Four observations prompted by the Paris attack

1. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn used to make fun of American journalists — so “courageous” when operating under protection in the U.S.; so cowed when working in the Soviet Union. The same tendency is evident these days.

News organizations “heroically” attack American politicians they dislike and expose secret efforts to curb terrorism, safe in the knowledge that the U.S. government will leave them be. But when it comes to the cartoons over which Islamists commit murder, the images of Mohammad must not be shown.

2. Speaking of courage, why does President Obama persist in calling terrorists like the Paris attackers “cowards”? These men risked their lives (and one of them is dead) to accomplish their political and religious goals. If they were cowards, they would stay at home and collect welfare from the French government.

To call terrorists cowards is to underestimate them. To take them seriously is to recognize that they are bold soldiers in a war to destroy Western Civilization.

But that would mean acknowledging that there is such a war (and such a thing as Western Civilization). Obama would prefer not to.

3. “Cowardly” might not be the best word to describe Obama’s attempts to “end” the war on terrorism by unilaterally declaring it over (or receding). But it’s close to the mark. Willful blindness is a form of cowardice.

Obama could demonstrate courage by admitting that this war continues and, indeed, has escalated. It isn’t easy to admit being mugged by reality or to risk alienating the one segment of the electorate that still supports him. For this reason, among others, the egomaniacal Obama is highly unlikely to do so.

4. Short of confessing error, Obama could quietly stop releasing terrorists who are being held at Gitmo. Given the recidivism rate for such terrorists, it is criminal to be releasing them at a time when terrorism is on the increase worldwide. In effect, we are supplying terrorists (very tough, very experienced terrorists) to our deadly enemies.

More broadly, it should be the policy of all Western governments to throw the book at those who show themselves to be aligned with any terrorist movement. Cherif Kouachi, one of the gunmen in today’s Paris attack reportedly was sentenced to three years in prison in Paris (lucky for Obama it wasn’t Gitmo) for helping to funnel jihadi fighters from France to Iraq. He served only 18 months.

The sentence should have been longer and should not have been suspended. Western governments need to figure out how to maximize prison time for terrorists and those who conspire with them. And they need to stop freeing terrorists gratuitously, as Obama does.

If common sense policies like keeping terrorists in jail worked a hardship (the way, for example, that sending armies to fight them does), it would be easier to understand the softness of Obama and other Western leaders. But there is no true hardship, except on the terrorists.

For Obama, there is only ideological hardship. But for him, that may be the worst kind.