Over at PamelaGeller.com I dissected Obama’s grand strategy for defeating the Islamic State.
Platitudes, self-righteousness, distortions, tortured reasoning, self-promotion — that’s right, it’s another major speech by Barack Obama. Comments interspersed below.
“Remarks by President Obama at the Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism,” United Nations Headquarters, September 29, 2015:
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, heads of state and government. Last year, here at the United Nations, I called on the world to unite against the evil that is ISIL, or Daesh, and to eradicate the scourge of violent extremism. And I challenged countries to return to the General Assembly this year with concrete steps that we can take together.
He challenged countries? It was up to them to come up with concrete steps to beat ISIS? This from a man who confessed in August 2014 that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to beat the Islamic State, and said in June 2015 that the U.S. had no “complete strategy” for training Iraqis to fight the Islamic State. Apparently he was waiting for other countries to draw up a strategy for him. Putin obliged him, but he rejected that one.
I want to thank everyone who is here today, including my fellow leaders, for answering this call. We are joined by representatives from more than 100 nations, more than 20 multilateral institutions, some 120 civil society groups from around the world, and partners from the private sector. I believe what we have here today is the emergence of a global movement that is united by the mission of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL.
He used that language before. Since then, the Islamic State has only grown in strength, while Obama’s Pentagon had to resort to falsifying data to make it look as if Obama’s cosmetic airstrikes were successful.
Together, we’re pursuing a comprehensive strategy that is informed by our success over many years in crippling the al Qaeda core in the tribal regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we are harnessing all of our tools — military, intelligence, economic, development and the strength of our communities.
The al Qaeda core in Afghanistan is crippled? But al Qaeda’s ally, the Taliban, just took Kunduz in northern Afghanistan, a major city far from its usual sphere of influence. The Taliban doesn’t seem crippled at all.
Now, I have repeatedly said that our approach will take time. This is not an easy task. We have ISIL taking root in areas that already are suffering from failed governance, in some cases; in some cases, civil war or sectarian strife. And as a consequence of the vacuum that exists in many of these areas, ISIL has been able to dig in. They have shown themselves to be resilient, and they are very effective through social media and have been able to attract adherents not just from the areas in which they operate, but in many of our own countries.
They’re not attracting adherents because they’re effective through social media. That’s just the medium; the message is what attracts adherents. But Obama is bound as a matter of policy to ignore their message, so he has to pretend that the way they package it is what counts. And then he has the audacity to say we must combat their ideology — an ideology he has consistently refused to acknowledge even exists:
There are going to be successes and there are going to be setbacks. This is not a conventional battle. This is a long-term campaign — not only against this particular network, but against its ideology. And so with the few minutes I have, I want to provide a brief overview of where we stand currently.
Our coalition has grown to some 60 nations, including our Arab partners. Together, we welcome three new countries to our coalition — Nigeria, Tunisia and Malaysia. Nearly two dozen nations are in some way contributing to the military campaign, and we salute and are grateful for all the servicemembers from our respective nations who are performing with skill and determination.
Nigeria is the home of Boko Haram, which has allied with the Islamic State. Tunisia has sent a huge number of jihadis to join the Islamic State. It is likely that there are more Nigerians and Tunisians on the side of the Islamic State than will be joining the coalition against it.
In Iraq, ISIL continues to hold Mosul, Fallujah and Ramadi. But Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air power, have liberated towns across Kirkuk province and Tikrit. ISIL has now lost nearly a third of the populated areas in Iraq that it had controlled. Eighteen countries are now helping to train and support Iraqi forces, including Sunni volunteers who want to push ISIL out of their communities. And, Prime Minister Abadi, I want to note the enormous sacrifices being made by Iraqi forces and the Iraqi people in this fight every day.
Obama’s claims about the Islamic State losing territory have already been discredited.
In Syria, which has obviously been a topic of significant discussion during the course of this General Assembly, we have seen support from Turkey that has allowed us to intensify our air campaign there. ISIL has been pushed back from large sections of northeastern Syria, including the key city of Tal Abyad, putting new pressure on its stronghold of Raqqa. And ISIL has been cut off from almost the entire region bordering Turkey, which is a critical step toward stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters.
One step forward, two steps back: Turkey is more interested in fighting the Kurds than fighting the Islamic State. Turkish attacks on the Kurds weaken the most effective ground force currently facing the Islamic State. The U.S. has been accused of selling out the Kurds to gain Turkish support against ISIS, and that support has been meager in any case.
Following the special Security Council meeting I chaired last year, more than 20 additional countries have passed or strengthened laws to disrupt the flow of foreign terrorist fighters. We share more information and we are strengthening border controls. We’ve prevented would-be fighters from reaching the battlefield and returning to threaten our countries. But this remains a very difficult challenge, and today we’re going to focus on how we can do more together. In conjunction with this summit, the United States and our partners are also taking new steps to crack down on the illicit finance that ISIL uses to pay its fighters, fund its operations and launch attacks.
How successful has the U.S. been in stopping foreign jihadis from joining ISIS? Now 30,000 foreign jihadis from 100 countries have joined the Islamic State.
Our military and intelligence efforts are not going to succeed alone; they have to be matched by political and economic progress to address the conditions that ISIL has exploited in order to take root. Prime Minister Abadi is taking important steps to build a more inclusive and accountable government, while working to stabilize areas taken back from ISIL. And our nations need to help Prime Minister Abadi in these efforts.
In Syria, as I said yesterday, defeating ISIL requires — I believe — a new leader and an inclusive government that unites the Syrian people in the fight against terrorist groups. This is going to be a complex process. And as I’ve said before, we are prepared to work with all countries, including Russia and Iran, to find a political mechanism in which it is possible to begin a transition process.
Obama’s repeated claims that the Islamic State can only be defeated if Assad is removed is based on the assumption that ISIS is not Islamic, and is just an opposition group to Assad, so that if Assad is gone, the Islamic State will vanish. Putin’s view is more realistic: he knows ISIS is Islamic, and claims to be the caliphate, and has global ambitions. He knows that if Assad falls, the Islamic State will be the main beneficiary.
As ISIL’s tentacles reach into other regions, the United States is increasing our counterterrorism cooperation with partners, like Tunisia. We’re boosting our support to Nigeria and its neighbors as they push back against Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to ISIL. And we’re creating a new clearinghouse to better coordinate the world’s support for countries’ counterterrorism programs so that our efforts are as effective as possible.
Ultimately, however, it is not going to be enough to defeat ISIL in the battlefield. We have to prevent it from radicalizing, recruiting and inspiring others to violence in the first place. And this means defeating their ideology. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they’re defeated by better ideas — a more attractive and compelling vision. Building on our White House summit earlier this year, and summits around the world since then, we’re moving ahead, together, in several areas.
Ideologies are not defeated by guns? Really? Yet if National Socialism and Shinto militarism were not defeated by guns, what defeated them? Any serious and thoroughgoing effort to refute them as ideologies came after the guns had stopped firing, during the occupation of Germany and Japan, when the Allies worked to turn the hearts of the citizenry away from the beliefs in which they had been relentlessly indoctrinated for years.
What’s more, the United States is not trying to defeat the Islamic State, or the global jihad in general, with “a more attractive and more compelling vision.” Instead, we supervised the installations of constitutions that enshrined Sharia as the highest law of the land in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Imposing Sharia is the goal of all jihad groups, including the Islamic State. The United States has never stood in Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else, for the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, equality of rights for women, etc. — all of which are denied in Sharia. In other words, we didn’t counter their ideas with a more attractive and compelling vision. We didn’t counter them at all, and still aren’t doing so, because to do so would be considered “Islamophobic.”
How is Obama going to counter their ideology when he won’t even acknowledge what it is? Three years ago, his administration banned the truth about Islam and jihad from counterterror training, bowing to the demands of Muslim, Arab and Pakistani organizations that wrote to John Brennan claiming that FBI and other agents were being imbued with “Islamophobia.” Since then, Obama, Brennan, John Kerry, Joe Biden and other Administration spokesmen have steadfastly refused to acknowledge that Islamic jihad has anything to do with Islam whatsoever – thus foreclosing upon any possibility that the United States will confront the jihad ideology in any serious or effective manner.
We’re stepping up our efforts to discredit ISIL’s propaganda, especially online. The UAE’s new messaging hub — the Sawab Center — is exposing ISIL for what it is, which is a band of terrorists that kills innocent Muslim men, women and children. We’re working to lift up the voices of Muslim scholars, clerics and others — including ISIL defectors — who courageously stand up to ISIL and its warped interpretations of Islam.
It’s interesting that he says that the Islamic State’s killing innocent Muslims is what will discredit them. He seems to know that their killing of non-Muslims won’t sway Muslims to oppose them. And as for the clerics and scholars who are exposing the Islamic State’s “warped interpretation of Islam,” does he mean these, who endorsed the concept of the caliphate, as well as jihad and dhimmitude in the course of condemning the Islamic State?
We recognize that we have to confront the economic grievances that exist in some of the areas that ISIL seeks to exploit. Poverty does not cause terrorism. But as we’ve seen across the Middle East and North Africa, when people, especially young people, are impoverished and hopeless and feel humiliated by injustice and corruption, that can fuel resentments that terrorists exploit. Which is why sustainable development — creating opportunity and dignity, particularly for youth — is part of countering violent extremism.
We recognize we also have to address the political grievances that ISIL exploits. I’ve said this before — when human rights are denied and citizens have no opportunity to redress their grievances peacefully, it feeds terrorist propaganda that justifies violence. Likewise, when political opponents are treated like terrorists and thrown in jail, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. So the real path to lasting stability and progress is not less democracy; I believe it is more democracy in terms of free speech, and freedom of religion, rule of law, strong civil societies. All that has to play a part in countering violent extremism.
So he is going to address their poverty, even while admitting that poverty doesn’t cause terrorism, and their political grievances. In doing these things, he thinks their religious vision will fade away. This is, of course, because he refuses to face it for what it is, has no idea of its strength, and won’t believe it has anything to do with Islam. The result will be that he will shower money on Muslim countries and make political concessions to them, and then, to his dismay, will find that the jihad continues.
And finally, we recognize that our best partners in protecting vulnerable people from succumbing to violent extremist ideologies are the communities themselves — families, friends, neighbors, clerics, faith leaders who love and care for these young people.
Remember that violent extremism is not unique to any one faith, so no one should be profiled or targeted simply because of their faith. Yet we have to recognize that ISIL is targeting Muslim communities around the world, especially individuals who may be disillusioned or confused or wrestling with their identities.
“No one should be profiled or targeted simply because of their faith.” If he was referring to attacks on innocent Muslims, of course, no innocent Muslims should suffer any harm or injustice. He seemed to be saying more than that. The idea that it is wrong to fight Islamic jihad by paying attention to Muslim communities more than Baptist or Jewish or Hindu or Amish communities is absurd. Islamic jihad is committed by Muslims. Obama won’t even call it Islamic jihad or admit that it is a specifically Muslim phenomenon, and insofar as he diverts any resources to tracking “right-wing extremism” on the basis of bogus studies, he makes us all less safe.
But as far as Obama is concerned, that the Islamic State is “targeting Muslim communities” makes Muslims the victims, deserving of special favors:
And in all our countries, we have to continue to build true partnerships with Muslim communities, based on trust and cooperation, so that they can help protect their loved ones from becoming radicalized. This cannot just be the work of government. It is up to all of us. We have to commit ourselves to build diverse, tolerant, inclusive societies that reject anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry that creates the divisions, the fear and the resentments upon which extremists can prey.
Islamic advocacy groups have worked for years to stigmatize all resistance to jihad terror as “bigotry.” Now the President of the United States is echoing their talking points.
…Like terrorists and tyrants throughout history, ISIL will eventually lose because it has nothing to offer but suffering and death. And when you look at the reports of those who are laboring under their control, it is a stark and brutal life that does not appeal to people over the long term. So we will ultimately prevail because we are guided by a stronger, better vision: a commitment to the security, opportunity and dignity of every human being. But it will require diligence, focus and sustained effort by all of us. And I am grateful that all of you who are already participating are committed to this work.
In reality, he never dares articulate that “stronger, better vision” in anything but platitudes. To do so in any realistic manner would require he discuss Islam and Sharia. And he will never do that.