By Joseph Klein
Confronted with pure evil in the form of ISIS, President Barack Obama treats the jihadists as if they represented an isolated threat that can be dealt with on its own. ISIS (or ISIL as the U.S. government calls it, or the Islamic State as the jihadists now call themselves) has no relationship to Islam, according to the president and his Secretary of State John Kerry.
ISIS is “not Islamic,” Obama declared in his speech last week announcing the steps he intends to take to combat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. “And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.” It is “a terrorist organization, pure and simple,” Obama added.
In other words, according to the president, ISIS is for all intents and purposes made up of a bunch of nihilists who just engage in terrorism for terrorism’s sake. There is no purpose to what they are doing other than their pleasure in the deaths and mayhem they wreak, he would have us believe.
This fundamental misunderstanding of the enemy we are fighting will continue to result in Obama’s piecemeal muddle that passes for a “strategy.” Are we even in a war? It depends on which member of the Obama administration is speaking and on what day. When are we going to start bombing ISIS in Syria as the president said he was prepared to do in his speech last week? Are we waiting to put together a “coalition” to bring the fight to ISIS on the ground while we send in some military advisors and otherwise limit ourselves to air strikes?
Apparently so, since the president has already made clear to the enemy what we will not do. And talking about coalitions, it seems that ISIS has had more success in that arena. All Obama and Kerry have managed to do so far is to cobble together vague pledges from some countries without specific commitments that we know of to contribute combat troops. ISIS, on the other hand, has reportedly recruited fighters from around seventy countries. These fighters are committed to ISIS’s fight for a caliphate. And the idea that we can find and train enough reliable so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels to “partner” with, who are motivated to take on the jihadists with “boots on the ground,” is a joke.
Indeed, ISIS and its other jihadist cohorts do have a vision, contrary to Obama’s confusion of terrorist tactics with their endgame of Islamic supremacy. Terrorist tactics, along with stealth jihad tactics of infiltration and manipulation of our institutions, serve to achieve this endgame. And while different jihadist groups may squabble among themselves over who represents the purest form of Islam, they are united by their hatred of the “infidels” – and the intent to covert, subjugate or kill as many of us as possible. Whatever name they go by, whether it is ISIS, Hamas, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad or the Islamic Republic of Iran that supports some of these groups and others, they all represent an indivisible threat to global peace, security and individual liberties. They are, in short, part of a common enemy driven by the same pathological supremacist ideology.
Unlike President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees the threat and its animating ideology without rose-colored glasses. Addressing a conference of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Prime Minister Netanyahu described the repugnant vision as one of global supremacism.
We’ve seen this before. There’s a master race; now there’s a master faith. And that allows you to do anything to anyone, but first of all to your own people and then to everyone else… The goal is we establish a new Islamist dominion, first in the Middle East and in their warped thinking, throughout the world. They all agree on that. They are not limited in their scope to a territory. They’re not limited to borders.
While Obama went through the motions in commemorating the anniversary of 9/11 and has displayed moral confusion, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke eloquently with moral clarity about what is at stake for the civilized world:
I believe that the battle against these groups is indivisible and it’s important not to let any of these groups succeed anywhere because if they gain ground somewhere, they gain ground everywhere. And their setbacks are also felt everywhere. If they gain ground, if they were to succeed, they would return humanity to a primitive early medievalism … where women are treated as chattel, as property and gays are stoned and minorities persecuted if they’re left alive at all.
Prime Minister Netanyahu knows firsthand that a true leader cannot make excuses for jihadists who fancy themselves as custodians of the “master faith” of Islam, nor negotiate with them. It does not make any difference how they label themselves. They are all branches of “the same poisonous tree,” as the prime minister put it. “These groups have absolutely no moral or other impediment to their mad desires. Once they have massive power, they will unleash all their violence, all their ideological zeal, all their hatred, with weapons of mass death,” he added.
President Obama mistakenly believes that he can separate the branches of the poisonous tree and engage with some of them as if they were unrelated fruit trees. Thus, his fruitless outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood and to the Iranian regime.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is under no such illusion. With moral clarity, he understands the jihadist ideology of Islam supremacism that we are up against and what is at stake if we do not defeat it. President Obama does not, which places us at risk of another even deadlier attack on our homeland.