Thursday, February 19, 2015

Labels & Legacy

LABELS – The president has been getting a lot of flak lately from both pundits and politicians over his refusal to label ISIS “Islamic Extremists.” The criticism became even more heated after ISIS’ Al-Hayat media released a video titled: “A message signed with blood to the nations of the cross.” The video shows the brutal beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians who the ISIS narrator refers to as: “the people of the cross, the followers of the hostile Egyptian church.” The narrator goes on to exclaim: “Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for…They supplicate what they worship and die upon their paganism…and we will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.” Clearly this video is intended to send a message to Christians. But does it serve to define ISIS as “Islamic” extremists?

I assumed that the president was going to great lengths to avoid using “ISIS” and “Islam” in the same sentence for fear of offending members of the Muslim community who follow the Koran and abhor the tactics used by ISIS. My assumption was proven correct when the president finally responded to the criticism saying that he doesn’t use terms like “Islamic Extremism” because he believes that: “doing so would promote the false idea of a Western war with Islam.”” No religion is responsible for terrorism” the president said.” People are responsible for violence and terrorism…We are not at war with Islam…We are at war with the people who have perverted Islam…Of course the terrorists do not speak for a billion Muslims who reject their ideology…They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God, represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism.”
Hopefully the president’s statement will end this silly debate. Better to spend our time debating what to do to stop ISIS rather than what to label it.

LEGACY – Jeb Bush gave his first remarks on foreign policy yesterday. In terms of specifics and substance it would be charitable to call his remarks “vague.” But he made one thing very clear; when it comes to foreign policy he will not be drawn in to comparisons with his father or brother. Jeb says that when it comes to dealing with foreign policy and crises abroad: “I am my own man.”
Jeb may be his own man, but as Phillip Bump of “The Fix” reports, prospective candidate has surrounded himself with foreign policy advisors that reads like a who’s who from the years of Bush 41 & 43. James Baker, George Schultz, Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff, Paul Wolfowitz, John Negroponte, Michael Hayden and Porter Goss to name a few.

Jeb will have a great deal of difficulty distancing himself from his famous, some say infamous, family legacy. That journey becomes even more difficult now that he has cloaked himself with the architects of some of the worst foreign policy decisions in our history.

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