Declaring that ISIS “cannot live on hate alone,” Secretary of State John Kerry declared today that stopping the terror group includes choking off the fertile recruitment grounds of “people who are gullible enough to believe that terrorists enjoy a glamorous lifestyle and pliable enough to do whatever they are told.”
“Last year, two young men left Great Britain to join ISIL. Among the books that they ordered before departing was Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies,” Kerry said in keynote remarks today at the Transformational Trends Strategic Forum. “So, let’s be honest: Those recruiting for ISIL aren’t looking for people who are devout and knowledgeable about the tenets of Islam.”
“ISIL insists that its acts of murder, torture, slavery, rape and desecration are in response to the commands of God, a claim that is, to use an old Boston expression, garbage,” he said. “Much depends on the ability of respected figures from every branch of Islam to help potential recruits understand that ISIL is against everything that faith teaches and in favor of everything that it abhors.”
Kerry stressed at the beginning of his talk, though, that “every part of the globe merits our attention.”
“And I’m not exaggerating. I will assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council next April and we’re already planning a two-year stint of the priorities for the Arctic and that includes, I might add, priorities that extend to the Antarctic,” he said.
He called the Middle East and North Africa “the region that I know a lot of Americans wish was out of the headlines.”
“You all remember that great moment in A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup, besieged by tough questions, snaps, ‘You can’t handle the truth.’ Well, it might be heresy in today’s Washington of simple story lines and hyperbolic headlines, but I think the American people do want the truth. I think they demand it and I think they deserve it,” Kerry said.
“So, when it comes to the Middle East, this is my view of reality. A truth, if you want. We have to be deeply engaged — deeply engaged in this region because it is directly in the interest of our national security and our economy, and it is also in keeping with who we are.”
Kerry lamented that the Obama administration “has been faulted for not having the perfect answer to every question related to the coalition’s campaign” against ISIS.
“Fair enough. But as a student of history, I cannot recall the United States entering into any major confrontation with advanced knowledge of all the possibilities,” he said.
“ISIL’s leaders assumed that the world would be too intimidated to oppose them. Well, let us be clear — we are not intimidated. You are not intimidated. Our friends and partners are not intimidated. ISIL is very, very wrong.”