Comment: Statement by POTUS on ISIL

On the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, President Obama made a statement to unveil his administration's strategy to tackle IS/ISIL.
This is a brief comment on some of the most significant passages in POTUS' statement:

- "But this is not our fight alone.  American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region."

This is probably the most important piece of the whole statement: president Obama reiterated that it's time for Arab nations to participate more in the designs of Muslim nations in the Middle East region. Gulf countries are one of the West's top weapon customers, and for long we have been wondering about the true purpose behind such purchases (beyond the usual explanation "to guard royal families"); therefore, while POTUS is telling Arab partners that the time has come for them to make use of their "toys" to fix the problems they vastly helped to create, he is also pushing them towards military-policy transparency. America isn't willing to fall in the same entrapments and then be blamed for all the Muslim woes in the region, any longer.

- "I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. [That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.]"

The structure of this passage is very interesting: it is divided by a period. In the first element, POTUS vows to hunt down terrorists who threaten the US "wherever they are" period - signifying that America will conduct a deep counter-terrorism (CT) operation both domestically and internationally. In the second element, POTUS curiously mentions Syria first and then Iraq (where CT missions are being carried out as we speak); this apparent distraction confirms the previous analysis - the US will go beyond the stated borders and we are about to witness a new age of CT approaches (although not necessarily new tactics).

- "Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I call on Congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters. (..) we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all."

Who is exactly that Syrian opposition that would be a recipient of military equipment? Wasn't it under that same premise that America ended up training rebel elements, in Jordan, that now are fighting in ISIL's ranks? Politically speaking, president Obama is indicating to whoever succeeds Bashar Al-Assad that America has supported a regime change.

But it would be interesting if the officials, working closely with the president, would take into account the following information (given by sources in Syria): "We believe that these so-called moderate rebels that people want our administration to support, one of them sold [Steven Sotloff] probably for something between $25,000 and $50,000 to Isis, and that was the reason he was captured”.

At the same time, we have to commend the president for not using that nefarious term "moderate" since President Erdogan himself stated "These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it."

- "Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists. It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny."

Taking a swipe at European indecisiveness. The US, under President Obama, has given the opportunity to other countries to lead, to take fate into their own hands with American assistance. The European Union did not take that opportunity, despite having spent years accusing America of meddling in every single world affair.

Europe is now the first target of terrorist attacks - the US is giving them intel on their own jihadist nationals and on sleeping cells; Europe allowed the situation in Ukraine to unravel - the US was the one to step forward and lead a series of diplomatic coercive measures against Russia.
The European Union pulled America back to a position of World Leader. How ironic is that?

- "America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden.  But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead.  From Europe to Asia, from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East, we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity."

In these past 4 years and a half, the US has sat back to see who would step forward and lead a free world. No one did. Ladies & gentlemen, the United States of America are back in action. President Obama has finally realised that he cannot lead from behind.

(NB: it was interesting to see how POTUS made sure to make a distinction between Iraqi forces and Kurdish ones: possibly an indication that we may have a 194th state in the UN soon)


  1. You forgot to include the part where Obama said ISIL is not Islamic: what the hell is he talking about? Of course it is Islamic, what they do is supported by the Quran hence ISlamic! Don't you think that omitting this contradicts the ethos of your usual posts?

  2. This is important to know, what do Arabs want their weapons for exactly? They either give them to terrorists or they're preparing a major assault against Israel and I'm happy Obama put them under the light so that everybody asks the same important question. different analysis, I like it.

  3. The two previous comments are spot on, both of them! I don't agree though that omitting the Islamic part is a contradiction, I know Max for a while now and I know that she prefers to either write specifically about religion or keep it out of politics all together. That's her ethos, Anonymous, but yeah ISIL/ISIS/IS is Islamic of course.
    Carla asked a brave question and we must discuss it: are Arab nations planning to attack Israel and is that the reason why they are piling up weapons? The Saudis recently said something suspicious, something like if we have to normalize relations with Israel we will but so far nothing, what's up with that?
    Anyhow, I think the EU has been humiliated by the US and you said it well, girl, they criticized Americans for being the world's cowboys and now they proved why they remain a power and cowboys, cause no one will do that job!

  4. My favorite part was the energy independence. I think once we stay out of the Arab's sphere of influence we'll have more margin to act when necessary and support our only true ally in the middle east. We can't count on Europe so the US will have to fill that void. I hope you are right, Max, I hope Obama realized finally he must lead the world.

  5. Why does he not include Pakistan to who the USA has supplied arms and which is now an atomic power? Why is Pakistan or for that matter other Islamin countries quiet when even the Saudis have condemned the ISIS? Balderdash is what I say. Sheer hypocrisy. There are fifth columnists representing ISIS and Al Quida in every country in the world, particularly in Europe and the USA. It is a matter of time before they will start making their presence felt.

    1. He didn't want to give that much importance to Pakistan, he didn't even invite her to join the coalition so he was only talking to coalition people involved. The hypocrisy is saying that ISIS is not Islamic, that's hypocritical at best!

  6. Obama is ready to take action? I'll believe it when I see it. Afterall, he might have an important golf game. Meow.

    1. Why are you people so obsessed with his golf games? Why weren't you when Bush and Clinton did the same? Racist conservatives are so hypocritical!!!

  7. Pres. Obama started badly: what does he mean ISIL is not Islamic and that no religions condones the killing of innocent people? First, the Islamic State is Islamic and second the Quran supports the death of non-Muslims if they don't submit to Islam. Ok, in many translations it uses the word "fight" and not "kill" but it's the same. So PC at play here again!
    How about Cameron saying ISIL people are "not Moslems but Monsters"? Hahahaha buying votes while keeping us all in danger that's what he's doing!
    I agree though that America is ready to come back to being the world's cop again: no one would do it when it stepped down from that position! So no one can bitch now (pardon my French).

  8. I believe in the theory that evil is not born in a day and too much of the good gradually leads to the evil, when the beneficiaries of the good lose control on it and thus gets born the evil shape. Its better if we can control the good at the opportune moment and nip the bud at its root so that it doesn't lead to the evil because todays friend may be tomorrow's foe and so the friends needs to kept in check at every moment so that it doesn't become a foe and even if its does the foe doesn't have enough ammunition to strike hard.

    US govts somewhere I believe is failing in that front time and again. Even though it has the resources to keep check on the so-called friends which it creates time and again to check the greater evil at that moment but the inability or the laxity to disarm the fair-weather friends at the right moment is leading to the greater misfortunes for the society.

  9. Good to see the US back in action! And Obama's move to push the Arabs to act was freaking great, but I am thinking of Carla's idea...

  10. I am a bit more cynical. Public political statements are meant to sway or influence others for, sometimes, hidden ends. They are frequently full of misinformation or expedient promises. Just because a public statement is made does not mean that it will later be honoured in either full or part. Politics serves the moment; the future is an entirely separate circumstance where decisions are revised. Analysing into fine detail political statements is useful, but if such statements are misinformation to begin with, misinformation analysed is just a sorting of misinformation and conclusions from it are only a hit upon truth depending on subsequent events. Self-interest rules politics and what I, the politician, say today I will re-interpret differently for you tomorrow. There is little of a flag of honour in diplomacy; there are only masking shields and stabbing swords from behind cover.

    1. Disappointed in politics, Stephen? You practically disavowed any product derived from open sources. Still, you make a very solid poin, specially when we look at analyses done by certain "Think Thanks".

    2. Hi Cristina
      It is not that all Open Sources are tainted, but one needs to be acutely aware that any major message fed into the Open System could well be fully manufactured for effect and even to mislead. Official spokespersons do not always even write their own material but have it composed by a team and polished by an expert. Politics is after all self-serving where the needs of the organization or group or nation or leader (as seen through the eyes of the decision-makers) are the main priority. Often the message is just an affirmation of all the discourse and agreements that have already occurred under the table. The nearer you get to a private conversation the nearer you may be to the truth. Information gleaned from detailed dialogues private and preceding their open announcements in vaguer and edited terms, may provide better insights into actual motivations, logistics and future designs. Refined published documents are not the same as their more open preceding drafts.

      Closeted conversations often disclose much that it is not intended to be given away, as the speaker is focused on imparting and focused on the single or few who are in private audience. It is only when the gist of the messages are displayed on Open Source that the original speaker clearly sees the result in full and then measures themselves and looks to corrections that meet their persuasive designs rather than their truths. While you are making a video, as it were, you are not so conscious of the details that you may unintentionally impart; but when in public media repeats you can see your performance: you then can realize whether or not you met your cloaking intensions and your display intentions. Politicians are in effect, actors on a stage. In one-on-one conversations that are close, and being so allowed, defensive threat barriers are not up, being intimate as amid the curtains backstage, in that situation you get all the fine language, body language etc. Nuances that are normally absent from an internet open text or public platform, a public platform, like a meeting platform where you can be humiliated, is a threat environment where the actors are onstage and are not mentally relaxed. Single meetings are like meeting colleagues where one-to-one is not a high body threat; whereas meetings with a large audience are like a solitary ego meeting a pack of wolves, the politician throws them the bones of discord and satisfaction, enabling the politician to safely leave as a winner.

    3. Hi Stephen, thank you for replying my comment.

      'Official spokespersons do not always even write their own material but have it composed by a team and polished by an expert.'

      And sanctioned by a secret services officer too.

      I do not disagree entirely with what you said: of course politics is about perceptions and role playing, especially in public. However, it is always possible to read signs in texts, in videos, in images etc and that is the role of an analyst, correct?


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