Sympathy for the Enemy

Many have discussed the absurd evasion by Obama in his speech on Wednesday evening in stating, “ISIL is not Islamic.” ISIL is acting consistently with the Koran, which is to Muhammad’s Islam what Mein Kampf was to Hitler’s Nazism. But Obama said at least four other very bad things in the introduction of his speech.

1. This is how Obama introduced ISIL: “At this moment the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the Islamic State.” That is, Obama opened with the implication that Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa have legitimate grievances against some other group. Against whom? Obama does not say, but the implication is that the legitimate grievances are against non-Muslims—Americans, Israelis, Jews, and others in the civilized West. That is, Obama opened his speech with an implicit assumption that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is we civilized, affluent Westerners.

2. Obama spoke about the most selfless, death-wishing collection of nihilists—consistent Muslims—in the history of the world and cast them as self-interested, acting “for their own gain.”

3. Obama’s next words were, “Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents … .” That is, any philosophy—simply by including a mystical belief in a supernatural deity—gets a moral pass on any other evil it stands for.

4. Obama’s next sentence was, “And ISIL is certainly not a state.” One sentence later, Obama said, “It is recognized by no government nor by the people it subjugates.” That is, (Islamic) dictatorships such as Iran—our worst enemy in the Middle East—and Saudi Arabia have nothing to worry about from America, because they are states. And murderous groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas have nothing to worry about either, because they are recognized by governments.

In his brief introduction, Obama essentially said this: The fundamental problem in the Middle East is we Westerners; life-renouncing Muslims are the good guys; Islamic states that are resolved to destroying us are safe from us; and we are just going after the few rogues who, like American capitalists, pursue “their own gain.”

That was the theory part of Obama’s speech. The practice part was equally bad, of course. Perhaps I will elaborate next week; but in the meantime, here is the theory and practice I recommended in 2001, and still recommend.