Several weeks ago the President indiscreetly admitted the absence of an American strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Such candor is as unwise as it is genuine. The want of a strategy arises out of a want of understanding. Thirteen years ago, when Jihadist infiltrators brought mayhem and incineration to Lower Manhattan, a want of understanding was to be expected. Its persistence today suggests a closing of the American mind to uncomfortable facts which finds its epitome in the President himself.
Now having been constrained by events and by the omnipresence of domestic political reality, the President, as of this writing, is set to deliver a speech detailing the limits of what we may expect of him respecting his engagement with these uncomfortable facts. It is our conceit that a chastened Mr. Obama, having shaken free of the shackles of his own specially acute case epistemic closure, has instead sought out from the body of the nation advice for the defeat of the Jihad, and delivered the following address.
My Fellow Americans,
It is now nearly thirteen difficult years since the catastrophe of September 11th, 2001. Since that day America has been at war, and many great acts of valor and self-sacrifice have been made by our military during that time, winning many victories even while there has been great division here at home over how best to respond to what I will henceforth call the Islamic Jihad.
Since 2009 it has been my privilege to serve as your Commander in Chief, to lead our nation through this long crisis. But it is I who am now humbled by the horrors that have lately been unleashed on America and on the world, not least by our own refusal to accept the scope and the nature of the threat that now menaces us at home and abroad.
I am shamed by the dishonor that has been heaped upon us by the attack on our consulate in Benghazi two years ago: the breach of basic civilized standards of conduct; the murder and butchery of our Ambassador there, Christopher Stephens; and furthermore the desire by some in my administration to deny or distract from the Jihadist nature of that attack. You have my assurance that such a violation of American sovereignty and dignity will never again be borne without a swift and deadly response by all the might at our disposal.
I also acknowledge the dishonor and humiliation done to America by the beastly murders of civilian journalists Stephen Sotloff and James Foley at the hands of their captors, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. I understand that the taunting of our country by those savage sons of Jihad, their wanton cruelty, and the psychological torture inflicted on those two innocents before they died, have stirred the American people to righteous anger.
I share in that fury, and I regret my slowness to acknowledge the horror that was taking shape in Iraq, even as we boasted of completing a mission that had been abandoned with haste.
In light of these and all the indignities we have suffered at the hands of the Jihad, I now seek the help of this excellent people to accomplish the following strategic goals:
First, to restore American honor by destroying the capability of the Islamic State to mount military operations inside Iraq, or to operate in any capacity on the ground where American blood has been shed in the cause of true freedom. In that effort we will respect no boundaries where the Islamic State holds sway, and we will regard any interference in our efforts to destroy the Islamic State as a hostile act.
Second, to secure the American homeland from future attack by these and any other of the soldiers of Islam in their efforts to terrorize our people into submission. To that end we will henceforth unapologetically concentrate our homeland security efforts on those who would in their cowardice come to our shores to turn our generosity and openness into a weapon to wield against the innocent and the unwary.
Third, to confound all the efforts of the Islamic Jihad to impose its will on the people of America by infiltrating and corrupting our institutions, which are our own inheritance and the gift of our unique and precious heritage, renewed every generation of the love of liberty that unites all Americans.
Efforts to betray and undermine our American liberty will be identified, resisted by all means at our disposal, and deprived of their false pretense to legitimacy.
Let me be perfectly clear: The enemies of America will know, and they will confess, that the yoke of sharia law will never rule over us, and we will never bend the knee to the flag of Islamic supremacy. Our courts and our schools will not become the instruments of our enslavement.
My promise to the American people, and to all the free peoples of the world, is that America will oppose the Jihad, without guilt or apology.
Our opposition will be guided by three principal Virtues in confronting the Islamic Jihad. These are: Humility, Respect, and Courage.
Allow me to explain how these Virtues will animate our whole strategic vision for defeating this menace in Iraq, Syria, and here at home.
First among these is Humility. It has been said that the demands of humility require us to shrink from the truth, by pretending at one and the same time that Islam is an inscrutable religion and therefore beyond criticism or reproach; and also that it can be “reformed” by our efforts to identify and encourage the moderates or the liberals among its spiritual leadership. On this mistaken view, we can never really understand Islam, but we can know enough of its traditions to promote our own view of what constitutes “true Islam.”
I now realize, rather, that true Humility requires us to acknowledge that Islam is not an ideology, and even less is it an institution that we may pack with whatever leaders we choose in service of our own agenda, as we might pack an important circuit court. True humility with respect to Islam, and especially to the Islamic Jihad, begins from the understanding that Islam is indeed the foundation of a whole civilization, and that it is not in our power to fully direct its course.
Therefore it will ever be our cause to defend ourselves from it, even as we pray for peace, and reprieve from any aggression. We cannot and will not seek to reform the Islamic religion from within or from without, as it is not in our power and our authority to correct the errors or heal the divisions of other civilizations than our own. We know that our own errors are many, but never again will we justify our resistance to Islamic Jihad with false claims of being the defenders of “true Islam,” or of bringing freedom to the people of the Koran.
The second Virtue on which I will depend to chart our way forward is Respect. Some say that the demands of respect are such as to require Americans to condescend to Islam by pretending that it is something less than a way of life, and that its sway over the hearts of those who come from Muslim countries is of little consequence. On this view, to respect Islam is to pretend that it is indistinguishable from other faiths, that we may confidently instruct Muslims that the Jihad is no real part of their religion, and that to respect Muslims is to pretend that they have no special regard for the role of their own religion in society. On this view, to be a Muslim is no different than to belong to a local rotary club.
I now realize that such a view is belittling to Islam, and that it treats Muslims as something less than full participants in their own unique civilization. Real respect for Muslims requires us to understand that those who seek to come to America in search of a better life do not, by that fact alone, abandon their deepest-held beliefs. Moreover, gaining the admiration of Muslims around the world cannot be achieved by condescension. A full decade of policies and public statements which have sought to flatter Muslims into abandoning the Jihad — which is intrinsic to the doctrine and practice of their faith — has done little good and much harm to the cause of true understanding.
Therefore, I and my advisors will be undertaking to re-examine our national security posture with respect to immigration from all parts of the world, to include those countries where the dominant house of worship is the mosque, rather than the Church, the synagogue, or the temple. America has always welcomed people of good will into its embrace, and we will continue to do so. However, we cannot permit our hospitality to become a source of conflict and division by pretending that assimilation to American society is a simple matter and that we may expect Muslims living in America to abandon the precepts by which they and their ancestors always have lived their lives.
And because we owe a measure of respect to ourselves as well as to those who would seek to come and live among us, we will seek to reform our security procedures so that they do not treat ordinary Americans as potential threats to our safety. No longer will a family of four from Indiana, who seek only to fly home to visit with their family and friends on holiday, be treated as though they might carry with them the means and the intention to murder their fellow travelers. I will be directing Transportation Secretary Foxx, in cooperation with Homeland Security Secretary Johnson, to draft a set of reform proposals that will unburden Americans from the constant suspicion of their government while doing more to intelligently identify potential threats from the Jihad that threatens us all.
Third and finally, I propose that our strategy for defeating the Jihad at home and around the world will demand great Courage, from which the American people suffers no lack. The Jihadist seeks to weaken the will of those who would resist it by inflicting horror and fear, by his acts of savage cruelty, and by his constantly repeated threats. We will no longer ignore such threats and we will no longer permit either the Jihad itself, or our own wishes for a better world, to frighten us into retreat and half-measures. We will have the courage to face our enemies, and to name him as he is.
In their audacity and their eagerness for power the Islamic State has presented us with a rare opportunity. For while ISIS is only too willing to engage in barbarous acts of terror against civilians, it has also fielded an army in its attempt to establish a Caliphate, which it intends as a standing rebuke to America and a base for global Jihad. We therefore, together with our allies in Iraq and the entire region, will destroy utterly the army of the Islamic State and demonstrate for good and all the fate that will await those who seek to undo the sacrifices of American soldiers by establishing a citadel of terror from which to threaten the peace in which we would live.
Again, this will require great courage, but history provides us with great inspiration as we go to fight this enemy. Tomorrow is September 11th, which the soldiers of the Jihad celebrate as a great victory, when their treachery and their malice brought death to thousands of innocents in New York, in Pennsylvania, and here in Washington, DC. But we too can draw inspiration from another September 11th, in 1683, when the armies of the Sultan lay siege to Vienna, and they were beaten back and defeated by a Polish King. We can recall the victories at Malta in 1565, at Lepanto in 1571, and more recently at Tora Bora in 2002.
Nor shall we forget the valor of our own American sons and daughters, who on that day thirteen years ago, “more than self their country loved”; freely giving their lives in the Towers, or the fields of Pennsylvania, that others may live. We shall not forget that the character of our country was most radiantly magnified when many hundreds of firemen, disdaining the flames, went up the Towers to rescue the innocent. The New York Fire Department showed what courage is left in America.
It is my prayer and my belief that we will rise to meet this threat, in all its manifestations new and old. I am certain that the American people have within them more than sufficient valor and bravery to recover their honor, to meet this enemy with confidence ever-renewed by their faith in liberty and their love of country, and to conduct themselves with grace in victory.
It is my privilege to lead you during this time of trial, and I will seek always to keep your confidence and remain true to the oaths I have sworn to defend our Constitution and our whole way of life.
Thank you, may God bless America, and good night.