[guest post by Dana]
President Obama continues to avoid saying the “I” word, even today when standing with British Prime Minister David Cameron who used harsh terms of condemnation for the terrorists: “Poisonous ideology” and “Radical, death cult of a narrative” and “very serious Islamist extremist terrorist threat.” However, the president refused to refer to the terrorists in such terms:
Despite the increasingly tough rhetoric from Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and others, Obama continued to describe the enemy as “violent extremism” and “violent terrorism” — even “nihilism.”
Compare and contrast the two leaders’ carefully chosen wording:
Obama: “We both recognize that intelligence and military force alone is not going to solve this problem, so we’re also going to keep working together on strategies to counter violent extremism that radicalizes recruits and mobilizes people, especially young people, to engage in terrorism.”
Cameron: “We know what we’re up against. And we know how we will win. We face a poisonous and fanatical ideology that wants to pervert one of the world’s major religions, Islam, and create conflict, terror and death. With our allies, we will confront it wherever it appears.”
Obama: This phenomenon of violent extremism, the ideology, the networks, the capacity to recruit young people, this has metastasized and it is widespread, and it has penetrated communities around the world.”
“I do not consider it an existential threat. As David said, this is one that we will solve. We are stronger. We are representing values that the vast majority of Muslims believe in — in tolerance and in working together to build, rather than to destroy.”
Cameron: “We will deploy additional intelligence and surveillance assets to help Iraqi forces on the ground, and we will ensure they are better trained and equipped to counter explosive devices. But most important of all, we must also fight this poisonous ideology starting at home.”
“We do face a very serious Islamist extremist terrorist threat in Europe, in America, across the world. And we have to be incredibly vigilant in terms of that threat.”
“It means countering this poisonous, fanatical death cult of a narrative that is perverting the religion of Islam.”
Further, Greta Van Susteren wonders if Cameron and Obama’s jointly-written op-ed in the Times of London had the “I” word removed as a favor to President Obama:
Now, in the op-ed, the president and prime minister write in part. “Whether we are facing lone fanatics or terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda, Islamic state or Boko Haram, we will not be cowed by extremist. We would defeat this barbaric killers and their distorted ideology.”
Now, if you read the entire joint op-ed, there is no mention of radical Islam. Why not?
In response, Nile Gardiner, Director for Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom suggests a reasonable possibility for the omission:
I suspect that is because the White House probably requested that because President Obama does not refer to these terror attacks that we have seen happening in Europe as Islamist related. Now, David Cameron is very different in this respect. He has on a number of occasions referred to the poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism. He is far more hard hitting in terms of the language he uses about identifying the nature of the Islamist threat that we face.
I think you are going to see a distinction coming across between the British prime minister and the U.S. President. But I do think that Barack Obama at the moment looks very, very weak with regard to the global fight against Islamic extremism. He doesn’t even refer to this as a war. I do think that David Cameron understands we are engaged in a global war against the Islamist, a war that we absolutely have to win. So there is a clear divide between the two leaders on this.
Clearly, not everyone appreciates the president walking on verbal eggshells, including angry Democratic Congresswoman and Army veteran Tulsi Gabbard :
“It’s frustrating how, as we look at the situation there, our administration refuses to recognize who our enemy is.”
“I’m upset that the President and the White House… [are] not actually saying, ‘This is a war that the Islamic extremists are posing against the United States and against the West and we recognize who our enemy is and come up with a strategy to defeat that enemy.’”
If you can’t recognize the enemy, how can you even fight the war?