National Security

It Will Take More Than Words of Outrage to Defeat ISIL

Foley's beheading prompted Obama to make a statement.

Aug. 21, 2014
Fist-bumping on the golf course Wednesday

Jihadis with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gruesomely beheaded American journalist James Foley, whom they kidnapped in 2012 in Syria. They posted video of the murder online to taunt the United States. Before his execution, Foley was forced to read a statement condemning “my real killers, the U.S. government.” He said the Obama administration “hit the last nail in my coffin with the recent aerial campaign in Iraq.” Finally, “I wish I wasn’t an American.” Beside him was Steven Joel Sotloff, another American journalist and one of perhaps three other Americans under threat of death depending on Barack Obama’s “next decision.”

It’s a grisly reminder of the barbaric nature of our enemy.

The Pentagon released a report saying it had attempted a Special Forces mission to rescue Foley earlier this summer. A fierce firefight occurred in Syria – the first acknowledged “boots on the ground” in that country – and one U.S. soldier was injured. But the mission failed to free Foley or Sotloff because they were not present where intelligence said they would be.

Clearly, the administration released this information to save face after Foley’s murder, though they claim it was to preempt imminent media reports. Publicly detailing a Special Forces operation was incredibly foolish, as it greatly compromises sources, methods and future operational capabilities.

Left out of the White House account, however, was the inconvenient report that Foley and Sotloff were captured by the Dawood Brigade, a group that defected to ISIL from the Free Syria Army – the “moderate” rebels backed by the administration.

Perhaps the whole thing would have worked out if Obama had simply traded five more Gitmo detainees.

The president took time to call Foley’s family, which is a step rarely taken for the families of U.S. Armed Forces personnel killed in service to their country. Obama also made a statement Wednesday regarding the murder, if only to remind the press how important they are to him and to show the country that he cares. At least in between rounds of golf. He headed straight for the golf course immediately following the statement. Compare that to British Prime Minister David Cameron, who cut his vacation short to consider action given the jihadi in the murder video spoke with a British accent.

To be fair, Obama began with appropriately touching words about Foley and his family, and he had stern words for his murderers: “Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers. Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages – killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children, and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims – both Sunni and Shia – by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people.” That’s well said.

Unfortunately, the president then ventured into politically correct nonsense about Islam. “ISIL speaks for no religion,” he said, neglecting the fact that “Islamic” is the first word in the group’s name. “Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” He might want to check his copy of the Koran. It contains numerous verses calling on faithful Muslims to kill infidels. It’s where the term “jihad” originates – Koran-prescribed holy war against unbelievers, and if other Muslims get in the way, so be it. There are indeed peaceful Muslims, but to deny ugly reality and insist that Islam is only The Religion of Peace™ is either ignorant or disingenuous.

Obama also dismissed the idea of war: “[ISIL] may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision, and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.” Just because he doesn’t have the stomach for a fight doesn’t tell us anything about ISIL.

“The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people,” he declared. “We will be vigilant and we will be relentless.” He promised a “common effort to extract this cancer, so that it does not spread.”

Yet his tough words don’t match his actions. He couldn’t wait to get every U.S. soldier out of Iraq in 2011, and he’s bent over backwards to avoid sending more than a relative handful back now despite the sweeping advances of ISIL over wide swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. Instead, he’s called ISIL the “JV team” and dismissed the threat. The cancer has spread, and it’s thanks to the vacuum he left by abandoning Iraq.

The Associated Press reports, “[M]ilitary planners weighed the possibility of sending a small number of additional U.S. troops to Baghdad.” U.S. forces also conducted more airstrikes, bringing the total to well over 80 since our involvement resumed. That’s all well and good, but it’s defensive and will do nothing to dislodge ISIL from it’s so-called caliphate.

“[P]eople like [ISIL] ultimately fail,” Obama pontificated Wednesday. “They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy.” And, he assured, “One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.” Translation: ISIL is on the “wrong side of history” – one of Obama’s favorite formulations used to spurn his political opponents. But ISIL won’t be defeated simply because Obama says they’re mean relics of another century. Unfortunately, those paying the price for Obama’s foreign policy malfeasance will be those in the military. And those of us in our humble shop with family members serving don’t say that lightly.

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