had plenty of company, and I fear my grandsons will be paying the price for their folly.

  • raymondjelli

    I wish it was a sign of weakness. ISIS is asserting that they will carry on Jihad and America can do nothing. Sure they can’t get the towns and the dams………….. yet. They waited out America in Iraq before and they’ll wait them out again. Time is measured differently in the Middle East than in the media.

    • Libby

      They’ve been quite clear that they intend to bring the jihad to our shores. Who knows how many have already crossed our wide open Southern border. I saw a photo from the Ferguson riots (forget where or I’d link) of a sign that read, “ISIS is here.”

      • Kathy from Kansas

        Here you go, from the Guardian, hardly a bastion of conservatism! Not only do we see an ISIS banner in the mob at Ferguson, but the article also shows tweets from ISIS militants urging ISIS members worldwide to go to Ferguson, MO, to wage jihad.

        So now we’ve got jihadis on top of New Black Panther Party militants on top of Chicago communists, all converging in Ferguson, doing their level best to ignite the race war that Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn have lusted after for forty years.

        We are so screwed.

  • jj

    We will, of course, be back in the Middle East, with the Army, in the not-too-far distant future. We will be there because these assholes will not rest until they get to have a real war with us. A real one, not a BS sideshow like what we engaged in throughout the Bush administration. They have been spoiling for one since Jefferson sent the Marines to the shores of Tripoli to root out the “Barbary Pirates” – which is nothing but Nellie talk for “Muslim assholes” – some two hundred years ago. They think they can win, because we have, since Jefferson, never finished the job. We never finish any jobs. In the entire history of the US we’ve actually finished the job perhaps twice: WWII, and we wiped out the Moros in the Philippines. Other than that we’ve half-assed it as a matter of routine. We either run out of patience, get squeamish, decide to spend the money on something else, or there’s some other collection of extraneous BS to concatenate that causes us to never finish anything. Ergo, Islam figures it can outlast us, and the entirety of our history would indicate they’re right. They may well be right. Certainly they can outlast the democrats. But whether they’re right or not, it is certain that the existential struggle they’ve been spoiling for since Mohammed threw his first epileptic fit, fooling the morons with him into thinking he was communing with the intergalactic Beano or whatever, will come. They won’t have it any other way. There’ll be no choice.

    Hopefully we’ll have adult leadership available, though I don’t see – from either side – who that might be.

  • Libby

    Foley’s murderer was a Gitmo detainee? I suppose now would be a good time to remember that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was in US custody at the (now-closed) Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr in Iraqa – but Obama release him in 2009.

  • Ymarsakar

    See the power of Death? Not even the Mighty United States of America can reverse it. Not even if people wanted to.

  • Charles Martel

    I think jj is right to say that the decisive war between Islam and the rest of the world is approaching. One thing to consider as it does is that the West is not alone in this. True, the cowards that have hijacked Europe and the United States will try not to put up a fight, but the Muslims have more than Euro- and Amero-weenies to contend with. Let me offer the names of four other nuclear-equipped nations Islam must eliminate before Dar-al-Islam arrives—none of which has any love lost for Mohammed’s death cult: Israel, Russia, India, and China.

    Unless we remove Obama, the U.S. will not deal with Islam at the level of violence jj properly sees as necessary. Europe will probably resort to ethnic cleansing or genocide, and given the low level of European moral and intellectual prowess, may decide to cleanse both the Muslims and Jews while it’s at it. But they’ll do it in their typical disorganized, pansy way that won’t existentially threaten the jihadists.

    Even with the U.S. and Europe on the sidelines, the jihadists would still be looking four very antagonistic opponents in the eye, each with a sound reason for wanting to incinerate the Pedophile Prophet’s (PBUH) followers. Good luck with that, Ahmed!

  • Danny Lemieux

    I have to respectfully disagree with you all.

    Obama is irrelevant to all of this. What is relevant is the people that voted him into office. All of us red-blooded Americans can gnash our teeth and dream death and destruction on the bearded heads of ISIS and related Jihadi movements, but we risk once again finding ourselves charging into combat only to find half of our citizenry doing their best to undermine our support and supply lines in the rear while giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

    Unfortunately, too many “Americans” will be brave only up to the moment that calls for personal sacrifice and the first body bags come home.

    If the destruction of the towers on 9/11 wasn’t enough to rouse the martial vigor, outrage and commitment of our sleepy, self-absorbed, self-indulged Leftenders of the Hobbitshire, then it is going to take a lot more than the beheading of a starry-eyed journalist to wake up our people to the real threat they face.. Until then, I’m afraid they will just keep looking for the next Obama to come and save us from all the bad things in the world.

    • March Hare

      Sadly, Danny, I agree.

      I was reading this post by Elizabeth Scalia over at Patheos:

      Her conclusion:
      “It will be up to the people of faith to demonstrate – charitably, and consistently – to the secular West, and to its reluctant leaders, that governments will have to add the missing component of faith to all of its arsenals — military, rhetorical, and diplomatic. Only then will the thing that calls itself IS — in God’s own time, and not without great struggle — crumble before the Reality that proclaims I AM.”

      The struggle between Islam and “the West” is an existential one. It is not political. It is not about resources. It is not about “freedom”–at least not freedom as defined by Western Enlightenment. It’s a struggle about the relationship of humankind to God and the role of free will in that relationship. This struggle is a Crusade–the MSM and Western Intelligentsia just haven’t admitted it.

      • Danny Lemieux

        Thank you for the excellent link, March Hare. Elizabeth Scalia is exactly right. However, I would take it one step beyond faith and say that we also lack the will to resist and fight for what we believe. I understand, of course, that deep faith is the source of great will.

        Charles Martel, Jan Sobieski, where are you?

      • qr4j

        Well put.

  • qr4j

    Ms. Book, you have put into words so many of the thoughts and emotions I have had since I learned of this execution. Thank you.

    I am reminded of two sacred texts at this moment: Psalm 46 (God is our refuge and strength) and a hymn.

    O God, our help in ages past,
    Our hope for years to come,
    Be thou our guide while life shall last
    And our eternal home.

    We really could use help in this world and in this country of ours.

  • Earl

    *IF* the U.S. gets involved in a “real war” against the jihadis (and I’m not that sanguine about the likelihood), then there is a MAJOR goal of great importance, that I’m hoping someone is thinking about.

    I refer to the Muslim residents of the Anglosphere who’ve headed out to wage jihad with their brothers overseas. The forces allied against obscurantism and murder MUST TARGET THESE FOLKS. KILL THEM ALL, if possible……and teach those still comfortable in England/Australia/America/wherever that if they fight against the West, they’re going to die!

    Two pluses…..(perhaps) fewer volunteers for the jihad overseas, and (for sure) fewer hardened jihadis returning to bring it home…..

  • Mike Devx

    Obama is not the man who will lead the fight against ISIL He will follow if others will lead. Perhaps.

    What struck me in watching Obama’s speech is that it is not directed at Americans, but at “The World”, At no time did I sense he was speaking to ME, or to my loved ones, or to friends, or to fellow Americans. He was speaking much more to an international “folk”, especially to fellow Muslims throughout the world.

    I always pay close attention to how Obama speaks of and to Christians, and his affect there was about as close to ZERO as you can possibly get. The man surely, absolutely, is no Christian, and feels no fellowship with Christians. I would even go further and call it a passive-aggressive hostility towards Christians.

    I am still unsure whether Obama is Muslim or not. But I am convinced that he is an “Islamic triumphalist”, meaning that he is convinced Islam is the future and it will win, one way or another. And he does not intend, in any way, to fight that. Hence his special PLEADING throughout this press conference to Muslims to understand that if he engages in conflict against ISIL, it is not in any way directed against Muslims or Islam, but against ISIL as betrayers of Islam.

    Terror is coming to our shores. On 9-11, it was foreigners who assaulted us – they were foreign in every way. That will not be true nor necessary in what is approaching. The Bostom Marathon bombers 0 the Tsaernevs? – represent what we will be facing: Homegrown, Americanized Muslims who assault us. The worst of them have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight, and they will be back. But for each one that is over there, how many remained here? How many of those who remained here will “activate”, just waiting for the right trigger? They are jihadists just waiting for the right moment, and they’re hidden. (The same is true across Europe, of course.)

    The Boston Marathon bombers were an early warning of worse to come. We’re much closer to the worst now than we were just a few years ago. As with the frog in the pot of water slowly heating to boiling, it can be hard to see. It WILL be hard to see, I fear, for too many Americans.

    I thought we had more time until things got much worse. Years past Obama leaving office until things got much worse. Now I am wondering if we’ll be facing the worst even while Obama is still in office. That’s a terrifying thought.

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  • Sharon Bennett

    I don’t think Obama is a Muslim, that is ridiculous. What I do think is that he probably strongly leans towards pacifism, which is not uncommon for many liberals. Often this is a good thing. If Bush had never invaded Iraq, we wouldn’t be having this problem with ISIS today. Of course, on the other hand, invading Afghanistan was probably necessary. So being reluctant to commit troops can be a bad thing too. I think Obama is probably not a very pro-fighting, pro-war kind of person, so whereas someone like Bush would be like “Lets go!” before thinking whether or not it is wise, Obama would hesitate, even when it might be a good idea to go in.