According to a Sunday story in the Washington Examiner, Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Peter King are warning President Obama that failure to act more forcefully against ISIS may result in an attack on the American homeland similar to 9/11. According to some reports the administration has quietly started to arm Kurdish fighters who are in direct combat the ISIS terrorists with the result that the Kurds have taken back two towns from the terrorist army.
The Republican warning sets up a horrible dilemma for the president and his people. The United States invaded Afghanistan upon the idea that it should not be used as a base for terrorist attacks on the United States. ISIS has already vowed that it intends to do the same, with the goal of flying its flag over the White House.
The president must be imagining what might happen if ISIS were to pull something like a 9/11 or worse off. It would be easy to do, with the southern border insecure. Jihadis would find it just as easy to infiltrate across that border as has unaccompanied children from Central America. From there it would be just as easy to venture to a large city – or several large cities – and commit terrorist outrages.
The unraveling of the world in places such as the Ukraine, Gaza, and Northern Iraq has proven unsettling for Americans, but still something of an abstraction. If that chaos were to come home to America and the president were to be perceived as not having done enough to stop him, the fury that would be visited upon him by Americans would be profound. Impeachment would, in a twinkling, be transformed from a punch line for Democratic talking points to an imperative. Sarah Palin, the only serious politician who has proposed it, would be transformed from a figure of fun to a prophet.
On the other hand, if the president does go in full bore to crush ISIS, he risks alienating Americans, including his liberal base, who have grown weary of foreign intervention. On the other hand he is not going to be reelected for anything. He might afford to be courageous, for a change, for the greater good.