The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has publicly taken issue with President Barack Obama’s remarkable and mistaken assertion yesterday that terrible ideologies are defeated by better ideas, not armies.
In address delivered yesterday at the Pentagon, in the presence of top military commanders, President Obama said, “In order for us to defeat terrorist groups like ISIL and al Qaeda it’s going to also require us to discredit their ideology –– the twisted thinking that draws vulnerable people into their ranks. As I’ve said before –– and I know our military leaders agree –– this broader challenge of countering violent extremism is not simply a military effort. Ideologies are not defeated with guns; they’re defeated by better ideas –– a more attractive and more compelling vision” (‘Remarks by the President on Progress in the Fight Against ISIL,’ July 6, 2015).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is an extraordinary statement for the U.S. President and Commander-in-Chief of the world’s largest and most sophisticated armed forces, in the midst of a war with an unbelievably vicious and brutal enemy, to say in the presence of his military commanders who are supervising life-and-death decisions in the field on a daily basis, that ‘ideologies are not defeated with guns; they’re defeated by better ideas.’
“Really? How was Nazism ended? Because we persuaded Germans that it was a bad idea and that freedom and democracy were superior, or because we mobilized millions of Americans to fight and defeat them on land, sea and in the air?
“How was slavery ended in this country? Because we talked plantation owners out of using people as property, or because we defeated them in a bitter war?
“This is not a matter of discounting or misunderstanding the importance of ideas. It goes without saying that one must have something to fight for, not merely against. If there weren’t competing ideas of freedom and human dignity, the slave-owners could not have been defeated, the Nazis would not have been defeated.
“Americans do not lack better ideas and values. But ideas and values must be backed with overwhelming force to succeed, because we cannot persuade vicious radical Muslim terrorists to change their ways. We must defeat them.
“That is why what President Obama said is so alarming, ahistorical and shallow. Until and unless President Obama commits U.S. forces in whatever strength necessary to defeat the ISIS, it will continue to slaughter and destabilize across the Middle East.”
“Instead, President Obama is making a nonsensical argument about the relative unimportance of military force in this conflict in order to rationalize not acting with decisive military force to defeat ISIS.”