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Lederman writes: "Reassuring a nation on edge, President Barack Obama said Sunday that the Islamic State group 'cannot strike a mortal blow' against the U.S., and he warned that overreacting to the Paris attacks would play into extremists' hands. 'We will destroy this terrorist organization,' he vowed."

President Barack Obama. (photo: AP)
President Barack Obama. (photo: AP)

Obama Warns Against Overreaction to Islamic State Attacks

By Josh Lederman, Associated Press

22 November 15


eassuring a nation on edge, President Barack Obama said Sunday that the Islamic State group "cannot strike a mortal blow" against the U.S., and he warned that overreacting to the Paris attacks would play into extremists' hands. "We will destroy this terrorist organization," he vowed.

Ending a trip to Asia, Obama implored Americans not to let the specter of terror cause them to compromise their values or change the way they live

"We do not succumb to fear," he said. "The most powerful tool we have to fight ISIL is to say that we're not afraid, to not elevate them, to somehow buy into their fantasy that they're doing something important," Obama said, using an acronym for the terrorist organization.

Since IS militants killed 130 in France nine days ago, Obama's strategy has come under repeated questioning. He dismissed the group's global prowess of IS and said, "They're a bunch of killers with good social media."

Rejecting the notion of an existential threat, Obama said IS "can't beat us on the battlefield, so they try to terrorize us into being afraid."

"I think it is absolutely vital for every country, every leader, to send a signal that the viciousness of a handful of killers does not stop the world from doing vital business," Obama said. The president and world leaders are set to gather in Paris next week for long-scheduled climate talks. The White House has insisted there will be no change in plans.

Obama also said there was an "increasing awareness" by Russian President Vladimir Putin that IS is Moscow's gravest threat in the Middle East. IS claimed responsibility for downing a Russian passenger jet in Egypt last month with 224 on board.

Long before that, Obama had urged Putin to use Russia's air campaign in Syria to target IS, not U.S.-backed rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, a Moscow ally. U.S. officials have said Russia has started focusing some airstrikes against IS. Obama said it was not clear whether Putin could work effectively with the U.S.-led coalition.

Putin "needs to go after the people who killed Russia's citizens," Obama said. The two met last week during an economic summit in Turkey.

Nearly five years of fighting between Assad and Syrian rebels has created a vacuum that allowed IS to thrive in both Syria and Iraq. More recently, the militant group has started exporting violence outside its stronghold, radiating fears across the West. U.S. officials have said IS aspires to attack America but they have played down any specific threat.

As Obama spoke in the Malaysian capital, other Western leaders were stepping up their rhetoric against IS, while the European diplomatic hub of Brussels remained under the highest threat level for the second day in a row. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the West would "annihilate Islamic State worldwide."

After Obama's return to Washington early Monday, he will prepare for a White House meeting with French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday, where the leaders will discuss bolstering the international coalition fighting IS. Hollande then goes to Russia for similar talks with Putin.

U.S.-led military efforts come amid parallel talks about a diplomatic solution to end Syria's civil war. The violence has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced millions, leading to a migrant crisis in Europe and intense concerns in the U.S. about Obama's plan to take in thousands of Syrian refugees.

U.S. lawmakers are pushing legislation to tighten screening requirements for Syrian refugees; some Republican presidential candidates want to halt their entry. In Turkey and the Philippines last week, Obama pushed back on those proposals as un-American, drawing criticism from some who said he failed to grasp Americans' post-Paris fears.

The president has since softened his tone. His administration tried to convince U.S. House members that the refugee screening process was sufficient, and Obama began entertaining a U.S. Senate proposal to deny visa waivers to recent visitors to Iraq and Syria. That program lets foreigners enter the U.S. without visas from 38 countries for short stays.

"The American people are right to be concerned," Obama said Sunday. Still, he said there's a difference between vigilance and surrendering to fears "that lead us to abandon our values, to abandon how we live."

Obama's insistence that Americans not be terrorized carried echoes of the weeks and months after the Sept. 11 attacks, which brought significant changes to U.S. air travel, civil liberties law and views about Muslims in the U.S. Then, as in now, leaders asked Americans not to "let the terrorists win."

"Our nation was horrified, but it's not going to be terrorized," President George W. Bush declared five days after those attacks. "We're a nation that can't be cowed by evil-doers."

Obama brought up the 9/11 analogy when he answered questions at a news conference Sunday. He said the U.S. had survived mass casualties before and pointed out that New York's Times Square was again filled with people - "rightly so."

"I was very proud of the fact that the fundamental nature of America and how we treated each other did not change," Obama said. "We've made some bad decisions subsequent to that attack in part based on fear, and that's why we have to be cautious." your social media marketing partner


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0 # Ralph 2015-11-22 20:00
It is to the point that the US populace has been whipped up into a hate-mongering frenzy that even our serial murdering president is starting to become concerned. We are circling the drain as a nation. I sense that the velvet gloves are about to come off this fascist sham.
+8 # Archie1954 2015-11-23 00:30
Wouldn't it have been much easier not to have created it in the first place?
+5 # Old4Poor 2015-11-23 00:37
The only "nation" on edge is that of the News heads with their constant crisis mentality and the small % of the citizens who enjoy frightening themselves.

I am usually a news junkie but the past week plus I have been fast forwarding most of my usual shows.
-4 # lewagner 2015-11-23 00:42
Right, all these attacks discussed here happened just as reported in the Washington Post.
19 Arabs with box-cutters and disappearing airplanes, and now a mass shooting of which no video exists, and only one blurry picture.
But we all believe it, because it's reported here in the alternative, independent reader-supporte d media.
We're no sheeple here, we do OUR research!
+8 # btbees 2015-11-23 03:33
Obama's stated goal in Syria is to destabilize the country and overthrow the elected leader, Assad. Much like has been done in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. The US has caused chaos and loss of life for years in Syria by supporting and funding ISIS/CIA. Now, with the Paris hysteria he says "We will destroy this terrorist organization." I believe this is called being caught between a rock and a hard place. Noam Chomsky said one of the best ways to stop terrorism is to stop participating in it. A good start would be for the US to stop meddling in Middle East countries and get out, as in GET OUT!
+3 # RMDC 2015-11-23 06:27
"a nation on edge"

Come on. Give me a break. Maybe there is a media on edge, but for 99.9% of Americans nothing has changed since the emergence of the CIA mercenary force called ISIS. Certainly Obama is not on edge. He is quite low keyed about the CIA's operations in Iraq and Syria (other places, too).

I thought we were well beyond accepting such dogshit as this article from AP?
0 # Ralph 2015-11-23 07:09
I would like to slough off what is happening in this country but the denial would be too great. Political "leaders" are openly calling for mass persecution of the population based on religion. Many USans are filled with fear and hate. We haven't seen this before. How much longer before a night of long knives? The parallels are obvious.
+6 # MidwestTom 2015-11-23 07:40
Russia seems to be doing a pretty good number on ISIS, maybe that is because they are not funding 'good' bad guys who once they are trained and get their weapons, join the other side. Remember 3000 HumVees to Iraq, and ISIS now has a 2300 of them. We should simply GET OUT. Let Russia deal with them.
+5 # Ralph 2015-11-23 08:15
Funny how there is very little investigation into the money, arms and equipment trail of ISIS. Very little mention of the fact that ISIS holds tons of arms and equipment that the US dumped into Iraq. With all this "instability" in the ME, you would think gas would be $5 a gallon. It's down to a $1.75 in these parts and that should give everyone pause as to what is really happening here.
0 # RMDC 2015-11-23 19:37
The British rag called The Daily Mail ran an article last week that said ISIS has 2 trillion dollars in the bank. This money was stolen from banks in Iraq and also came from oil sales. I don't believe it at all. but it does beg the question about why someone is not investigating where all of ISIS's money, equipment, guns, uniforms, etc come from.

Gas is really low right now because the US and Saudi Arabia want to defund Russia which depends a lot on oil income. Obama can't stop the Russian diplomatic offensive, so he's trying to run them into debt. This is economic warfare against Russia (and Venezeula).
0 # bardphile 2015-11-23 11:32
Even Max Boot (this morning's LA Times) is calling for a more nuanced approach to defeating ISIS than the repub candidates are demanding. Caleb Carr has an op/ed calling for similar restraint, holding up Tommy Franks' careful strategy after 9/11 while condemning the Iraq invasion. There has been quite a bit of counter-comment ary in the MSM since Paris, to balance the jingoistic nonsense over at Fox. Of course, that may change when ISIS hits us here...
-1 # lsd 2015-11-23 12:02
Hey Josh, why do we even have a press? Why not save time and just have the gov issue daily "news" and then the MSM can focus stictly on entertainment and advertisements.
0 # RMDC 2015-11-23 19:38
lsd -- this is exactly what Sam Zell said when he bought the LA Times, Chicago Tribune and a lot of other once good newspapers.
+4 # PABLO DIABLO 2015-11-23 16:20
Gee, you would think that if Russia and the USA have a common enemy (ISIS) they might co-operate and work together. Putin saved Obama from full scale war over "chemical weapons" in Syria and the agreement with Iran to not build nukes. That pissed off the Neocons. "Regime change" in IRAQ,AFGHANISTA N, LIBYA, UKRAINE, and now Syria has gone as well as Vietnam, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Etc., etc. WAKE UP AMERICA.

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