While much of the news about Sony’s decision to cancel its distribution of a film that mocks communist North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has focused on First Amendment issues, a former congressman who served in the Reagan administration says the real problem is what the rest of the world now thinks of the U.S.
“When it comes to Obama, the North Koreans, as well as dictators around the world, know that whatever they do to us the administration’s response will be tepid at best,” said former Republican congressman and Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo.
“None of these threats would have emanated from these countries under the Reagan administration,” he said.
Tancredo also served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations from 1981 to 1992 and now is a columnist for WND.
Earlier this month, Sony Pictures began promoting “The Interview,” a comedy in which two American journalists are given the assignment of killing the North Korean dictator. In the end, Kim is shown being blown up when a missile strikes his helicopter.
North Korea has condemned the film, calling it an “act of war.” While saber rattling by the hermit kingdom is nothing new, it went further this time with the hackers threatening every movie theater in America that would show the film.
In response to the threats, rather than issue a warning of specific consequences for attacking Americans, President Obama simply told citizens not to worry about it.
In an interview Wednesday with ABC News, the president said he would let the American people know if there was a threat, concluding “my recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”
After major cinemas decided not to show the film amid the threats, Sony announced it would not release the film in any form, including pay-per-view, DVD and Internet streaming.
While some have said Sony’s decision made sense because the studio would be opening itself to liability, others on both the left and the right charge the media giant was giving in to censorship.
George Clooney, known for his left-wing views, attempted to circulate a petition of support for the film but was unable to find a single person in Hollywood willing to sign it. Clooney told Deadline Hollywood that Sony is setting a dangerous precedent.
“This affects not just movies, this affects every part of business that we have. That’s the truth,” Clooney said. “What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don’t like it? Forget the hacking part of it. You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down.”
On the other side of the political spectrum, Sean Hannity blasted Sony’s decision on both his radio show and his Fox News TV program, asking if the current leaders in Hollywood would have shied away from making anti-Nazi films during World War II.
“What happened to speaking truth to power?” asked Hannity. “Why do we have to suck up to a two-bit dictator? This is going to have major ramifications.”
However, Tancredo said while these are all valid issues, critics of Sony are missing the big picture: While it is one thing for a terrorist group to threaten violence against America, it is a quite different matter when the head of a foreign state does it.
“North Korea would have never dared make specific threats regarding an attack on American soil while Reagan was president,” Tancredo said. “The absence of power creates a vacuum, and when we withdraw from the world scene and abandon our leadership role, this creates a vacuum that will be filled by some entity somewhere.”
Tancredo said “these little dictators will then try to find out where they fit in this new international order created by a completely docile, almost impotent United States of America.”
“This is very dangerous, because when we create this perception people begin to realize that although individually they cannot take on the United States, these groups like ISIS, the Taliban, the Chinese and the Russians will band together to rush in to fill the void we have left. Once this happens it is very hard to get back on the top of the hill after you have come down off of it.”
Tancredo noted that when the anti-Soviet film “Red Dawn” came out in 1984 there was no similar reaction by the Soviets.
“I don’t recall any threats against America by the Soviets despite their being a bigger threat to America than North Korea is. The reason is they knew it wouldn’t have done any good.”
Following widespread condemnation of North Korea’s actions, the administration was finally forced to respond. However,rather than personally respond with an address to the American people and the world, the president instead had officials inform the media that the president would carry out a “proportional” response to North Korea.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said, though, that due to the nature of the response, the American people might not ever know the details.
“I don’t anticipate that we’ll be in a position where we’re going to be able to be completely forthcoming about every single element of the response that has been decided upon,” Earnest said.
The White House vagueness about what “proportional” means is another striking contrast between Reagan and Obama. After a series of terrorist attacks sponsored by Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, Reagan sent a carrier into the region as a show of force. Then, in April 1986, a bombing occurred in a West Berlin nightclub by East German Libyan agents that killed three people and injured 229, including an American soldier, Sgt. Kenneth Ford. A week later, Reagan ordered retaliatory airstrikes against Libya and the Gadhafi government in response to the bombing.
The U.S. counterattack consisted of nearly 50 Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force aircraft that dropped nearly 60 tons of munitions on the country on targets that included airbases, antiaircraft sites and Gadhafi’s personal residence, which resulted in the death of his son.
“Following Reagan’s response to Libya’s terrorist acts against Americans we put the fear of God in him,” Tancredo said. “After his son was killed, he was a good little boy and stopped being a state sponsor of terrorism.”