The One Big Reason That John McCain Is Right About Orlando

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, acknowledges a fellow Navy veteran during a Phoenix Memorial Day Ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, Monday, May 30, 2016, in Phoenix. At age 79, running what may be his last campaign, McCain finds himself on uncertain terrain. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

It isn’t very often I get to use “John McCain” and “right” in close proximity to each other without resorting to either a lot of negative modifiers or sarcasm tags. In fact, in an institution marked by miscalculation and failure, John McCain may very well stand alone for being more wrong about more stuff than any of his colleagues. Yesterday, however, McCain was on target:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the elder Republican statesman, said President Obama was “directly responsible” for the terror attack in Orlando due to his failure to combat the rise of the Islamic State terror group.

McCain’s statement goes beyond the criticism of Obama that has been leveled by his Republican colleagues in the Senate, and it follows remarks made this week by presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who seemed to connect Obama to the attack in a Monday interview and on Wednesday tweeted an article claiming that Obama “actively supported” the terrorist group that became the Islamic State.

McCain made his remarks in a Senate hallway to a small group of reporters, responding to a question about the gun-control debate that has flared on Capitol Hill since the Sunday-morning shooting that left 49 clubgoers and the gunman dead. Obama on Thursday traveled to Orlando with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to pay his respects to victims’ families.

McCain answered the question about the gun debate by citing Obama’s culpability for the attack through his foreign policy: “Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when he pulled everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today thanks to Barack Obama’s failures,” McCain said.

He issued a clarification after taking some flack but the clarification did not back down from the central point

“I did not mean to imply that the President was personally responsible,” he said. “I was referring to President Obama’s national security decisions, not the President himself. As I have said, President Obama’s decision to completely withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011 led to the rise of ISIL. I and others have long warned that the failure of the President’s policy to deny ISIL safe haven would allow the terrorist organization to inspire, plan, direct or conduct attacks on the United States and Europe as they have done in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino and now Orlando.”

This is exactly right. When Obama came into office he inherited a global strategic situation where radical Islamic terrorism was receding. The Surge in Iraq had converted a hotbed of jihadism into a society that seemed capable of rejecting violence and trying to establish a civil society. Obama couldn’t countenance the idea that George Bush could do anything right. So he set about repudiating the gains purchased by American and Allied blood and treasure in Iraq. This beget ISIS. He and Hillary schemed to overthrow a friendly government in Egypt, to kill off a weak, toothless old brute in Libya, and to foment a civil war in Syria. It is due directly to the efforts of Obama and Hillary Clinton that San Bernardino and Orlando took place.

What McCain doesn’t say, also needs to be said. It is more than Obama’s complicity in the rise of radical Islamist terrorism, it is Obama’s unceasing campaign to put investigation of Muslims essentially off limits to US law enforcement agencies in the name of preventing “islamophobia” that has allowed these attacks to take place and has prevented law enforcement from unraveling conspiracies behind them.