7:15 AM, Sep 16, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that to counter the ideology of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its claim of a "religious foundation" for its actions, part of the strategy of the international coalition he is attempting to assemble must be to "begin to put real Islam out there." Kerry, in Paris for talks with various world leaders to build that coalition, further said that all of the Arab leaders he had spoken with earlier concurred about their focus on "real Islam and how important the Friday sermons are." The secretary of state recently said that ISIL's ideology "has nothing to do with Islam" and President Obama echoed these words, saying that "ISIL is not 'Islamic.'"
Kerry's remarks about "real Islam" came during a "roundtable discussion" with the press after the secretary met with representatives from twenty-six countries to discuss how to confront the threat posed by ISIL. In recent days Kerry has alternated between calling the action against ISIL "war" and "counter-terrorism," but in any case he downplayed the military aspect of the operation. The military piece, he said, is a "critical component", but "probably far more important" will be the effort to "start drying up this pool of jihadis who get seduced into believing there’s some virtue in crossing into Syria to fight or to join ISIL."
Here are Kerry's "real Islam" remarks in context [emphasis added]:
Now, as I said today – you guys weren’t in there, but I said it in this meeting – the military piece is one piece. It’s one component of this. It’s a critical component, but it’s only one component. And the truth is, equally – probably far more important than the military in the end is going to be what countries are able to do to help Iraq to be able to step up and other places, by the way, to step up and start drying up this pool of jihadis who get seduced into believing there’s some virtue in crossing into Syria to fight or to join ISIL. And a young nine-year-old kid who goes with his father and his mother and holds up the severed head of someone. I mean, that’s just beyond imagination. And what this effort has to do is literally dry up the money, dry up the foreign fighters, prevent the foreign fighters from going home back to various places to do harm. It has to start major efforts to delegitimize ISIS’s claim to some religious foundation for what it’s doing and begin to put real Islam out there and draw lines throughout the region.
And I think this is a wake-up call with respect to that because every Arab leader there today was talking about this, about real Islam and how important the Friday sermons are and where they need to go. Those are critical components of this strategy. Getting logistics, airlift, putting humanitarian assistance in, flying it in, ammunition, equipment, training, advisers – all of these roles are the totality and you have to be able to describe this in a logistic way – in a holistic way.
Kerry's words are in keeping with the spirit of President Obama's Cairo speech from 2009 where he famously said, "I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear... America is not -- and never will be -- at war with Islam... Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism -- it is an important part of promoting peace."
Five years out from his Cairo speech and conflict bubbling up through the Middle East and the world, the reality on the ground may be far from what the president hoped or anticipated, but the rhetoric is unchanged: Islamic extremism is not real Islam. Given the rise of ISIL, the Boko Haram, and the continued tenacity of al Qaeda, President Obama may find this message to be an increasingly hard sell.
2:45 PM, Sep 15, 2014 • By THOMAS DONNELLY
The Obama administration is behaving like a prisoner under interrogation: eventually, if unintentionally, it ends up talking most about the subjects it least wishes to discuss.
10:31 AM, Sep 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
We have learned much about ISIS in the last few weeks, virtually all of it troubling. The CIA has upped its estimates of the number of ISIS fighters to something in the neighborhood of 30,000. And from Ken Dilanian of the AP we learn that through various methods, it can raise the money it needs to fund operations.
What difference does it make?11:42 AM, Sep 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
John Kerry argued that it doesn't really make a difference if we call U.S. action against ISIS a "war." He criticized the "tortured debate" this morning on CBS:
"Mr. Secretary, thank you so much," said CBS host Bob Schieffer. "Can I clear up one thing first. This week you went to some lengths to say you wouldn't call this a war, but yet at the Pentagon and at the State Department even they were saying we are at war with ISIS. Are we at war?"
2:32 PM, Sep 12, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The White House now definitively says that the "U.S. is at with with ISIL," a position the Obama administration has been hesitant to state in the last couple days:
9:04 AM, Sep 12, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Secretary of State John Kerry insists that we not call the thing by its proper name. The “thing” being U.S. military actions against ISIS (or ISIL, if you wish) and the name being “war.”
Holding the line against the Islamic State.Sep 22, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 02 • By JONATHAN SPYER
Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan
A war is being waged along a 900-mile front between two entities that today constitute de facto quasi-states stretching across the old border between Syria and Iraq. These are the Islamic State to the south and a contiguous area of Kurdish-controlled territory to the north. Recently, I traveled to the latter, in regions of northern Iraq and northeast Syria, like the town of Derik, where I spoke with a Kurdish soldier who had recently been in a firefight with IS forces in the neighboring village of Jeza’a.
3:11 PM, Sep 11, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
White House spokesman Josh Earnest couldn't define what victory against ISIS will look like. "I didn't bring my Webster's dictionary," he told a reporter.
"What does victory look like here?" asked a reporter. "I mean, you've talked about destroying ISIL. I honestly don't know what that means. What does it mean"
"I didn't bring my Webster's dictionary with me up here," Earnest said.
11:21 AM, Sep 11, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In deciding how to destroy ISIS, President Obama has rejected the "best military advice." The advice was recently given to the commander in chief from his military leaders.
8:33 AM, Sep 11, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Michael Morrell, a former acting director of the CIA under Barack Obama, says that the strategy his old boss is using to go after ISIS in Syria does not have a high chance of being successful:
8:04 AM, Sep 11, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
A largely overlooked posting on the White House's Twitter account the very day of the assault on the U.S.
12:02 AM, Sep 11, 2014 • By KATHERINE ZIMMERMAN
In an address Wednesday night to the nation, President Obama held up America’s strategy in Yemen as a model for the counterterrorism strategy he intends to pursue in Iraq and Syria. By doing so, he committed to a strategy of targeting terrorists from the air and supporting local security forces in their counterterrorism fight.
Hosted by Michael Graham.10:35 PM, Sep 10, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on President Obama's speech on his administration's strategy to take on ISIS.