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Obama and Radical Islam
From President Barack Obama’s remarks, June 14, 2016, post-Orlando Massacre, on the status of the war on terror.
“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 this administration and me for not using the phrase ‘radical Islam.’ That’s the key, they tell us – we can’t beat ISIL unless we call them ‘radical Islamists.’ What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying 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. Since before I was President, I’ve been clear about how extremists groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism. As President, I have repeatedly 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 seven and a half years as President where we have not been 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 really use that phrase, we’re going to turn this whole thing around. Not once. So if someone seriously thinks that we don’t know who we’re fighting, if there’s anyone out there who thinks we’re confused about who our enemies are, that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists who we’ve taken off the battlefield....
“So there’s no magic to the phrase ‘radical Islam.’ It’s a political talking point; it’s 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 Qaeda 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 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 with a broad brush and imply that we are at war with an entire religion – then we’re doing the terrorists’ work for them.” [whitehouse.gov]
As Dr. Sebastian Gorka said after, Obama was “passionate in his petulance.”
Editorial / Wall Street Journal
“Sunday’s massacre in Orlando contradicts President Obama’s many attempts to downplay the risks that Islamic State poses to the U.S. homeland, so it’s no wonder he wants to change the subject to something more congenial. To wit, his disdain for Donald Trump and Republicans. ‘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 this Administration and me for not using the phrase ‘radical Islam,’’ Mr. Obama said Tuesday, using his preferred acronym for Islamic State. ‘That’s the key, they tell us. We cannot beat ISIL unless we call them ‘radical Islamists.’ What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change?’
“Since the President asked, allow us to answer. We’re unaware of any previous American war fought against an enemy it was considered indecorous or counterproductive to name. Dwight Eisenhower routinely spoke of ‘international Communism’ as an enemy. FDR said ‘Japan’ or ‘Japanese’ 15 times in his 506-word declaration of war after Pearl Harbor. If the U.S. is under attack, Americans deserve to hear their President say exactly who is attacking us and why. You cannot effectively wage war, much less gauge an enemy’s strengths, without a clear idea of who you are fighting.
“Mr. Obama’s refusal to speak of ‘radical Islam’ also betrays his failure to understand the sources of Islamic State’s legitimacy and thus its allure to young Muslim men. The threat is religious and ideological.
“Islamic State sees itself as the vanguard of a religious movement rooted in a literalist interpretation of Islamic scriptures that it considers binding on all Muslims everywhere. A small but significant fraction of Muslims agree with that interpretation, which is why Western law enforcement agencies must pay more attention to what goes on inside mosques than in Christian Science reading rooms.”
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