What are we to make of a president who won’t fight a terrorist army — but will deploy 3,000 Marines to fight Ebola?
An administration that pre-emptively announces troop withdrawals while, in the next breath, declares global warming the greatest threat to America?
A White House that won’t make a single phone call to free a decorated Marine in Mexico — but will trade five Taliban terrorists with American blood on their hands for a likely deserter?
In my “infantryman” brain — having faced Islamists in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay — these comparisons just don’t compute.
Why would we definitively rule out deploying forces to fight radical Islamists but rush to deploy them to fight a virus?
Why do we retreat on the battlefield but charge full speed against the weather?
And why can’t we distinguish between valor and desertion?
These things make no sense to me, and to common-sense-led Americans everywhere.
But then I channel my “Ivy League” brain — having spent six years combined at Princeton and Harvard — and it suddenly makes sense.
I went to school with Barack Obama, John Kerry and Susan Rice. I heard the same lectures, sat in the same small groups and had the same classmates — not literally, but figuratively. President Obama and company are part of the same “educated” class, making their reaction to today’s chaotic, complicated and dangerous world painfully predictable.
A great many of President Obama’s actions and policies result in diminished American leadership and power, directly or indirectly undermining America’s stature, economy and military for decades to come. But, that said, I do not believe Barack Obama is flatly anti-American. Being truly anti-American would require him to take a definitive moral stance, something he is incapable of doing.
Instead of being anti-American, Barack Obama — a progressive elitist — is an “ambivalent-American.” He doesn’t believe America is exceptional or that it should lead, because he has been taught — and he believes — that all ideas, cultures, values, countries and religions are equal.
In his world, every person and idea must be respected, understood and accommodated; we all can, and must, “coexist” — as the progressive elitist’s favorite bumper sticker reads.
Our “ambivalent-American” leadership lacks the moral foundation — let alone moral compass — to distinguish between right and wrong, good and bad, righteousness and evil. Instead, as it breezes through elite colleges, travels in elite circles and attends elite cocktail parties, it abandons serious academic thought and focuses obsessively on “cultural dialogue,” “mutual understanding,” “ethnic diversity,” “gender empowerment” and its favorite, “global climate change.”
I’m not disputing the value of addressing these things as part of a robust, inclusive and tolerant civic culture — we have come a long way in that regard. But bowing at the altar of this post-modern worldview and making it the end-all-be-all of academic study ensure that we have a leadership class — as we do in the White House today — that has no ability to make necessary moral judgments in an increasingly dangerous world.
So what happens when progressive elitists like Barack Obama emerge from their ideological cocoons, or when the campaign trail ends, and there are still people out there who don’t want to “coexist” with America? What happens when, instead of coexisting, these people want to chop off the heads of our journalists, kill our soldiers, wipe our friends off the map and “slaughter” our veterans here at home?
At that point, Barack Obama’s brain reads: Does. Not. Compute.
Unilaterally disarmed by decades of moral equivalency, Barack Obama and those with whom he surrounds himself are incapable of calling the enemy by name (remember, “the Islamic State is not Islamic”), let alone doing what it is necessary to destroy it (our stated mission against ISIS). In the immediate term, a lack of action is masked by empty tough talk — or spun as a good deal in the Rose Garden.
But here comes the predictable part. Because they won’t fight real threats — like ideologues on killing Americans — they need to find something else to fight. They can’t look weak! They must look strong! Quick, they say, we need an enemy to fight!
So, instead of waging war on evil people, they declare war on evil viruses, evil health problems and the evil weather. Confronting evil faces requires moral fortitude; confronting faceless evil does not. Rather than fight the world’s most dangerous terrorist army — or prevent Iran from getting a game-changing nuclear bomb — they deploy troops to fight a disease, ambush the school vending machine and lead a misguided crusade against climate change. And rather than ruffle a few feathers to get a decorated Marine back, they negotiate with terrorists in an attempt to close a world-class and humane detention facility in Cuba.
If fighting disease, obesity and the weather proves insufficient — which it inevitably does — the progressive elitists pose as warfighters in order to appear strong. Exhibit A is Obama’s “surge” in Afghanistan. He was against the “bad war” in Iraq, so politically he had to be for the “good war” in Afghanistan. But instead of fighting to win, he set an immediate withdrawal deadline, sent fewer troops than our commanders wanted and declared an end to the war — no matter the conditions on the ground. All so he could look tough. It’s cynical, wrong and deadly.
There is, of course, value in containing diseases, promoting health and being good stewards of the environment; but undercutting our economy, our freedom and the fight against human evils in the process is what makes the progressive elitist worldview so dangerous.
As Americans go to the polls in a week, they would be well served to remember that many of their leaders — well-schooled at elite institutions and peddlers of “tough” talk — are not leaders at all. America needs fewer “ambivalent-Americans.” It needs more Americans who will courageously defend and advance the security, ideals and interests of our exceptional nation.
Pete Hegseth is the former CEO of Concerned Veterans for America and the former executive director of Vets for Freedom. A Fox News contributor, he is an infantry officer in the Army National Guard and has served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay. He is the author of “In the Arena” and serves on the Advisory Board for United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).