Barack Obama, George Orwell, and Terror
George Orwell would have disliked Barack Obama's big speech on terror, because Orwell hated when politicians used words to hide ugly truths.
In 1984, Orwell coined the term "double-speak." He foresaw how men of state would misstate and mislead to stay in power, using words to distort more than to inform. Orwell knew politicians would then get trapped by their own words.
Lying can be a conscious choice or an accidental habit. The leader "Big Brother" did it all the time in 1984, but lying can also come from sloppy language. President Obama and his team use euphemisms to describe Arab-Islamic terror. Fort Hood was "workplace violence," Detroit a "lone gunman."
Obama and his staff got so wrapped up in "politically correct" and factually wrong syntax that they could not see the truth even when it bit them in the leg in Benghazi. Their own discourse trapped them in a policy of inaction and clumsy cover-up.
"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks," wrote Orwell
"It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible." ("Politics and the English Language").
President Obama's address on terror shows he is not interested in reversing his PC process of willful blindness and willful ignorance regarding Islamic terror.
Anyone who examines the disease of Arab-Islamic terror sees that the problem was never just Osama Bin Laden or a group called Al-Qaeda, both spawned by the earlier Muslim Brotherhood and the Wahabbi movement in Arabia. Indeed, there were many earlier examples of Arab-Islamic terror from Sunni and Shiite sources.
Iran sacked the U.S. Embassy in Teheran in 1979. The PLO murdered three Western diplomats in Sudan in 1974. Even during the Nixon-Carter years, there were U.S. leaders and their aides who covered for terror, contending that Yasser Arafat and Ayatollah Khomeini were "moderates." But calling them moderate did not make them moderate.
Obama's team feels that the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran's leadership contain moderates who can be "engaged." So far they are hugely wrong. Iran sped up its nuclear bomb program and expanded terror cells worldwide. Egypt's Brotherhood launched attacks on Coptic Christians and put troops into Sinai, on Israel's border. Sloppy language and sloppy thinking are behind the Obama Administration's colossal misjudgment about the so-called "Arab Spring" which is really more of an Arab Fall into tribal chaos and failed states.
Obama is sloppy in his views on interrogation and terror. He confuses friend and foe, cause and effect. He says that the Guantanamo installation is a big recruiter for terror, but Islamic terror began well before Guantanamo, in effect created Guantanamo as a necessary prison and interrogation center.
"I believe we compromised our basic values -- by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law," said Obama, ignoring that terrorists are not protected by civilian or military law.
"Gitmo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law," said the president, not recalling that he and his political allies have really been those who turned Gitmo into a symbol. Obama did not recall that many of those released from Gitmo -- 25 to 30% -- have returned to terror.
Only a day after Muslim terrorists beheaded a soldier in front of crowds in Britain, Obama still uses the term "torture" in his speech -- not for the terrorists, but for the CIA interrogators who carried out water-boarding interrogations of THREE TERRORISTS that saved many thousands of lives by discovering planned attacks.
Those enhanced interrogations also led to Bin Laden himself, but Obama still takes the credit for liquidating Bin Laden while heaping disdain on the interrogators. This is what George Orwell described as the convenient hypocrisy of the partial pacifist:
"Those who 'abjure' violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf," wrote Orwell ("On Nationalism").
Obama likes the pose of a bloodless defeat of Al-Qaeda, where it is "dismantled," to use his favorite term, rather than destroyed. He says killing Bin Laden and drone attacks on terrorists turned the tide against terror, but there have been more attacks and plotted attacks on U.S. targets in the last four years than in the previous seven.
There is a general rise in anti-Western terror, including Benghazi, Boston, and the beheading of a soldier in Britain. This recalls the upswing in terror before the 9-11 attacks. Then, too, there were officials in Washington who acted as if the terror threat was over. Can we afford to be wrong again?
Dr. Michael Widlanski served as Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel's Ministry of Public Security, and wrote Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat, published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He teaches at Bar Ilan University and is Schusterman Visiting Professor at the University of California at Irvine, 2013-2014.