From President Obama's June 14 remarks about the Orlando terror attack:
BARACK OBAMA: And let me make a final point. For a while now, the main contribution of some of my friends on the other side of the aisle have made in the fight against ISIL is to criticize this administration and me for not using the phrase radical Islam. That's the key, they tell us. We can't beat ISIL unless we call them radical Islamists. What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.
Since before I was president, I've been clear about how extremist groups have perverted Islam to justify terrorism. As president, I have repeatedly called on our Muslim friends and allies at home and around the world to work with us to reject this twisted interpretation of one of the world's great religions. There's not been a moment in my seven and a half years as president where we have not been able to pursue a strategy because we didn't use the label radical Islam. Not once has an advisor of mine said, man, if we really use that phrase, we're going to turn this whole thing around. Not once.
So someone seriously thinks that we don't know who we're fighting? If there's anyone out there who thinks we're confused about who our enemies are, that would come as a surprise to the thousands of terrorists who we've taken off the battlefield. If the implication is that those of us up here and the thousands of people around the country and around the world who are working to defeat ISIL aren't taking the fight seriously, that would come as a surprise to those whove spent these last 7.5 years dismantling al-Qaeda in the FATA for example. Including the men and women in uniform who put their lives at risk and the special forces that I ordered to get bin Laden and are now on the ground in Iraq and in Syria. They know full well who the enemy is. So do the intelligence and law enforcement officers who spent countless hours disrupting plots and protecting all Americans, including politicians who tweet and appear on cable news shows. They know who the nature of the enemy is.
So there's no magic to the phrase radical Islam. It's a political talking point. It's not a strategy. And the reason I am careful about how I describe this threat has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with actually defeating extremism. Groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda want to make this war a war between Islam and America or between Islam and the west. They want to claim that they are the true leaders of over a billion Muslims around the world who reject their crazy notions. They want us to validate them by implying that they speak for those billion plus people. That they speak for Islam. That's their propaganda. That's how they recruit. And if we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush and imply that we are at war with an entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists' work for them.