Our Opinion: Realism bests tough chatter on ISIS threat


When people feel powerless, they may want their leaders to put on a show demonstrating power. This is not something President Obama is comfortable with doing.

The president's approach for seven years has been a calm, reasoned one devoid of theatrics and empty statements. This was on display Monday in an interview with Steve Inskeep, host of NPR's Morning Edition, that touched on a variety of subjects but focused on the White House's policies on ISIS.

Confronting ISIS terrorists militarily in areas where there are no battlegrounds, no distinctively clad armies, where allegiances and animosities are complex and shifting and where combatants mix in with civilians is complex, maddeningly so. That makes strategies like the "carpet-bombing" approach of Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz meaningless at best, dangerous at worse. It would involve killing thousands of innocents, which as the president said, "is not who we are."

The president's approach is for the long haul, which frustrates the impatient. It does, however, mean no American troops lost on foreign soil and no needless backlash against the United States.

Mr. Obama again noted that ISIS does not pose an "existential threat" to the U.S., adding that acts of domestic terrorism have killed as many Americans as acts of foreign terrorism (48 to 45 according to The New America Foundation) since 9/11. He might have noted that those figures are a tiny fraction of the roughly 12,000 Americans killed by guns in 2014 alone, an issue that doesn't come up at Republican presidential debates.

ISIS strategies aside, America's greatest enemy in terms of cruel deaths is here at home.


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