What if President Obama told the truth about Islamist terrorists?
I'll begin with a caveat: Barack Obama is not stupid. He's left-leaning politically to the point that he has difficulty fathoming the right side of an issue, figuratively or literally; he's inexperienced and naïve; he's devious and I think sinister as well; and he's playing women like a fiddle hoping to capture a second term in office on their hemlines...but he's not stupid. That's why I believe that he knew from the very first moment that the Benghazi attack was an act of terrorism. He implied as much during the Rose Garden speech that attracted so much attention during the second presidential debate.
Like most terrorist attacks on Western targets, the Benghazi attack wasn't a pure terrorist play. If it had been, the real terrorists would have been easy to spot and target, and they would have been eliminated quickly. But terrorists are crafty. They've learned how to make the most of the ignorance and stupidity of their fellow believers -- people who under ordinary circumstances would not voluntarily become human shields by putting themselves in the line of fire. All the terrorists have to do is incite a riot, join the crowd with their assault weapons in hand, and launch an attack after the crowd is worked into a frenzy. That's what they did in Benghazi, that's what they do in Israel all the time, and that's why it's easy for just a few real terrorists to look like an army.
What about the short YouTube video to which the president, the secretary of state, and the U.N. ambassador referred many times before it was impossible to deny the truth? Did it play a part in the Benghazi attack? You bet it did, because it was used to excite the crowd, but once the crowd started to move, the terrorists who planned the attack joined in to do their dirty work.
It would have been political suicide for U.S. military forces to open fire on an unruly mob in Benghazi. My guess is that the terrorists hoped that that would happen; then they would have won sympathy from useful idiots around the globe. As things turned out, they looked like a bunch of thugs and murderers, which they are. That's not what they wanted to happen, and most of them will probably be identified and dealt with.
With that as backdrop, what would President Obama have told the assembled heads of state at the U.N. if he had wanted to convey the truth? I think he would have said two things to two different audiences. First, he would have addressed the people in the room, and he would have laid out the facts that I just presented.
Heads of state need to hear the truth, because it's easier for them to deal with the terrorist threats that they face in their own countries if they think they are part of a global push. They need and want to hear the leader of the free world tell them in a high-profile public forum that radical Islamists are cold-blooded killers who enjoy mayhem and wreaking havoc. Religion is just an excuse for them to carry out their dastardly deeds. They need to be hunted down, apprehended, and dealt with appropriately. That's what President Obama should have told the world leaders at the U.N.
Next, he should have said something like this to the hooligans and malcontents who joined the crowd and ended up contributing to the madness and causing so much trouble:
"According to U.S. law, if you participate in the commission of a crime, you are just as guilty as the people who planned and orchestrated it. We make no distinction. This is a warning that you need to hear and heed. Henceforth, we will hold you personally responsible if you are involved in crimes against the United States and its citizens. We will hunt you down and bring you to justice. From this day forward, you are on notice."
Radical Islam is on the rise throughout the world, and global leaders know it. They need to hear the president of the United States tell the truth. Wouldn't it be great if he would? Candidly, I don't think President Obama has the courage and conviction to tell the truth. I think Mitt Romney does.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.