For weeks, Republicans have lambasted President Obama for what they claim is a major foreign policy failure: His refusal to use the term “Islamic” to describe the terrorists of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“The president and his administration dogmatically refuse to utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Fox News. “You cannot defeat an enemy if you refuse to acknowledge what it is.”
So I hope Cruz and his colleagues noticed what Obama actually said at last week’s White House meeting on — OK, here comes the bland official term — “violent extremism.”
“Al Qaeda and ISIL [Islamic State] and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam,” Obama said. “[They] do draw, selectively, from the Islamic texts. They do depend upon the misperception around the world that they speak in some fashion for people of the Muslim faith.”
His main point: “We are not at war with Islam.”
The president uttered the words “Islam,” “Islamic” or “Muslim” 49 times in 34 minutes, and the words “terrorism” or “terrorist” 30 times. Anyone who thinks he’s ignoring the Islamic part of the problem isn’t paying attention — or else just trying to score political points. (Cruz, who may seek the Republican presidential nomination, also called the president “an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism.” He’s not big on nuance.)