Speaking at the Edgartown School on Martha’s Vineyard, President Obama mourned the “brutal murder” of journalist Jim Foley and strongly condemned the terrorist group responsible, the ISIL, saying, “No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day.” While Obama said that the U.S. will be vigilant and relentless, the White House confirmed that this will not mean combat troops on the ground.
President Obama said (per a White House transcript) the entire world is “appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL.” He continued, “Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away. He was taken hostage nearly two years ago in Syria, and he was courageously reporting at the time on the conflict there.”
Obama called ISIL cowards and listed some of their crimes against humanity, “Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers. Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages — killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children, and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims — both Sunni and Shia — by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people.”
The President strongly denounced the idea that the ISIL spoke for a religion, “So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day.”
Obama said people like this ultimately fail. “They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley, and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.”
The President said we will do what we must to protect our people, “The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done. And we act against ISIL, standing alongside others.”
Striking a bit of fear into the war weary, the President continued, “The people of Iraq, who with our support are taking the fight to ISIL, must continue coming together to expel these terrorists from their communities. The people of Syria, whose story Jim Foley told, do not deserve to live under the shadow of a tyrant or terrorists. They have our support in their pursuit of a future rooted in dignity.”
But Obama called for a common effort to combat the “cancer” of the ISIL, “From governments and peoples across the Middle East there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer, so that it does not spread. There has to be a clear rejection of these kind of nihilistic ideologies. One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.”
Before calling for prayers for those who loved Jim, the President urged people around the world to replace hateful terrorism like we saw yesterday with a sense of hope and civility.
Oliver Knox, Chief Washington Correspondent for Yahoo! News, reported that he asked if this meant we might have combat troops on the ground, but the White House reiterated that their pledge against combat troops stands:
Asked and answered. White House tells me Obama's "no ground troops in a combat role" pledge stands.
— Olivier Knox (@OKnox) August 20, 2014
The Obama doctrine is seen clearly in the President’s response to brutal examples of terrorism. The President called on the international community to work together, as this is something everyone can agree upon, to fight this kind of terrorism. He vowed to be vigilant and relentless, and we know he can be (see Osama). So far, President Obama doesn’t seem to believe that combat boots on the ground will solve “terrorism”. But then, it’s hard to wage a successful war on an idea.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.