Tags: Exclusive Interviews | Iraq | Iraq in Crisis | Steve Malzberg Show | War on Terrorism | Richard Perle | James Foley

Ex-Defense Official: Obama Weak in Response to Journalist Killing

Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 03:20 PM

Former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle says President Barack Obama's response to the execution of American journalist James Foley was "weak" and in keeping with his lackluster foreign policy.

"It was a weak statement from a weak president," Perle, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said Thursday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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He's "the most passive president in my lifetime, very careful with his rhetoric because he understands that if he says certain things, he will be obliged to act consistent with those statements.

"When you get a weak statement out of Obama, you can be sure that there is a weak policy behind it."

On Wednesday, Obama said Foley's beheading by the Islamic State terror group was something "no just god would stand for" and "no ideology of value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt."

Perle said the execution — carried out by a English-accented, hooded man who called out the president's name — was part of a terror campaign that has been building for some time.

"ISIS is more extreme than some of the other groups … We're in a new situation because ISIS, unless we're successful in stopping them, has gathered momentum," he said.

"In the world of terrorism, appearing to be the strong horse is crucial … Unless we stop ISIS, it will continue to gain adherence. As it does, it will expand both its geographic reach and its recruitment, potentially even outside the Middle East."

Perle criticized the Obama administration's warning that the United States might retaliate against IS, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), by bombing its outposts in Syria.

"You shouldn't be warning because they can disappear into the night. In fact, the problem with bombing ISIS is unless they mask their forces, they are not a very attractive target," he said.

"It's why air power is limited without some capacity on the ground. He made the statement because of the gruesome murder of an American citizen brought home to people.

"How ineffective we have been in dealing ISIS, which takes us back to the ineffectiveness of our activities in Syria. Three years ago, we might've taken some action, but we didn't. Now things are clearly out of control."

Perle, who was also the onetime chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, said there is a strategic reason the Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation into the murder of Foley.

"The administration prefers to regard acts of terror as a criminal matter because otherwise one is evoking the use of military force. If it's a criminal matter, then nothing happens until the criminal is caught," Perle said.

"It's absurd to regard the execution of an American citizen by a terrorist group as a criminal matter. The strong preference for regarding acts of terror as crimes has to do with how you deal with acts of terror.

"If you regard them as crimes, then you use the criminal justice system, you try to capture the individual. But the appropriate way to deal with a terrorist organization like ISIS is with real force, not with the U.S. Marshal or the sheriff down the street."

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