James Foley

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant beheaded U.S. photojournalist James Foley yesterday, and the news shot out across social media at lightening speed — but Americans have been kept in the dark about what it will take to defeat the terrorist group. As Islamic State and its tens-of-thousands of fighters dig in to large swathes of Iraq and Syria, we are being led to believe that random airstrikes, occasional Special Forces operations, and some new weapons in the hands of the Iraqi government will do the trick. Meanwhile, Islamic State is learning how to fill potholes and get the trash out on Thursdays.

The Obama administration is not being upfront about the nature of the threat, and in time that dishonesty will bring the sorrow felt by the Foley family to many other Americans.

James Carafano, vice president for foreign and defense policy at the Heritage Foundation, spoke with The Washington Times on Tuesday. During the interview, he indirectly reminded everyone that the group President Obama infamously referred to as the “J.V. team” are establishing themselves as a serious adversary.

It’s “a very provocative way of showing that you are still a force to be reckoned with” and not just “a bunch of losers,” he said. “In this part of the world, honor is power. It’s not about doing the right thing. [Honor] is as important to them as martyrdom.

The U.S. is setting itself up for failure because many of its policymakers a.) don’t understand (or want to understand) the threat posed by Islamic State and its allies around the globe, b.) what they do know they don’t accurately convey to the American people, and c.) they deal with the threat by creating the illusion that something is being done (e.g., random drone strikes), when in reality they are most-likely exacerbating the problem.

Meanwhile, Islamic State is using its time in charge of cities across the Middle East to learn how to govern.

Foreign Policy Magazine reported Monday:

The Obama administration’s escalating air war against the Islamic State is running up against a dispiriting new reality: The militants are becoming as good at governing territory as they are at conquering it, making it considerably harder to dislodge them from the broad swaths of Syria and Iraq that they now control.

U.S. intelligence officials say the leaders of the Islamic State are adopting methods first pioneered by Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite militia, and are devoting considerable human and financial resources toward keeping essential services like electricity, water, and sewage functioning in their territory. In some areas, they even operate post offices. …

Islamic State, already the best-armed and best-funded terror group in the world, is quickly adapting to the challenges of ruling and governing. That, in turn, dramatically reduces the chances that the extremists will face homegrown opposition in what amounts to the world’s newest territory.

“ISIS is the most dangerous terrorist group in the world because they combine the fighting capabilities of al Qaeda with the administrative capabilities of Hezbollah,” said David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert who spent several years working as a top aide to Gen. David Petraeus during the height of the Iraq War. “It’s clear that they have a state-building agenda and an understanding of the importance of effective governance.”

Once again, it’s time to revisit David Remnick’s January interview  with President Obama in The New Yorker:

I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.

“Let’s just keep in mind, Falluja is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.”

Is the extermination of entire Christian populations in the Middle East worth wading into? We now know that it’s at least worth a few American air strikes along the side of a mountain. Is the beheading of American photojournalists worth wading into? Perhaps not a single person, but the mountain of heads is piling up mighty high in Syria and Iraq, and the guys wielding the instruments of death have openly stated their desire to bring terror to the Western world.

The Obama administration desperately wanted to believe that “extremist Islamic ideology” is something that is only a threat to “local” populations, when members of such groups state again and again that the goal is to build a worldwide Islamic caliphate. While it is much harder to expose Mr. Obama’s incompetence on domestic issues (e.g., The reason why Program X isn’t working is because it requires $10 billion more dollars on top of the $10 billion we’ve already spent, and the evil Republicans in the House aren’t working with me.), honest individuals can see that he is in way over his head on foreign policy. His fundamental misunderstanding of the threat posed by Islamic terrorists will have deadly repercussions for years to come.

If you get a moment, say a prayer for the Foley family. Then, say a prayer for the family of journalist Steven Joel Sotloff, who Islamic State is threatening to behead next.

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

12 comments

  1. Did they confirm the video with James Foley? I knew of the video but as of last night I did not know if it was proven to be accurate.

    1. Yes, it’s been confirmed. His mother released a statement. It read in part:

      “We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.”

    2. Thank you for the update, we lost power last night so I was not able to keep up…or was it a police blackout to stop me from knowing the truth:)

      That is sad, we should pray from his family and friends.

    3. The real JV Team is the Obama Administration. They haven’t a single clue about anything, whether it’s healthcare or in this case, foreign policy. I always thought that the late Tom Clancy did a good job at portraying the flawed Obama mentality on foreign policy in two of his recent books, “Dead or Alive” and “Locked On.” They’re more concerned with a nonsensical “kinder and gentler” approach to fighting terrorism.

      This beheading is beyond horrible, but of course, you’ll hear the usual suspects emerge from the woodwork and say, “Yeah, it’s tragic, but not all Muslims are terrorists.” Even though that’s not the point. The point, ISIS is a group of barbarians who have no qualms about brutally murdering people they deem “infidels,” but people turn a blind eye to their horrific actions. They are still clowns in this country who think Christians are worse than Islamists, for Christ’s sake. Except I’ve never heard of Christians who behead people for thinking differently.

  2. This is horrifying. I think the worst part is that the Obama administration knew that ISIS planned to murder Foley but didn’t move to act. Shameful.

    1. This Administration is incompetent as can be. They can’t rescue Foley or the soldier imprisoned down in Mexico, but they can rescue a potential Al Qaeda sympathizer like Bowe Berghdal? It’s pathetic and shameful, like you said.

    2. It will be interesting to see what the Army’s final investigation into Bergdahl’s disappearance will conclude. The case with Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi down in Mexico is another weird story. I find it hard to believe that the administration doesn’t have the leverage with Mexico to expedite the process… He served his country and now he’s been left to languish down in some Mexican prison for months.

    3. If Andrew Tahmooressi were one of “my people,” the Obama Administration might be more interested in his plight. And if Shaneen Allen were a Hamas terrorist, or a mugger who killed a cop while resisting arrest, then every journalist in the MSM, every limousine liberal in Hollywood, and every coffee shop intellectual in New York would be rallying to support her.

  3. This is getting a fair bit of coverage in Australia too. It is shocking to see these barbarians getting away with cold blooded murder.

    The US Secretary of State John Kerry was in the country a couple of weeks ago ahead of the annual AUSMIN talks. The Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations are expected to focus on the Iraq situation which is great, but talk without action is simply not good enough.

    I don’t know if you guys saw that disturbing photo of a 7 year old Australian boy, whose deranged father fighting for the IS proudly displayed online, showing his son holding the decapitated head of an Iraqi soldier.

    What sort of mentality do these terrorists have exposing their children to such barbaric violence? What kind of irreparable psychological damage has already been done to that child?

    Our Prime Minister has said that passports of other Australians wanting to go to Iraq to support IS will be cancelled. I think they should let them go and never be allowed to re enter Australia again or upon application to go, have them arrested and thrown into jail. Those that are there now should not be allowed back into the country either.

    I really don’t get the mindset of these homegrown terrorists. If they are so deluded and hell bent on fighting for jihad ideologies, they shouldn’t be living in western democratic societies. They don’t deserve that privilege.

    The murderer that beheaded James Foley has a British accent. I truly hope he is brought to justice one way or another. The IS know full well that their brutal premeditated actions are going to shock the world to possibly galvanize US forces into warfare. It’s what they want so they can garner even more support in the region.

    It’s the paradox of war that you have to kill people in order to stop people from killing. Fighting back might breed more resentment amongst populations in those regions and also inspire more homegrown idiots to come out of the woodwork. Doing nothing allows them to continue their reign of terror.

    1. In Minnesota, we have a similar problem with homegrown terrorists. A lot of Somalis and members of other Arab groups in the Cities have gone overseas to fight for Islamist groups such as Al Shabab, Al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria. The local communities have spoken out against it, but they’ve done little to address it and a lot of local liberals are indifferent to it, of course.

    2. If American Muslims want to go overseas and join ISIS or Al Qaeda, I say let them go. But they should forfeit any claim to US citizenship, and should be permanently denied re-entry into this country. And, when they show up on the battlefield, treat them as enemy combatants. Further, the terrorist organizations never signed the Geneva Convention or the Hague Accords, so any rules of “civilized warfare” are irrelevant. That means our troops should be allowed to summarily execute terrorists when taking prisoners would be impractical.

      The Obama administration apparently intends to treat the Foley murder as a criminal matter, even though our law enforcement agencies have no jurisdiction where the killing took place. Even if the FBI or US Marshals caught the killer, it would be impossible to indict him, let alone extradite and prosecute him. It makes about as much sense as if FDR had tried to arrest and prosecute the Japanese Navy pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor.

    3. You’ve noticed the language as well… The U.S. is never on a war footing; it’s almost always along the lines of “Who killed James Foley and let us find and prosecute that man.” But then you have someone like John Kerry saying weird things like Islamic State will be “crushed” while simultaneously ruling out any real use of ground troops. Meanwhile, Islamic State continues to gobble up territory and chop off heads.

      The Obama administration has absolutely no clue how to handle this threat. There is no strategy.

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