Who needs bloggers when you’ve got President Obama

Obama makes this point as well as any blog or Op-Ed I’ve read on the matter:

And let me make a final point. For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize the administration and me for not using the phrase “radical Islam.” That’s the key, they tell us. We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them radical Islamists.

What exactly would using this label would accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this?

The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction. [emphases mine]

Since before I was president, I have been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism. As president, I have called on our Muslim friends and allies at home and around the world to work with us to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world’s great religions.

There has not been a moment in my 7.5 years as president where we have not able to pursue a strategy because we didn’t use the label “radical Islam.” Not once has an adviser of mine said, “Man, if we use that phrase, we are going to turn this whole thing around,” not once.

So someone seriously thinks that we don’t know who we are fighting?

If there is anyone out there who thinks we are confused about who our enemies are — that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists who we have taken off the battlefield.

If the implication is that those of us up here and the thousands of people around the country and around world who are working to defeat ISIL aren’t taking the fight seriously? That would come as a surprise to those who spent these last 7.5 years dismantling Al Qaida in the FATA, for example — including the men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk, and the special forces that I ordered to get bin Laden and are now on the ground in Iraq and in Syria.

They know full well who the enemy is. So do the intelligence and law enforcement officers who spend countless hours disrupting plots and protecting all Americans — including politicians who tweet and appears on cable news shows.

They know who the nature of the enemy is. So, there is no magic to the phrase “radical Islam.” It is a political talking point. It is not a strategy.

And the reason I am careful about how I describe this threat has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism.

Groups like ISIL and Al Qaida want to make this war a war between Islam and America, or between Islam and the West. They want to claim that they are the true leaders of over a billion of Muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions.

They want us to validate them by implying that they speak for those billion-plus people, that they speak for Islam. That’s their propaganda, that’s how they recruit. And if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims as a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with the entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists’ work for them.

No matter how much one may disagree with Obama about various aspects of foreign policy there’s really no arguing with this.  Spot-on and well said.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

12 Responses to Who needs bloggers when you’ve got President Obama

  1. Jon K says:

    I find it interesting to watch the GOP leaders distance themselves from Trump’s most odious and offensive ideas yet they still are supporting him against HRC. I wonder how long this dissonance can go on before it becomes either untenable or absurd.

    I also watched about 7 minutes of Trump in Greensboro. That was about all I could stomach. He’s pushing a message that is incredibly dangerous. He’s playing to people’s worst instincts. His message was basically that we can’t trust any Muslims so we shouldn’t be letting any into the country. He suggests that Obama is ‘sneaking’ dangerous people into states and cities all over the country and leaving governors and other officials in the dark about what is going on. He is essentially saying that Obama is knowingly allowing terrorism to fester in our cities. I couldn’t believe he would say such crazy things. It was extremely disturbing the way his supporters actually believe what he is saying. It just reminded me that a large segment of this country doesn’t concern itself with facts, truth, or reality. They’d rather just have their emotions appealed to and their fears stoked.

  2. R.Jenrette says:

    Remember, it takes a lot less effort to listen to emotional pitches in a hyped up environment than it is to hear a statement, think it through, listen to those opposing the statement, research the idea and then rationally analyze it from what you have learned.
    That is way too much brain work for many people.
    I’m not sure how many high school graduates even know how to analyze emotional pitches or were ever taught how. Teachers know how dangerous it is to analyze certain propaganda in the classroom.

  3. rgbact says:

    Ugh, I have a peeve about commentary like “theres no real argument with this”. Something about liberals that they think so many things really really aren’t debatable. Obama’s speech was toxic. He’s lucky that Trump is worse I suppose

    • Steve Greene says:

      What was debatable? What was toxic?

      • rgbact says:

        Everything is always debatable. Obama lashing out at Republicans a few days after a mass murder was toxic. I’m not surprised liberals loved it though. I’m not so sure Hillary will want him on the campaign stump talking about ISIS though. She’s already caved on “radical Islam”.

      • Steve Greene says:

        Really, Obama responding to the absurdity of Trump’s statement is “toxic”? Sad :-).

    • Jeremy Tarone says:

      Then why can’t you advance an argument against what he said?

      “Obama lashing out at Republicans a few days after a mass murder was toxic. ” (From your next comment)
      It’s not toxic, it’s the truth. Republicans have been advancing the NRA’s agenda of allowing anyone and everyone to have firearms. The Republicans have put through legislation that has made Americans less safe. They have blocked governmental agencies from studying firearm incidents like shootings, homicides, smuggling. They have passed laws preventing authorities from doing their job and stopping smuggling.

      They have even passed laws preventing doctors from talking to patients about safe gun storage in Florida, and made doctors who do talk to patients about firearms subject to penalties. An egregious attack on first amendment rights that will likely be struck down in the courts, after taxpayers have paid for long drawn out battles.

      ATF and Smuggling
      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/us/legislative-handcuffs-limit-atfs-ability-to-fight-gun-crime.html
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/2012/12/17/ef280abc-4877-11e2-b6f0-e851e741d196_story.html
      http://www.vpc.org/studies/felons.htm

      • rgbact says:

        You listed a bunch of irrelevant nonsense that didn’t have much to do with stopping terrorists. Deflections….just like Obama.

        As for Obama’s toxic speech, it was simply bizarre him ranting about the right’s “radical Islam” obsession given how the PC crowd obsesses about the proper use of words……even though that alone won’t solve bigger problems. Even more ironic……this is a president who called ISIS a “JV team, called Benghazi a misunderstanding about a video, called Major Hassan’s murder rampage “workplace violence” and was dancing with the Cuban Castros when ISIS was killing people in Brussels. So, he seems in serious denial……but does like lashing out at his real enemy, Republicans.

    • Jeremy Tarone says:

      Yes, anything is debatable. That doesn’t make it a good or sound argument. After all, if you had a good or sound argument, you would have used it instead of just saying the more wordy equivalent of “Nu uh.”

  4. Jeremy Tarone says:

    Obama stating a terrorist or terrorism is being fought by radical Islamism would do many things. The first and most important would be telling Muslims around the world that they can’t just ignore the fact that the radicals are Islamic, contrary to what many Muslims say.

    Support from Muslims around the world for Islamist ideas is quite strong, contrary to what many left and far left bloggers say. Support for forcing a caliphate and sharia law onto everyone ranges from 90 percent highs to 30 percent lows in most Muslim majority countries. Indeed, support in Great Britian in the Muslim community for a caliphate and sharia law is around 30 percent.
    In other words, 30 percent of Muslims in the UK want to get rid of democracy, freedom of speech and many other rights and replace them with a Muslim theocracy that forces Islam onto all.

    Many of these same Muslims reject ISIS, or say they do, but they support many of the ideas and goals of ISIS. They don’t realize that their goals are the same.
    We will NEVER win a war against violent Islamism until we get Muslims who want theocracies and sharia law to understand that their ideas lead to ISIS and other similar terrorist organizations. It’s no surprise that most countries with significant Islamic populations have separatist Islamist organizations that use violence to achieve their goals.

    The USA’s ally Saudi Arabia has been exporting extremist Islam all over the world for some 50 years. It’s no coincidence that radical Islamism has been growing all over the world for the last 50 years. Yet the USA continues to be allied to Saudi Arabia. The USA continues to sell military equipment to Saudi Arabia, a country with a terrible human rights record, and exports terrorism.
    The Saudi princes who are against extremism (who woke up after their own country was attacked) can not control their Imams. Some of the princes support and funnel funds to the Imams. That is where they get their funding for extremist mosques and terrorist organizations. Is the Suadi or US Government doing anything of substance? No. The Saudis hold massive amount of US debt, and the US is afraid of them putting the debt on the open market, flooding the world with US debt, driving down the US dollar. So the US does little but direct military action against terrorist targets, and a bit of interdiction of terrorist funding.

    What’s needed is truth and recognition of reality. That huge numbers of Muslims hold pernicious beliefs that are contrary to Western civilization as we know it. Huge numbers of Muslims want to expand their beliefs across the world. Islam is both a religion and a political system, it’s expansionist and designed to be so. It also has a great deal of support in the Quran and hadith for violent expansionism. ISIS and other Islamists have support for their views in the Quran and Hadith.

    Most Muslims believe their religion has nothing to do with Islamism. They are not helped by many on the left who coddle them, pat them on the head like little children and tell them they are right when they are not right. Nothing will be accomplished when the main problem is the pernicious ideas that lead to violence.

    The West has largely dropped the worst parts of Christianity, but here we are in the 21st century, and Republicans are preaching homosexuality is an abomination. Because it’s in the Bible.

    Islamism is in many ways similar to how Republicans behave. Republicans have a base of supporters who see an occasional lunatic in their party, but they refuse to admit the lunatics are logical conclusions of their party’s bad ideas brought to fruition. They use certain issues to get the base excited and get them out to vote, but then deny culpability when supporters act on it. When Trump supporters beat up immigrants. Or preach that killing homosexuals is God’s plan.
    The majority of Republicans don’t hate gay people, but the constant diatribes against gays and lesbians and transgendered eventually produce stupid male Republicans who harass women who are going to the bathroom in order to protect them from “perverts”. It produces Republicans who say gays and lesbians should be executed.

    It’s not a big shock to see Islamic countries where homosexuals are executed. Where apostates are executed. Where women are stoned for adultery (but rarely men). It’s not surprising to see women are treated like second class citizens, and chattel. Beaten by husbands, and sanctioned by law. It’s not surprising to see the next level of violence for organizations like ISIS, when the religion is at heart a fundamentalist religion with a great deal of justification for atrocities in their sacred texts.
    In Islamic countries, and the vast majority of Muslim mosques homosexuals are said to be evil, dirty and wrong. They do the same to Jews. Because that is what the Quran says, and the Quran is the word of God.

    To pretend Islamism has nothing to do with Islam, is to ignore the fundamental basis of the problem. The people who need the most support are liberal Muslims. Unfortunately, except in the West most liberal Muslims are at best harassed, at worst killed when they dare to speak up.
    Many more liberal Muslims don’t believe that ISIS or any other Islamist organizations have anything to do with Islam. Which is crazy.

    How can we stop violent Islamism when the majority of Muslims on our side don’t even think Islamism has anything to do with Islam? We can’t stop Islamism unless we have Muslims helping us. But the majority don’t believe Islamism has anything to do with Islam, and they don’t see the connection between Islam and the pernicious belief system it instills in many Muslims. The few that do are harassed by the Western liberal left when they stick up for Muslim gays, Muslim women and minorities.

    You can’t solve a problem if you can’t even admit what the problem is.

  5. Jeremy Tarone says:

    It seems the CIA agrees, at least on the point the West isn’t getting anywhere with current tactics:

    We judge that ISIL is training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks. ISIL has a large cadre of Western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West. And the group is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including refugee flows, smuggling routes, and legitimate methods of travel,” CIA Director John Brennan will tell the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning.

    Brennan also says despite all the efforts by the U.S. against ISIS, it has not stopped the group.

    “Unfortunately, despite all our progress against ISIL on the battlefield and in the financial realm, our efforts have not reduced the group’s terrorism capability and global reach,” Brennan will say.

    “The resources needed for terrorism are very modest, and the group would have to suffer even heavier losses of territory, manpower and money for its terrorist capacity to decline significantly,” Brennan will say. “In fact, as the pressure mounts on ISIL, we judge that it will intensify its global terror campaign to maintain its dominance of the global terrorism agenda.”

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