‘Obama lying to public does nothing to deal with the underlying causes of ISIS & terrorism’
US President Barack Obama, speaking at a summit on countering violent extremism Wednesday, said groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL try to portray themselves as “holy warriors in defense of Islam.”Propagating the notion that the West is at “war with Islam” these extremist groups recruit new members. “We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie,” he said. “We are not at war with Islam.We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
RT:President Obama says the US is defeating terrorism, do you agree with him?
Lawrence Freeman: No, President Obama once again is lying. We are not defeating terrorism. We have now Syria that has been fighting terrorists for several years and the country has been in a war. You have Iraq being split apart. Libya, which Obama decided to carry out a regime change policy in 2011, has now collapsed into another war of ISIL terrorists. You have the spread of Boko Haram now through the entire Lake Chad Basin through Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad. We are not defeating terrorism, this is typical of Obama lying to the public and he is doing nothing to deal with the underlying causes of the support for ISIL or the underlying causes for terrorism.
RT:What should the US keep in mind if it wants to defeat terrorism?
LF: There are two fundamental things we have to deal with. One is that we have to expose those who are behind the funding and coordination and the ideology of ISIL and al-Qaeda. Now there is a growing movement in the US and in the US Congress led by Walter Jones, a congressman from North Carolina, and a former Senator from Florida Bob Graham to have [declassified] 28 pages of [the 9/11 Joint Inquiry Report]from 2002. They were to report on 9/11, on the attacks on us. There are 28 pages that lead directly to scrutinization of Saudi Arabia, the royal family and their ambassador at the time to the US for involvement in that 2001 attack. There are indications continually that the Wahabi-Salafist ideology which is supported by the Saudi kingdom is being nurtured in a key component of ISIL and al-Qaeda and also Boko Haram. So one - this Saudi connection has to be exposed and Obama has to declassify these 28 pages which a resolution in Congress is asking him to do. Number two, is we have to dry out the swamp with massive economic development. This is the case in Africa, in North Africa, in the Middle East and we should be cooperating with China, Iran, the BRICS countries for the infrastructure development projects that will begin to provide an alternative for these people to have some economic means of life and some hope for the future, so they don’t join these terrorist groups. The US refuses to involve itself in any economic development... And therefore on these two grounds alone Obama is doing nothing to actually curtail the spread of terrorism in the world today.
RT:Can military operations alone be efficient in countering terrorism?
LF: No. Everybody knows that military counter-terrorist deployment by itself will not succeed. Everybody knows it, including the Obama administration. Yet they proceed with that and they have no other alternative. I just returned from the Lake Chad Basin area and have been putting forth development policies, the Transaqua Water [project] to refurbish Lake Chad, to provide increased livelihood for the 40 million Africans who live around the Lake. These are the projects for east-west rural development. And the BRICS countries have established a new development bank to provide credit for economic development. Chinese President Xi [Jinping] has now put $10 billion into a fund and is discussing massive transcontinental development across Africa. This would also be the policy for the Middle East and Central Asia. There is no economic development from the West. It’s dead. And it’s to be dominated by a collapsing financial system which is driving this president inch by inch close to a provocation with President Putin that can lead to a nuclear war. So the military component by itself cannot work and everybody knows it.
In US ‘Muslim lives matter as much as black lives’
People in the Middle East need to know ordinary Americans don’t support the war their government is carrying out, and they hope for peace for everyone in the region, Debra Sweet, director of the anti-war organization The World Can't Wait, told RT.
RT:We've heard the words “violent extremism” many times now from Obama. What's significant about the timing of this speech?
Debra Sweet: Well, we are a month from the 12th anniversary of the most violent act in the Middle East, which was the shocking invasion and occupation by the Bush regime…which destroyed Iraq. If you go back to 1991 through now, one million Iraqis killed, 4.5 million displaced; a whole society and every system in it destroyed by this illegitimate immoral unjust war. That’s the violence we need to be talking about in this country. We need to act to stop it.
RT:Obama said there is a need to tackle violent ideologies. How could this be done?
DS: I have no doubt listening to what happened at the summit this week in Washington that the actual plan for the US authorities to tackle ideology is through political repression directed at Muslims in this country and around the world. That is the total pattern. And whatever good words are said about inequality, the US only has to look at itself and what is spreading around the world, and understand that is the actions of empire that are creating opposition. I don’t for one minute uphold what the Islamic fundamentalists are doing. They are no good. What they are bringing about is utterly dangerous for the people of that region. But let’s understand who has caused the most violence and danger. It has been the Western powers and especially the US in the last 12 years, even longer going back to Afghanistan. And across the region the US is projecting power in an unrelenting way including through unending drone strikes and secret operations across the whole region. This is causing violence. This is bringing injustice. And it would have to be ended.
RT:Obama said that the US is not at war with Islam. But at the same time, it is bombing Muslim countries. Do you think people in these countries will be convinced by Obama's rhetoric?
DS: I think since that Cairo speech in 2009, people haven’t believed very much of what the US has said. After all, if you look around the US right now, Barack Obama, Jeh Johnson and Eric Holder have not been able to protect any young black and Latino men from the police. There is an epidemic of police murder and the federal government won’t do anything to stop it. So do Muslim lives matter? Maybe about as much as black lives matter to the people that run this country. And we are protesting all of this. It’s really essential that people in this country understand the connections and reject it, and act to send a much different message to people living all across the Middle East. They need to know we don’t support the unjust war that our government is carrying out still, and that we hope for peace and most of all justice for everyone in those regions and we are willing to work and struggle for it.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.