Addressing James Foley’s murder, Obama speaks loudly and leaves the stick at home

posted at 2:41 pm on August 20, 2014 by Noah Rothman

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama addressed the nation regarding the brutal slaying of an American journalist by Islamic State militants. After conducting that gruesome deed, James Wright Foley’s assassin warned the president that his organization planned to kill yet another American unless the West surrenders Iraq and Syria to the Islamic State’s inhuman designs.

Many of the words Obama deployed in his rhetorical front in the war against ISIS were quite nice and even refreshingly blunt. “No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day,” Obama said after a brief list of the atrocities committed by ISIS militants. “ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt.”

“People like this ultimately fail,” the president added. “They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy.”

History is, indeed, replete with examples of barbaric forces bent on delivering the world back into darkness. Some have failed. Some did not. Those that did fail did so because they were resisted by the armies of civilization. None of history’s dark crusades ever failed in a vacuum.

Obama expressed how “heartbroken” he was at the murder of an American, and he pledged to “extract this cancer so that it does not spread.” But this metastatic tumor has already been allowed to spread. And, even in a fashion that maintained a sufficient level of operational secrecy, the president failed to inform the American people how he planned to excise it.

Just prior to Obama’s address, CNN reporter Barbara Starr reported that American officials now believe that the video of Foley’s assassination was taken inside Syria, where the United States has no military presence and cannot conduct operations in the air without incurring the serious risk of encountering resistance from Syria’s sophisticated, Russian-made anti-air batteries. Obama failed to make note of this.

Nor did the president, perhaps understandably, mention the fact that another American journalist – Steven Sotloff – will be killed next if the president does not give up the ongoing air campaign against ISIS in Iraq. It makes sense that the president did not want to endanger Sotloff’s life further by antagonizing ISIS. Nor does the President of the United States gain anything from appearing to respond directly to ultimatums issued by a loose band of militants in the Middle East. But these are subjects that can be addressed in a cautious manner that also treats the American people like adults.

Where was the status update on the ongoing airstrikes against ISIS positions in the north of Iraq which, judging only from press accounts, appear to be relatively effective? Why did the president fail to address rumors that his administration was aware of the threats to Foley’s life prior to his execution, or that unconfirmed reports have suggested that his killer may have been a former Guantanamo detainee?

For that matter, why did the president not address the fact that a significant number of westerners are apparently fighting alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and Foley’s executioner may have been one of these western jihadists? It is, again, perfectly understandable for the president to not want to get ahead of the facts of this still developing event, but Obama is set to chair as United Nations Security Council meeting in September which is focused entirely on that very threat. He has yet to publicly address this forthcoming UNSC meeting, and this incident would have been a perfect time to broach that subject.

Instead, he leaves it up to his surrogates and the media to inform the public about how this war is being prosecuted. The latest development, breaking just minutes after Obama spoke, is an apparent proposal administration officials are considering to send 300 additional troops to Iraq. Even members of Obama’s own party are now strongly suggesting that the president come to Congress with a request to legally authorize this application of force in Iraq. When does the president plan to speak honestly about the scope of American involvement in the Middle East?

So many members of the media remarked that Obama appeared “shaken” or “pissed” over the execution of an American, which is a commendable and appropriate emotion to experience under these circumstances. The equally appropriate response from those concerned about national security, America’s position in the world, or even the quaint notion of avenging great wrongs would be, “So what?”

The president’s emotional state at any given moment is utterly irrelevant, unless that provides a window into his decision making process while American service personnel are in harm’s way. To many in the press, the study of Obama’s fluctuating emotions is its own virtue. As though this was some reality show. Save it for the confession booth.

What is the plan, Mr. President? Or do we have to wait to read about it in the papers tomorrow?


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I was hoping for something along the lines of “bomb ISIS and everything they have into rubble and then bomb some more just to make the rubble bounce grins.”

JohnnyL on August 20, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Obama Out: “The Future Must Not Belong to Those Who Slander the Prophet of Islam”

Obama In: “They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy.”

This guy doesn’t know his ISIS from a hole in the ground

faraway on August 20, 2014 at 2:52 PM

“…the future is won by those who build and not destroy.” The problem is that by “won by those who build”, Barky’s choice to be winners are the isis sunni muslims and their building of a caliphate.

GGMac on August 20, 2014 at 4:51 PM

This pretty much proved to me what I already thought, that obama has no interest in eliminating his sunni butt-buddies from the map, he’ll put on a show ‘holding them back a little’, but he’s not going to endanger his caliphate. He’s been waiting forever for the caliphate, no way he’s going to squash it in it’s infancy as if it were a human white Christian child or something.

Diluculo on August 20, 2014 at 4:59 PM

“People like this ultimately fail,” the president added. “They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy.”

… said the Destroyer in Chief.

Midas on August 20, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Ah yes…..the Dreamer in Chief reveals his plan.

Do nothing. Someone else will solve this in the future.

Hitler and the Nazi’s failed. It only took 24 million deaths to get there.

And for the record, Neville Chamberlin wasn’t invited to the after-party.

BobMbx on August 20, 2014 at 5:12 PM

I amy be way off base here, but I have this vague recollection that Holder’s prior law firm did pro bono work for some of the Gitmo detainees.

Anyone know if this was so? Did they get anyone released? Is there any possibility the executioner was one of the people they got released?

That would be ironic.

talkingpoints on August 20, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Obamas response: shttoppp iiittt. Don’t be so mean. Seriously. Stop it you guys.

jhffmn on August 20, 2014 at 5:19 PM

*(CNN)* – In January President Obama told The New Yorker magazine that ISIS, the militant group which has taken control of parts of western and northern Iraq, was like a junior varsity basketball team.

“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.

Schadenfreude on August 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Putting on the best terrorist defense is a Covington & Burling specialty. Among the firm’s other celebrity terrorist clients: 17 Yemenis held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The law firm employed dozens of radical attorneys such as David Remes and Marc Falkoff to provide the enemy combatants with more than 3,000 hours of pro bono representation. Covington & Burling co-authored one of three petitioners’ briefs filed in the Boumediene v. Bush detainee case, and secured victories for several other Gitmo enemy combatants in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Falkoff went on to publish a book of poetry, Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak, which he dedicated to the suspected terrorists: “For my friends inside the wire, Mahmoad, Majid, Yasein, Saeed, Abdulsalam, Mohammed, Adnan, Jamal, Othman, Adil, Mohamed, Abdulmalik, Areef, Adeq, Farouk, Salman, and Makhtar. Inshallah, we will next meet over coffee in your homes in Yemen.”

How sweet. One of the class of Yemeni Gitmo detainees that Falkoff described as “gentle, thoughtful young men” was released in 2005—only to blow himself up (gently and thoughtfully, of course) in a truck bombing in Mosul, Iraq, in 2008, killing 13 soldiers from the 2nd Iraqi Army division and seriously wounding 42 others.

From a 2009 column from Michelle Malkin. Covington and Burling was the firm Holder was in when he was in private practice.
I don’t know if any of the others were set free or if any of them had British accents.

It is a potentially interesting connection, though.

talkingpoints on August 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Word for the day week month year:

feck•less (ˈfɛk lɪs)

adj.
1. ineffective; incompetent; futile.

2. having no sense of responsibility; indifferent; lazy.

[1590–1600; orig. Scots, form of effect]

Abelard on August 20, 2014 at 5:27 PM

“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.

Schadenfreude on August 20, 2014 at 5:25 PM

The analogy works better if you substitute Obama. Winning the presidential election didn’t make him qualified to be President.

talkingpoints on August 20, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Hey, I wonder if any of the people holding ISIS signs in Ferguson are Holder’s old buds. Maybe he could use his time there getting back together with his peeps.

talkingpoints on August 20, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Ah yes…..the Dreamer in Chief reveals his plan.
Do nothing. Someone else will solve this in the future.
Hitler and the Nazi’s failed. It only took 24 million deaths to get there.
And for the record, Neville Chamberlin wasn’t invited to the after-party.

BobMbx on August 20, 2014 at 5:12 PM

24 million deaths and a lot of luck. There was nothing about the Allied victory that was inevitable, and our Clown Prince of a President just demonstrated -again- his ahistorical arrogance in the ‘bad people don’t win’ pablum he’s peddling.

paladinofthelosthour on August 20, 2014 at 5:42 PM

Actually the side that wins the war is the side that does a better job of destroying. That is what military’s are meant for. That’s how we beat Japan and the Nazis.
You don’t defeat an enemy by out building them, unless you mean outbuilding things to destroy them…

redshirt on August 20, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Barack speaking as a Muslim apologist on how Islam is truly the religion of peace. This, from one source of destruction to the other.

Hening on August 20, 2014 at 6:08 PM

I think what you meant to say was……

What is the plan, Mr. President? Or do we have to wait for YOU to read about it in the papers tomorrow?

Zooid on August 20, 2014 at 6:49 PM

And a just God will judge you mr president. You have lied, used His name in vain and supported the massacre of His creation in the womb. You sir have turned your back on Israel, his people. You have used power wrongly and become an idol worshipper (yourself) and a glutton for power and riches. You sir, have no standing, unless you repent and turn away from your sins. All you have is talk.

crosshugger on August 20, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Powerful and truthful words, Crosshugger.

Thank you for writing what is also on my mind.

Maranatha!

GrannyDee on August 20, 2014 at 6:49 PM

Well more BS for the BSing president….

sorrowen on August 20, 2014 at 6:50 PM

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/american-journalist-executed-by-islamic-state/

American journalist executed by Islamic State
Iraq crisis

7m
Pentagon press secretary: ‘We put the best of the United States military in harms way to try and bring our citizens home’ – @marieharf
End of alert
============

Iraq crisis
9m
Pentagon press secretary: Rescue operations to free hostages in Syria involved both air and ground components – @marieharf
End of alert
============

Iraq crisis
16m
Officials: Special forces launched mission in Syria to rescue US hostages this summer but didn’t find any – @AP
End of alert

canopfor on August 20, 2014 at 6:53 PM

https://twitter.com/marieharf

Marie Harf @marieharf · 29s

Lisa Monaco: USG had what we believed was sufficient intelligence; when the opportunity presented itself, the President authorized operation

Replied to 0 times

Marie Harf @marieharf · 16m

.@PentagonPresSec: We put the best of the United States military in harms way to try and bring our citizens home. (4/4)

Replied to 0 times

Marie Harf @marieharf · 16m

.@PentagonPresSec: Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location. (3/4)

Replied to 0 times

Marie Harf @marieharf · 16m

.@PentagonPresSec: This operation involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL. (2/4)

Replied to 0 times

Marie Harf @marieharf · 16m

.@PentagonPresSec: The United States attempted a rescue operation recently to free a number of American hostages held in Syria by ISIL (1/4)

Replied to 0 times

Retweeted by Marie Harf
The White House Blog @blog44 · 3h

President Obama: James Foley’s Life Stands in Stark Contrast to His Killers http://ow.ly/2M6PD5

Replied to 0 times

Marie Harf @marieharf · 6h

President Obama: We will be vigiliant, and we will be relentless.

Replied to 0 times

Marie Harf @marieharf · 6h

The President: The world is shaped by people like Jim Foley & overwhelmingly majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.

Replied to 0 times

Marie Harf @marieharf · 6h

President Obama: No just God would stand for what ISIL did yesteday and what they do every single day.

canopfor on August 20, 2014 at 6:55 PM

The appropriate response:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CP9dg38cAI

Count to 10 on August 20, 2014 at 6:57 PM

If you turn off the sound on the video and just watch Obama talk, one gets the impression he is apologizing for something.

albill on August 20, 2014 at 7:01 PM

Reap what you sow

When will it be the stickless one’s turn?

This is yet another story with no one to cheer for.

LegendHasIt on August 20, 2014 at 7:22 PM

I cannot believe that Obama waxed wroth over the killing of an American because he honors every American life and is duty-bound to see to it that by-god these malefactors will pay for messin’ with the USofA.

He’s just pissed that he has to take time out of his busy schedule to make some kind of freakin’ address to the American People while he’s on vacation…

jbspry on August 20, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Gaza, PS
13m
Photo: Gaza activists hang large pro-Palestinian flag from Manhattan Bridge in New York City – @jeffrae

https://twitter.com/jeffrae/status/502230124801323008/photo/1

canopfor on August 20, 2014 at 7:46 PM

canopfor on August 20, 2014 at 7:49 PM

Obama speaks loudly,
and carries a putter.

Hat tip – my wife

ShadrachSmith on August 20, 2014 at 9:03 PM

I get the feeling that this horrible job Obama finds himself in, is getting in the way of his social schedule.

Of course golf with Alonzo Mourning takes precedent over getting ISIS out of Iraq.

I mean we all must prioritize.

petunia on August 20, 2014 at 10:19 PM

I’ve yet to watch more than 90 seconds of Him speaking, usually because my hands are dirty or wet from cooking when He accidentally comes on.

I’ve learned to put plastic wrap over the TV remote so I can change channels or mute it even with wet/dirty hands.

That is pretty sad, but my age and IQ exceed 55 so of course I did not vote for Him.

Tard on August 21, 2014 at 1:00 AM

After listening to Obama’s address on this, he sounded absolutely bored with it, that it was something he had to do even though he didn’t want to. There was no passion.

Worst president ever.

sadatoni on August 21, 2014 at 7:45 AM

The man is nothing but empty rhetoric transmitted via a monotone blah, blah, blah, blah . . . blah. Enough of this sea of nothingness we float around in while this dolt babbles.

rplat on August 21, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Teddy Roosevelt’s motto was “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
Obama carries a little stick (please no comments here about his manhood) and speaks loudly.

Herb on August 21, 2014 at 11:13 AM

The President did not leave his stick at home it was where it should be in his golf bag, and his caddy told the Underground Press he was was going to use his 65 degree wedge to convince the crowd not to get excited he had everything under control.

MSGTAS on August 22, 2014 at 9:10 AM

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