- - Thursday, February 12, 2015


The lady with the scale of justice makes a belated appearance in Washington. The victims of the Fort Hood massacre are finally to receive their due. They’re due as well an acknowledgment by the commander in chief that they were the prey of terrorists. We’re not holding our breath, and neither should they. President Obama continues to hide in a game of words.

But with an act of Congress there’s acknowledgment by everyone but the president of a self-evident fact: Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, went to war against the United States on Nov. 5, 2009. Secretary of the Army John McHugh has quietly announced approval of Purple Heart medals for soldiers and equivalent decorations for civilians. They were felled when Hasan pulled a handgun and with a shout of “Allahu akbar” — “God is great” — blazed away at the Fort Hood Soldier Readiness Center. Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who should have had his own head examined, killed 13 and wounded 32 before Fort Hood police took him down. He was convicted of murder by a military court and awaits justice at a date with an Army executioner.

The Purple Heart is customarily awarded to soldiers killed or wounded in action against an enemy of the United States. Saluting in the direction of the White House, the Pentagon tried to whitewash Hasan’s connection to Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Islamic terrorist, and called the massacre “workplace violence.” Medal eligibility rules had stipulated that an attacker must have been directed by a foreign terrorist organization. New language enacted by Congress simply requires that the assailant “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack” and that the violence “was inspired or motivated by the foreign terrorist organization.”

Unraveling the tangle of motivations within the human mind that drives someone to kill can be a fool’s game. At other times it’s so clear a caveman could see it. When an attacker shouts the Islamic battle cry during an act of mass murder, that caveman need not be a psychiatrist.

Correcting legal language so that terrorism can no longer masquerade as “workplace violence” is relatively easy. More problematic is the stubborn man who insists that two plus two equals one, or five, but anything but four. Americans desperately want a clear-eyed man in the Oval Office, but Barack Obama demonstrates a willful blindness to the dimensions of the Islamic threat to peace in the world. In an interview with the Web site Vox.com, the president described the attackers in Paris who killed 16 persons in January as “a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

There was nothing random about it; the “bunch of folks” in the kosher market were radical Muslims, targeting Jews. The killers at Charlie Hebdo and at the kosher market clearly identified themselves as soldiers of jihad. The president’s narrative is of a piece with his six-year denial of the Islamic radicals’ war on the West.

Mr. Obama’s request Tuesday for congressional authority to use military force against the Islamic State hardly means he has awakened to the global danger in the expanding turmoil in the Middle East. Two years ago, he first sought war powers to deal with Syria’s chemical weapons and then backed off when Vladimir Putin stepped in. “I was elected to end wars, not start them,” Mr. Obama said. His delusions continue. Asking for authority to deal with an enemy he can’t recognize is not a strategy.

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