This makes for a pathetic LoL of the day:
The Institute for Science and International Security is having some acronym woes.
The highly regarded nonprofit, non-partisan outfit, which seeks to stop the spread of nukes to other countries and to terrorists, posted a plea Tuesday on its Web site under the heading “Needless Collateral Damage.” It asked that everyone please stop using its acronym, ISIS, “as a shortening for the name of the jihadist terrorist group named, in transliterated Arabic, the Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham.”
Sure, that would be really snappy: The “ADAIFAIWAAS,” or maybe just DIFI. (But then the senior senator from California, Dianne Feinstein (D), would be most upset.)
How about JV-IS?
In its post, the good ISIS says that the bad ISIS “announced in June that it was changing its name to the ‘Islamic State” and suggests that the media use “IS.” (Seriously? Then we get back to what the meaning of “is” is. No, we’ll stick with ISIS.)
The good ISIS says “the widespread, persistent use of the acronym ISIS to refer to this terrorist organization” causes “considerable confusion” and “reputational harm.” Besides, the good ISIS says, they had it first, having used that acronym since 1993.
That’s of little matter, since dueling acronyms are a constant problem in this acronym-crazed town.
Remember when WWE was once known as WWF? No? Nevermind then.
Glenn Kessler on the WaPo’s Fact Checker examines the screwball spin that White House spokesman Josh Earnest gave about a week ago to President Obama’s JV comment in dismissing the relevance of the Islamic State as being anything consequential to world and national security, on the scale of al Qaeda’s threat:
Question: “Did the president underestimate ISIS [the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] when he referred to them in an interview only a couple months ago as a JV squad and making a reference to National Basketball Association basketball teams like the Lakers?”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest: “I thought somebody might ask this question today so I wanted to pull the transcript of the interview because it’s important to understand the context in which this was delivered. So let me just read the full quote and then we can talk about it:
“‘I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.’
“So the president was not singling out ISIL [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, another name for the group], he was talking about the very different threat that is posed by a range of extremists around the globe. Many of them do not have designs on attacking the West or attacking the United States, and that is what puts them in stark contrast to the goals and capability of the previously existing al-Qaeda core network that was led by Osama bin Laden.”
– exchange at White House news briefing, Aug. 25, 2014
Here is Kessler’s fact check into history:
The New Yorker article, written by David Remnick, appeared in the Jan. 27, 2014, issue. It was clearly based on a series of interviews with the president, over a period of months, but the interview in question took place in the Oval Office on Jan. 7, according to the previously unreleased transcript.
The date is important because just four days before, newspapers reported that the Islamic State had captured and raised its flag over Fallujah, where Marines in 2004 had fought one of the bloodiest battles of the U.S. invasion. As Liz Sly of The Washington Post reported:
A rejuvenated al-Qaeda-affiliated force asserted control over the western Iraqi city of Fallujah on Friday, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U.S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago….
The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that was formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while escalating its activities in Iraq.
It was in that context that Remnick asked about a possible resurgence of al-Qaeda. Here is what the transcript shows:
Q: You know where this is going, though. Even in the period that you’ve been on vacation in the last couple of weeks, in Iraq, in Syria, of course, in Africa, al-Qaeda is resurgent.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but, David, I think the analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.
Q: But that JV team jus[t] took over Fallujah.
THE PRESIDENT: I understand. But when you say took over Fallujah –
Q: And I don’t know for how long.
THE PRESIDENT: But let’s just keep in mind, Fallujah is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology is a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.
The president’s “JV” comment was so striking that Remnick, in his article, referred to it as “an uncharacteristically flip analogy.” The New Yorker article does not specifically refer to ISIS, but it is fairly clear in the article — and certainly clear in the transcript — that Remnick was asking about its takeover of Fallujah.
In the White House briefing, Earnest asserted that Obama was referring to groups that “do not have designs on attacking the West or on attacking the United States … they certainly don’t have the capability of attacking the West.” He told reporters that “it’s important that we don’t sort of shorthand the analogy that the president was trying to draw here,” in that the president was referring to “jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes.”
But the context of Remnick’s question makes it clear that he was asking about ISIS, as the president acknowledged. Perhaps at the time the president viewed it as a local matter between jihadists, but now, eight months later, the United States is striking Islamic State targets in an effort to turn back its advance across Iraqi territory.
Although some Islamist militants are localized and regional (think it would remain as such? Think a Caliphate in the Levant would stop there?), the problem of Islamic violence and tyranny is a world-wide affair. Furthermore, all of these numerous Islamic groups and organizations- despite being, in some cases, rival competitors- have shared interests, shared goals, cross-over funding and training, and links.
The mistake of so many (especially those who, like President Obama, want to return us to a 9/10 model and mentality of treating Islamic terrorism- both domestic and exported/international- as an act of criminality rather than an act of war, to be dealt with through law enforcement and courts) is to regard the War on Terror as narrowly confined to one terror organization- al Qaeda.
When bin Laden declared war on the U.S., his second fatwa wasn’t signed by just him. It was signed under the banner of not al Qaeda but the World Islamic Front. It included the signatures of Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (becoming al Qaeda’s second-in-command); Abu-Yasir Rafa’l Ahmad Taha, leader of the Islamic Group; Sheikh Mir Hamzah, secretary of the Jumiat-ut-Ulema-e-Pakistan; and Fazlul Rahman, leader of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh. It was never just “al Qaeda” that was at war with us in 1998 (and prior), as we “slept”.
Rather than just “the Base”, we are at war with the al Qaeda network; which is why in so many news articles over the last decade, you’d see an act of terrorism attributed to a cell or organization that “has ties to al Qaeda” or described as “an affiliate”. We are more properly at war with a global jihad movement.
Whereas critics of the GWoT and those Democrats and Ron Paul Isolationist/non-interventionists saw President Bush as expanding the war rather than narrow focus on OBL and his merry band of religious nuts, perceiving it to begin and end with al Qaeda, President Bush stated it correctly from the beginning:
“Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
-President Bush in an address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, United States Capitol, Washington D.C., September 20, 2001.
Whether they are playing Junior Varsity Jihadism or stepped their game up to Varsity Pro and the big leagues of international terrorism…Whether it’s Hamas in the Gaza Strip, al-Shabaab in Somalia, al-Nusra Front in Syria, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Jemaah Islamiyah in Southeast Asia, or ISIS in Iraq (as well as so many more), these terror groups are all related; and they all have something in common, aside from the terror and the violence: Forced conversion, purification, and Islamification of the world.
It’s all the same war. A war against modernity and civilized civilization: