President Obama horribly underestimates ISIS. He called the Islamic State a “jayvee team” before it beheaded Americans. He claimed ISIS was "contained" before it attacked Paris. Now he allows his foreign policy/public-relations team to say ISIS lacks the capability to attack the United States before … God-knows-what.
So this column is not a defense of Obama, a wartime president elected by a public tired of war. But I would like to acknowledge that the president's options range from bad to worse and that nobody has an easy or certain response to eradicating a cult of Islamic extremists whose aim is to destroy Western civilization.
The easiest way to expose the phony binary narrative is to unpack one. I’ve chosen The Washington Post op-ed by 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Headlined, “Obama must defeat the Islamic State, not harass it,” the former Massachusetts governor writes: "After Paris, it’s clear: Doing the minimum won’t make us safe. It’s time the president stopped hedging and took meaningful steps to defend us and our allies.”
OK, so what do we do?
“We must begin by identifying the enemy.” Like many other conservatives, Romney wants Obama to use the term “radical Islamists,” because we can’t defeat an enemy we’re afraid to name. Setting aside the Bush-era reasoning behind language sensitivity, it’s silly to suggest that the ISIS could be destroyed by the universal adoption of an adjective.