Obama’s Hollow Words Aren’t Enough to Stop ISIS
When the video of Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive in a cage appeared on the Internet on Tuesday, Jordanian King Abdullah II happened to be in Washington on a previously scheduled trip.
A few hours after the clip began circulating — the most recent example of the prurient interest Westerners have been taking in Islamic State pornography — Abdullah arrived at the White House for a private meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. The tete-a-tete was arranged at the last minute, because Abdullah had to cut his trip short.
Unlike Obama, whose response to the beheading of American captives by the same Islamic State behemoths was to resume playing golf and assert that none of their actions had anything to do with Islam, Abdullah was in a hurry to return home to exact revenge.
After the meeting, White House spokesman Alistair Baskey stated: “The president and King Abdullah reaffirmed that the vile murder of this brave Jordanian will only serve to steel the international community’s resolve to destroy ISIL.” (Obama remains among a minority who still refer to the Islamic State terrorists as ISIL, rather than ISIS, a distinction worthy of note.)
This echoed a statement Obama made before the meeting, in which he vowed that the murder of the pilot would “redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of our global coalition to make sure [the terrorists] are degraded and ultimately defeated.”
The American leader’s lip service must have made the Jordanian king laugh.
In the first place, the Obama administration recently turned down Jordan’s request for Predator spy drones that would help it locate Islamic State targets. And not only is Jordan a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State, but it is a crucial one, because it shares borders with Iraq and Syria, where the terrorist organization controls wide swaths of territory.
In the second place, Abdullah has none of the constraints that are part and parcel of democratic rule. He is able to take words like “vigilance” and “defeating the enemy” literally. He can act on them as he pleases, particularly in this case. The Jordanian people — who didn’t want their country to join the coalition against Islamic State in the first place — are in an outrage over the excruciating, slow slaughter of one of their pilots, who had been captured in December when his plane crashed in Syria.
Still, Abdullah already had figured out that Obama and his motley crew (such as Vice President Joe Biden, with whom he had lunch on Tuesday and who reacted to the pilot’s killing by calling for the release of all prisoners held by Islamic State) were not the go-to guys if you wanted to get something done.
Indeed, early Tuesday he met with members of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee to make his case for drones and other military materiel, including ammunition. There he was given such a sympathetic audience that he let loose with his intentions.
Quoting a line from Clint Eastwood’s 1992 movie “Unforgiven,” he basically announced that his gloves were off. He made no bones about his aim to mete out severe retribution. Not moral imperatives. Not deterrence. Not making the world safe for democracy. Nope — pure vengeance. Cold, hard pursuit, “until we run out of fuel and bullets.”
And guess what? Cheers could be heard for King Abdullah all over Facebook and Twitter — as though this ongoing global travesty really is a Clint Eastwood film. A meme that says it all appeared with a photo of the king in full military garb (he is a former general and a pilot, to boot) juxtaposed against a picture of Obama in his golf cart.
Abdullah didn’t care one way or the other how he was perceived, however. Upon his arrival back in Jordan, the first thing he did was to order the execution by hanging of two al-Qaida prisoners — a woman and a man — whose release was being demanded by Islamic State and “negotiated” the previous week.
Then, on Thursday, he sent dozens of fighter jets to bombard Islamic State targets, even in Iraq. This is a new development. Up until now, Jordan has only struck targets in Syria.
According to Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, the strike, which purportedly killed some 60 terrorists, is the beginning of the kingdom’s stepped-up campaign against the group.
“We said we are going to take this all the way,” Judeh told Fox News, the only media outlet that decided to broadcast the footage of al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive. “We are going to go after them wherever they are and we’re doing that.”
Footage of Jordanian pilots prior to the strike showed them writing “messages” in chalk on their missiles, one of which read: “For you, the enemies of Islam.”
A statement was issued on Jordanian television, warning: “This is the beginning and you will get to know the Jordanians.”
Most notable about this is the fact that none of the decapitations committed by Islamic State against American, British and Japanese captives received such a forceful and swift reaction. This is not because beheading is less horrifying than burning, though it would seem that YouTube viewers have become a bit used to the former.
No, the only real difference here is that the prisoner in question was an Arab himself, with the pride and wrath of his king being tested in the cage along with him.
When are we going to see American missiles with the message “For the enemies of the West” etched on their sides? By the time such a fantasy is even feasible, it will be too late.
Obama should hang his head in shame for handing over his duties to a despot. But he is too busy attacking the prime minister of Israel for accepting an invitation to address Congress and warn about global jihad.
Ruthie Blum is the Web Editor of Voice of Israel radio (voiceofisrael.com). This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.