Another Beheading: The U.S. Must Demonstrate Greater Strength

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 and is filed under Blog, Foreign Policy

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British Prime Minister David Cameron appears to be a stronger leader than President Obama in the fight against terrorist group ISIS, who horrifically beheaded another victim this weekend.

British aid worker David Haines was killed – the third in a string of brutal murders captured on video and sent across the Internet – this time as “a message to the allies of America,” according to the video.

The UK joined the United States in a coalition against ISIS, but the terrorists are hardly backing down and are said to have at least one more American and Brit in their custody.

Haines was captured just a few days into his aid mission in Syria and his death follows those of American Journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff.

While British Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.K. must deal with ISIS, whose acts he has called “pure evil,” President Obama’s reactions have been mostly tempered talking points read with little emotion. Passionate anger against these killers from the President is absent but it’s something Americans need to see from our President in this time of crisis.

In response to Haines’ murder, Obama said, “The United States strongly condemns the barbaric murder of UK citizen David Haines by the terrorist group ISIL (ISIS).”

The murder came on the heels of the U.S. decision to launch 160 air strikes against ISIS in Iraq – what is likely just the beginning of a longer campaign.

According to Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.S. is hoping to get as many allies as possible to act against ISIS, which the CIA estimates may have as many as 32,000 fighters to date.

While it’s good we are taking action now, it took far too long for the President to present a strategy while his State Department dabbled in other, ineffective online actions. For example, the State Department released a badly made video called “Welcome to the Islamic State” and hosts a Twitter account, Think Again, Turn Away – but one wonders why these tactics were deployed before a real strategy existed.

And while the Administration has finally stopped throwing hashtags on signs from official State Department spokespeople, they don’t seem much more professional than that. Yesterday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said America is at war with ISIS, which contradicts what Kerry said last week when he refused to characterize current U.S. actions as war.

When pressed after McDonough’s statement, Kerry admitted “we are at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates…yes, we are at war with ISIL [ISIS]…”

The Obama Administration needs to get their message straight and strong.  The President may want to leave a golden legacy of having ended a war, but his time is running out and the world’s future may depend on the leadership we provide right now.