President Barack Obama cut short his official visit to India, where he was mending fences with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to attend funeral services for King Abdullah - the leader of Saudi Arabia. In India, Obama sat down with CNN newsman Fareed Zakaria who told him that Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham had criticized the president for failing to admit that the United States is in a “religious war” with Islam. Zakaria also said that critics have scored Obama for failing to mention “Islamic terrorists.” 
Obama replied, “The way to understand this is that there is an element growing out of Muslim communities in certain parts of the world that have perverted the religion and have embraced a nihilistic violent almost medieval interpretation of Islam, and they are doing damage in a lot of countries around the world.” Moreover, said Obama, radical terrorism is rejected by “99.9 percent” of the Muslim world. Obama’s remarks echoed, Secretary of State John Kerry who said last week, “ Today, we are witnessing nothing more than a form of criminal anarchy, a nihilism, which illegitimately claims an ideological and religious foundation.”
Among the critics of Obama’s strategy is retired General Jack Keane, who told Fox News Sunday viewers on February 1, “U.S. policymakers refuse to actively name the movement as radical Islam. We have no comprehensive strategy to stop it or defeat it.” On Fox News Sunday, guests were asked by host Chris Wallace on February 1 whether or not Obama has a real plan to beat Islamic terrorism in the Mideast. Speaking on Fox News, Keane said “…the United States is confronting a security challenge at a scale that's not seen since post-World War II, with the rise of the Soviet Union super power and the spread of communism globally.” Keane sees that “radical Islam” is becoming a global war on non-Islamic states, while Iran’s state terrorism seeks to extend its influence in the Mideast.”
As for Obama’s continued use of drone attacks, Keane said “What is our strategy? We use drones to kill al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan and also in Yemen. That's a vital tactic we should use it but it's not a strategy. We partner with very selective countries in Africa to help them do some training. That's fragmented at best. There's no overall strategy.”
Fox News foreign affairs analyst Dennis Ross, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, said that Iran and ISIS are fighting each other and that the U.S. may want both sides to lose and non-Islamists to win. However, Ross said, ISIS cannot be defeated in Iraq until the problem in Syria is resolved. Said Ross, “If you're only attacking the ISIS targets in Syria and allowing Assad to attack the non-ISIS targets, you're creating a problem for yourself. You're going to have to resolve that contradiction if you're going to have a strategy that's effective.”
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-Maine) was asked by Wallace why does it matter what name the U.S. uses to refer to its enemies in the region. She said, “It very much matters because you have to define your enemy. And here is the problem, I think they should spend less time on being worried about being politically correct about how we define our enemies and more time on a strategy to defeat them.”
Ambassador Ross said, “We have to decide, radical Islam, whether it's Sunni or Shia, is the enemy. And we have to then begin to work with those who see that as a threat to them.”
“We shouldn't be reluctant to call it "Islamic radicalism", precisely because there are those in the Middle East who see it as a threat and they're the ones who ultimately have to discredit it. We cannot discredit radical Islam. They're going to have to discredit it.”



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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