A central lesson of the disastrous Iraq War is that one job of a post-9/11 president is to calm fears, not feed them. Some of us voted for Barack Obama thinking he would do that, and help restore reason to foreign policy discourse. For a while it looked like we were right. Now it looks like we weren’t.
He suggests that the threat to the U.S. from ISIS is exaggerated. Here are some reasons to agree:
1. The threat from Saddam Hussein was exaggerated.
2. It is in the interest of government officials to exaggerate (at least some) threats in order to expand their power.
The alternative view is that the threat has been minimized. Some reasons to agree are:
1. We have been way too optimistic that civilized values will prevail in that part of the world.
2. We have been reluctant to hold Muslims to our standards of civilized behavior. It could be that this “soft bigotry of low expectations” comes from a deep-down instinct that predicts a lot of uncivilized behavior.
I could argue either side of this issue.