Tag Archives: ISIL

ISIS or ISIL … pick which one you want to hate

Defense Secretary Ash Carter invoked a term that I find puzzling.

It’s not in a negative way, just a puzzling way.

Appearing this morning on “Meet the Press,” Carter was responding to a question from moderator Chuck Todd, who used the term “ISIS.” Carter answered him using the term “ISIL.”

ISIS, ISIL. Tomato, tom-ah-to.

President Obama for some time has been calling the terrorist monsters ISIL, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The more, um, colloquial term has been ISIS, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The Levant describes a geographical region that covers roughly the nations bordering the eastern Mediterranean Sea. They comprise the site of the ongoing struggle against Islamic terrorists.

I suppose that, given the reach of the Islamic State, that “ISIL” seems a bit more appropriate, as it has done its murderous deeds throughout the eastern Med — and beyond.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been using the term “Daesh” when discussing ISIS/ISIL. Daesh is seen in the Islamic world as an epithet, a slur against the terrorists who comprise this monstrous group.

We all know, of course, how the Islamic State has elevated its profile from something President Obama once called the “JV team” of international terrorists. They’re the first-stringers these days, the varsity, Public Enemy No. 1 worldwide.

It really matters not one damn bit whether we call them “ISIS, ISIL” or “Daesh.” I’d prefer to call them all “dead.” We have killed many thousands of them since 9/11, but there no doubt remain many more to hunt down and, in the parlance so often used, “remove from the battlefield.”

I continue to have faith we’ll be able to do that — one day. I hope to be alive to welcome that event.

As if it could get any crazier in the Middle East


So … you might be asking: How complicated can it get in the Middle East?

Here’s a thought: Al-Qaeda could become something of an “ally” of ours if the terror organization decides to train its guns on another terror organization.

You remember those guys, right? They flew the airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and launched the current Global War on Terror. We hunted down Osama bin Laden and killed his sorry backside in Pakistan. We’ve been fighting al-Qaeda ever since.

Now we have the Islamic State to contend with. We’ve been taking those monstrous terrorists as well.

Now comes word that al-Qaeda might decide to go after the Islamic State in Syria.

Which of these terror cabals poses the greatest threat to the United States and our allies? Do we take sides?


Here’s a thought. Maybe we ought to just let al-Qaeda do what reports indicate it intends to do. The Shiite terror group might have determined that ISIL — the Sunni monsters — pose a grave threat to them.

The report attached to this blog post suggests al-Qaeda might seek to “compete” with ISIL for supremacy in the dark world of Middle East terrorists. What about, oh, Hezbollah and Hamas? Why not “compete” against them as well?

Of course we’re not going to take sides. Nor should we.

My own hope is that “compete” actually means to “fight,” which means one terror group is going to kill members of the other terror group.

If that’s what transpires, then let ’em fight.


Listen to this man’s sensible argument on fighting terror

kurdish fighters

David Petraeus is a retired U.S. Army general — the four-star variety. He served in combat and commanded troops in the fight against international terrorists.

He served for a time as the nation’s spook in chief, aka the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

He’s written a compelling essay for the Washington Post in which he argues forcefully against those — that would include you, Donald J. Trump — who propose to ban visitors to this country based solely on their religion.

Here’s the crux of what Gen. Petraeus is trying to convey:

“I have grown increasingly concerned about inflammatory political discourse that has become far too common both at home and abroad against Muslims and Islam, including proposals from various quarters for blanket discrimination against people on the basis of their religion.

“Some justify these measures as necessary to keep us safe — dismissing any criticism as ‘political correctness.’ Others play down such divisive rhetoric as the excesses of political campaigns here and in Europe, which will fade away after the elections are over…

“As policy, these concepts are totally counterproductive: Rather than making our country safer, they will compound the already grave terrorist danger to our citizens. As ideas, they are toxic and, indeed, non-biodegradable — a kind of poison that, once released into our body politic, is not easily expunged.

“Setting aside moral considerations, those who flirt with hate speech against Muslims should realize they are playing directly into the hands of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. The terrorists’ explicit hope has been to try to provoke a clash of civilizations — telling Muslims that the United States is at war with them and their religion. When Western politicians propose blanket discrimination against Islam, they bolster the terrorists’ propaganda.”

Take a look at the complete essay:


How about returning sanity — and intelligence — to this issue of protecting ourselves against those who seek to do us harm?



Syria fight to get some U.S. ground help


I have great respect and admiration for U.S. Sen. John McCain.

The Arizona Republican, though, needs to stop insisting that it’s time to put more American “boots on the ground” in places where they don’t belong.

President Obama has ordered 250 U.S. Special Forces to Syria to “assist and advise” frontline troops who are battling the Islamic State.


McCain’s reaction was quite predictable. He called the deployment a “welcome” development but then said it is “insufficient” and is doomed to fail.

I happen to disagree with the failure prediction.

Having said that, I am troubled by the way the president has described the troops’ assignment. He said they aren’t going to be “combat” troops. I am forced to say, merely, “Huh?”

The troops will comprise mostly Army Special Forces … Green Berets and Rangers. These folks are trained to the hilt to, um, fight.

I strongly suspect that if, in the process of advising and assisting the Syrians, that these special operations troops find themselves engaging ISIL terrorists that they’ll know what to do.

The soldiers who are joining the fight against ISIL are going to deliver maximum damage to the terror organization.

On one hand, Sen. McCain should reel back his desire to send thousands more ground forces back into battle.

On the other hand, the president of the United States ought to quit soft-pedaling the threat of combat that awaits these forces.


In other news, U.S. kills another ISIL leader


Americans went to the polls today in a couple more states to vote on the next president of the United States.

Meanwhile, the guy who still holds the office — Barack H. Obama — can claim another victory in the nation’s fight against the Islamic State.

Another ISIL leader has been smoked.

Abu Omar al-Shishani, aka Omar the Chechen, reportedly has been killed in a U.S. air strike, giving the United States another notch in its belt as it seeks to seek out and destroy ISIL leaders.

The strike occurred in Syria, which is where Russian, Jordanian, French and British air forces have joined the Americans in the air campaigns against the monstrous terror organization.

Omar the Chechen was the minister of war for the Islamic State, which I guess means he helped plan the strategies that ISIL is carrying out against those who oppose the organization’s effort to bring misery to anyone on Earth.

According to reports, the strike involved waves of manned and unmanned aircraft targeting Shishani, who reportedly had been sent to Syria to shore up terrorist troops that had suffered setbacks on the battlefield.

Against the backdrop of the presidential campaign, it’s interesting to note what one of the Republican challengers has suggested. Donald J. Trump has actually proposed letting ISIL overthrow the Syrian regime. Yes, let the terrorists take over a sovereign nation. That’s what Trump has suggested.

That, I dare say, is an utterly insane idea.

I’d rather continue doing the course on which we’ve embarked, which is to keep bombing the daylights out of ISIL troops and their key leaders.

We possess the firepower to bring extreme misery to the enemy.

We’ve done so yet again. Would it be the final ISIL leader to be killed if Omar the Chechen’s death is confirmed? No.

Still, it still looks like a victory in our war against the Islamic State.


Muslims are killing Muslims in Middle East


The U.S. presidential campaigners keep bringing up the threat that Islamic terrorists pose to Americans, mainly Christians and Jews.

What none of them seems able or willing to acknowledge publicly — very much — is what those terrorists are doing to fellow Muslims.

Did you see the story the other day about the mosque in Damascus, Syria, that was attacked by Islamic State ghouls? Dozens of Muslims, mainly Shiites, were killed in the attack.

It was only the latest in a long and miserable string of such attacks that have been occurring throughout the Middle East — and in other primarily Muslim countries — since, oh, forever.

The Islamic State’s campaign against anyone who disagrees with their perverted philosophy has been aimed primarily against those within the Islamic faith. How many Muslims do you suppose have died at the hands of the ISIL monsters? Thousands? Tens of thousands?

And that brings me to my point.

The world war against ISIL must include a broad range of military action launched and coordinated by the people who (a) face the most direct threat from these terrorists and (b) have been the terrorists’ most frequent victims.

I saw the other day that Saudi Arabia is inching toward committing ground troops to the fight against ISIL in Syria. Do you know what’s so fascinating about that development, were it to come to fruition?

Saudi Arabia is a mainly Sunni Muslim nation, made up of people ISIL claims to represent.

I do not have the answer for how any world leader — whether it’s the president of the United States, the head of the European Union or a potentate in some tiny sheikdom — can muster the forces needed to fight these hideous religious perverts.

The Damascus mosque attack, though, does drive home the point that some U.S. politicians have recognized already.

It is that this country has shed enough blood already. Yes, we should continue our air campaign along with our allies who’ve also been wounded by terrorist attacks — and we should prosecute that campaign with all the vigor possible. The real fight on the ground must include those who are closest to the enemy and who stand most directly in harm’s way.

There can be no doubt ISIL has designs on spreading its terror far beyond the Middle East. That is why the countries in the region need to step up even more aggressively to take on the terrorists.

It is their fight to win.


Critiquing final SOTU for this POTUS


This won’t be a thorough point-by-point critique of President Obama’s final State of the Union speech, but I want to offer a few observations of what I believe to be the high points . . . and a particular low point of his speech.

Generally, I believe he hit the right tone and sent the correct message on a number of points.

Such as:

Our political system needs an overhaul. The president sought to quell the “toxic” atmosphere that lingers over Capitol Hill and along the presidential campaign trail. He acknowledges that a State of the Union during a presidential election year is going to run headlong into partisan divisions. But it need not result in turning adversaries into enemies, he said.

This toxicity isn’t new. It’s shown itself at times during the entire existence of the Republic. Its victims have been politicians of both political parties — and more than that if you want to count the Whigs, which morphed into today’s Republican Party.

But just because we’ve had this kind of loathing of individuals with whom we differ for as long as any of us can remember doesn’t negate the need to change it.

The anger has spread to those who worship certain religious faiths and who are victimized solely because of their beliefs. Such hatred must cease. It is, as the president said, “not who we are.”

Obama is right, however, to lay the bulk of the responsibility for that change on us out here in Voter Land. The politicians do our bidding. If we demand a change, then they’ll have to heed us.


The economy has turned around. He hit on something most of us knew he would say. The nation’s economic standing is far better now than it was when Barack H. Obama took office.

We’ve cut joblessness in half; reduced the annual budget deficit by 75 percent; our auto industry is setting records; our banks and other financial institutions are healthy again.

Does the president deserve all the credit? No. It did happen on his watch.

We remain the world’s indispensable nation. The presidential candidates have been making hay on the stump about the United States’ lack of “greatness.” They contend we are weak, that we cower in the face of danger.

The president said, though, that the world “doesn’t turn to Moscow or Beijing” when times get dicey. “It turns to us.”

Why is that so, if we’re such a basket case?

We’re continuing to fight the war on terror aggressively. The president told us of how more than 10,000 air strikes have killed Islamic State leaders and fighters, disrupted command and control operations, obliterated ISIL’s oil supplies — and is doing so with the help of 60 nations allied behind our effort to destroy these terror networks.

Yet his foes keep saying we should “do more.” One of them, U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, said the president isn’t doing enough. What, then, does Chairman Thornberry propose? Oh, yeah. Let’s put “boots on the ground,” which is a cleaned-up way to say, “Let’s put even more young American lives in jeopardy.”

No one should be naĂŻve to think this concentrated air campaign against ISIL, al-Qaeda or al-Shabaab is going to go smoothly all the time. Wars never do.

As for the nature of this war . . .

It is a world war, Mr. President. Obama sought to downgrade this conflict into something less than a global conflict. He is mistaken.

It is true that we aren’t engaged on battlefields around the world the way we were from 1941 until 1945. This war, though, is different in every conceivable way. We aren’t fighting nation-states. We are fighting ideologies, whose practitioners live among us and who prey on innocent victims, so-called “soft targets.”

I believe it is a world war, but not in the historical sense of the term.

* **

Barack Obama didn’t likely change many minds last night. His approval ratings might tick up just a bit, but then they’ll settle back down to where they have stood for years. His foes will be sure to keep beating the drums of pessimism and gloom.

Me? I’m as concerned as the next guy about the future. Then again, I’ve lived long enough and seen enough political turmoil — and warfare — to understand that we are truly are an exceptional nation.

Well done, Mr. President.

Hitting ISIL ‘harder than ever,’ but is it hard enough?


When the White House announces that the president of the United States is going to the Pentagon to make a statement, I tend to expect something big … maybe really big.

President Obama made a statement today, but I must say it left me wishing for more.

It didn’t come.

The president, though, did restate his anti-Islamic State war strategy but did so with a good bit more vigor.

It looked like a do-over from his brief speech a week ago that left many Americans — even some Democrats who normally support the president — wondering when the commander in chief is going to get seriously worked up over ISIL’s reign of terror.

The numbers add up to significant damage being inflicted on ISIL, the president said. Here’s part of what he said:

“We are hitting ISIL harder than ever. Coalition aircraft, our fighters, bombers and drones have been increasing the pace of airstrikes, nearly 9,000 as of today,” Obama said, adding that ISIL has lost roughly 40 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq.

I happen to agree with Obama that we need not send a huge ground force back into Iraq to fight the Islamic State.

To be honest, though, I’m waiting for evidence that the strategy we’re pursuing is actually forcing ISIL’s retreat. The president said we’ve retaken a large percentage of ISIL territory, but then we see reports of ISIL scoring more battlefield victories.

I’m going to continue hoping that one day we’ll be able to hear a presidential statement — whether it’s the current one or the individual who succeeds him — that ISIL has, in fact, been destroyed.

However, I will not hold my breath.


President restates anti-terror policy, and then …


President Obama has asked something of Congress that the legislative branch of government isn’t likely to do.

He wants Congress to authorize the commander in chief to keep up the fight against the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations abroad.

The president’s speech from the Oval Office tonight didn’t break much new ground. He restated what he’s already done in the effort to destroy ISIL.

The bombing campaign will continue; we’ll deploy special forces to work with local ground forces in Iraq and Syria; we’ll keep hunting down terrorist leaders; we will work with allies such as France, the U.K. and Germany to pound terrorist targets; and we will seek to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria so that our allies and “other countries, such as Russia” can concentrate on eliminating international terrorists.

Then came the challenge to the other branch of government that needs to buy into this struggle.

Congress must vote to authorize continued action. The British Parliament enacted a similar authorization this past week and within minutes of the vote, British jets took off to hit ISIL targets in Syria.

The president has asked Congress, in effect, to issue a declaration of war against ISIL. Will it happen? I’m not holding my breath.

Republicans who control both legislative chambers seem to believe we need to commit ground troops to this fight. They want to return American service personnel to the battlefield. Air strikes aren’t enough, they say. So, let’s put “boots on the ground.”

The president won’t do that. He reiterated that view again tonight.

However, he has tendered a reasonable challenge to Congress. Let’s put forward a united front to our enemies, authorize the president to continue the fight and demonstrate that the United States is fully committed to winning this war.

My own view is that we’re at war with the Islamic State, then the president needs to ask Congress to issue the declaration of war … and that Congress needs to act.

What we have now on the table is the next-best thing.

Members of Congress, give the president the authorization he seeks to fight this war.


Time for a strategy change against ISIL, Mr. President

Thick smoke from an airstrike by the US-led coalition rises in Kobani, Syria, as seen from a hilltop on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Kobani, also known as Ayn Arab, and its surrounding areas, has been under assault by extremists of the Islamic State group since mid-September and is being defended by Kurdish fighters. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Michael Vickers knows a lot about terrorists and how to fight them.

He’s written an essay for Politico that lays out an interesting argument directed straight at President Barack Obama.

The thrust of his message? Change your strategy in this fight against the Islamic State and the Levant, Mr. President.

It’s interesting to me what Vickers doesn’t say. He doesn’t insist that we send in thousands of ground troops to resume our war in the region. Instead he says it’s time to focus our immense air power on Syria, where he said ISIL’s strength has gone global. The Iraq-based enemy, Vickers asserts, is more of a “local” threat. The Syrian element is much more dangerous and invasive, he writes.

Vickers worked as a Special Operations and CIA officer. He helped draft strategies for fighting the Red Army when it invaded Afghanistan in 1980. He also assisted in planning the SEAL/CIA mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

The man’s got anti-terrorism chops.

Perhaps the most provocative and dramatic element of his strategy is this: “Airstrikes are not enough, however. We must leverage the moderate Syrian opposition—and they do exist in the tens of thousands—to dislodge ISIL and Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, from their territory. As we did in Afghanistan, we must support the moderate opposition with overwhelming air power, substantially increase the flow of arms to the moderate opposition, and place special operations and intelligence advisers with them. With American assistance, a much smaller insurgent force defeated the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. With our many Sunni partners, we can do the same in Syria.”

According to Vickers, we need to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the moderate Syrians who are fighting Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State.

President Obama’s strategy, according to critics in both parties at home, has become too timid. Yes, we’re scoring victories here and there. We’ve managed to wipe out known terror leaders and high-profile assassins, such as Mohammad Emwazi, aka Jihadi John.

But we’ve got some help standing by, ready to assist in this aerial campaign. Russia has gotten damn angry over the bombing of that jetliner that killed 224 people; France has unleashed its significant air power in response to the recent attack in Paris.

As Vickers has said, the time has come to ratchet up the attacks not only in Syria but also in states where ISIL is known to be operating.

Listen to this man, Mr. President.