It Depends on What the Meaning of IS is

Ken Blackwell is Senior Fellow, Family Empowerment, and Robert Morrison is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared in American Thinker on September 13, 2014.

Stet is that proofreader's mark that means "keep it that way." We say keep it ISIS. President Obama was at pains on Wednesday night to reassure the world that ISIS is not Islamic. As National Review's Jonah Goldberg put it, they sure aren't Lutheran or Buddhist. The president will find it hard to rally the troops for a necessary response to terrorism when he cannot name the target.

So, what is IS? Doubtless, it depends on what your definition of IS is. Where's that seasoned statesman Bill Clinton when you need him?

Mr. Obama's confusion on this point is of a piece with his entire administration's kid glove approach to the threat of international jihad. His CIA chief, John Brennan, refuses even to say the word "jihad" in the terror context because he said it was a legitimate tenet of a religion. If that is so, then that statement is pretty damning.

ISIS first called itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Then, it metamorphosed into ISIL ---Islamic State of the Levant. Now, what was that? Well, the Levant is a loosely-defined term for the entire region, including on some maps Turkey and Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. ISIL would also embrace Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and, of course, all of Israel. Not satisfied with ISIL, this cutthroat gang quickly molted and emerged as IS -- the Islamic State.

ISIS will do for us -- Islamist Savagery Inspired by Satan. If cutting off heads and putting the videos on the Internet is not savagery and if such cruelty is not of Satan, then savagery and Satan do not exist.

President Obama is locked in a Westphalian mindset. That seminal 1648 Treaty of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War in Europe and gave us the nation-state system we see today. Or most of it. What ISIS shows, however, is that the Westphalian definitions really don't apply in the Mideast. It was an Egyptian diplomat who famously said: "There is only one nation over here; the rest are tribes with flags."

Fortunately, President Obama realizes that you cannot give credence to a border between Iraq and Syria. He says he will hammer ISIS in Syria. Go to it. (Unfortunately, this president seems not to recognize a border between the Mexico and the U.S., either.)

President Obama should have our support in going after ISIS. But we should not overlook the greater threat: IRAN. Everything ISIS has been doing, the Mullahs in Tehran did first.

The Mullahs introduced suicide bombing into the Muslim world in 1983. They used Hizb'allah to murder 241 U.S. Marines and Navy corpsmen in their bunks in Beirut. Many of these Americans were perforce beheaded by the force of that explosion. That was an act of war.

The Mullahs have attacked the U.S. directly. They kidnapped, tortured, and subjected to mock execute 52 Americans for 444 days. They seized and hold to this day our U.S. embassy in Tehran. These are acts of war.

The Mullahs have plotted a suicide bombing in Georgetown, in the District of Columbia.

The Mullahs murder children, as ISIS does. They sent thousands of little boys into Saddam Hussein's minefields during the Iran-Iraq war. These lads had pathetic plastic keys around their necks, the keys to Paradise, these innocents were told. Any paradise so entered would be hell to the rest of humanity.

In August 1939, Albert Einstein's letter about the possibility of Hitler developing an atomic bomb was hand-delivered to President Roosevelt in the White House. The president instantly moved upon this information. "Pa," he said to General Watson, his military aide, "this requires action."

President Roosevelt set in motion with those four words the largest scientific effort in world history to that point, the Manhattan Project. It produced six years later the first atomic weapons.

December 7, 1941 was a "day which will live in infamy" in FDR's immortal words. President Roosevelt rallied a stricken nation to declare war on and defeat Japanese imperialism. But Roosevelt never forgot the greater danger.