Although I’m not a fan of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s judicial philosophy, I have to admire her method of avoiding listening to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. She snoozed through his snoozer by the simple expedient of consuming a few glasses of wine at a pre-speech dinner.

But unlike Justice Ginsburg, we can’t sleep through what’s coming.

Obama’s denial of the nature of civilization’s savage enemies, which continued in his “anti-extremism” summit this week, ignores the experience of a terror-tossed Europe and a Middle East that has gone from being merely ablaze to approaching a raging inferno.

Jordan and Egypt are launching their own independent air strikes against the rampaging Islamic State, which has moved from videos of beheading individual Westerners to doing the same to Christians by the double dozen, along with slaughtering them and other Muslim and non-Muslim victims by the thousands off-screen.

Our “lead-from-behind” removal of Moammar Gadhafi from Libya has left a chaotic terror haven in its wake, while casualties in Syria near the quarter-million mark.

Thus we daily grow closer and closer to the outbreak of a major regional war in the Mideast.


And that doesn’t count what’s brewing in Ukraine, Moldova and the Baltic states, under serious threat from Vlad the Impaler, the new Czar of All the Russias.

Nor does it include what’s slowly building in the South China Sea, where Beijing is upgrading its navy and rattling its nuclear missiles at Taiwan, Japan and the Philippines.

Yet, our leaders, as little as they deserve such a title, continue to play footsie with the Iranians, no longer trying to dissuade them from building nuclear bombs, but only trying to put off the day of reckoning until at least the day after Obama’s successor is sworn in.

Indeed, a government that thinks terrorists are motivated by a lack of jobs, as the State Department’s Marie Harf said earlier this week, is so out of touch it’s frightening.

Now our president wants Congress to pass a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which seeks repeal of the 2002 authorization for military action in Iraq, prohibits the use of ground forces for “enduring combat” in the region (whatever that means), and expires after three years.

As National Review noted in a Feb. 13 editorial, this is a hopelessly weak response to burgeoning terrorist threats: “Restrictions on the conduct of a war are an inappropriate directive for Congress to give to the commander-in-chief, and the only kind of president who would ask for them is one who hopes to share the blame for failure.”


Americans are understandably wary of massive new troop commitments, but getting there by drips and drabs — like the 4,000 combat troops Obama has just dispatched to Kuwait — is a poor alternative.

A better one exists, and reports this week that the administration plans to form a joint Iraqi-Kurdish force to recapture the city of Mosul from the jihadists is a welcome first step, because ground offensives are where the only chance of success exists.

One modern Cassandra, respected military historian Victor Davis Hansen, wrote last Dec. 4, “The ancient ingredients of war are all on the horizon. An old postwar order crumbles amid American indifference. Hopes for true democracy in post-Soviet Russia, newly capitalist China or ascendant Turkey long ago were dashed. Tribalism, fundamentalism and terrorism are the norms in the Middle East as the nation-state disappears.

“Under such conditions, history’s wars usually start when some opportunistic — but often relatively weaker — power does something unwise on the gamble that the perceived benefits outweigh the risks. … A large war is looming, one that will be far more costly than the preventative vigilance that might have stopped it.”

That’s why we should pay close attention to the words of a serious national leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, when he addresses Congress on March 3.

In a speech Monday, he explained why he was going to Washington: “I think the whole point of Zionism is that the Jewish people would no longer be spectators to the decision-making that determines our fate. Remember, we were once powerless. We were once voiceless. We couldn’t even speak on our own behalf. Well, we can and we do now….

“I don’t see this issue in partisan terms. … I think the pursuit of nuclear weapons by Iran is the most urgent security challenge facing the world. … Everything that we see in our region now will pale by comparison. Everything that we see in Europe will pale by comparison. … Such a regime with nuclear weapons would be infinitely more dangerous to everyone, not only to Israel.”

So, unlike Justice Ginsburg, I won’t be drinking before Netanyahu’s speech. Vitally important messages require hearing by unimpaired ears.

M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a freelance writer and speaker. Email at:

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