National Security adviser Susan Rice says that the fight with Islamic State terrorists is not part of a civilizational struggle, echoing a sentiment promoted by President Obama.
During a speech to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Rice insisted that although ISIS was a “destabilizing force” in the Middle East, it was nowhere near the level of the threat posed by past enemies of the United States.
“We have faced down and defeated much greater adversaries,” she said. “ISIL is not Nazi Germany. It is not the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. This is not World War III or the much-hyped clash of civilizations.”
Rice criticized those who portrayed the fight as one against radical Islamic terrorism and the Muslim religion.
“We alienate our Muslim friends and allies — and dishonor the countless Muslim victims of ISIL’s brutality — when people recklessly and wrongly cast ISIL as somehow representative of one of the world’s largest religions,” she said.
Rice promoted Obama’s strategy to destroy ISIS, pointing out that coalition forces had launched 11,500 air strikes and flown nearly 90,000 sorties in the ongoing struggle against the terrorist organization. She also highlighted the amount of drone activity that occurred under the Obama administration.
“From Nevada to Qatar, roughly 11,000 airmen are dedicated solely to piloting and supporting Predator and Reaper drones,” she said.
“I know not everybody grew up dreaming of piloting a drone,” she said to the cadets, pointing out that remotely piloted aircraft had conducted more airstrikes than any other aircraft but the B-1 and F-15.
She added that drones had become a new reality not only on the battlefield, but in Hollywood.
“Drone warfare is even finding its way into the upcoming Top Gun sequel,” she said.
But Rice also told cadets that the fight against ISIS had become a “battle for hearts and minds,” citing Obama’s believe that ideologies were “not defeated with guns” but with “better ideas.” Part of the effort, she explained, was an effort to define the true nature of Islam.
“We’re working hard to expose ISIL’s twisted interpretation of Islam and underscore that ISIL is not defending Muslims; they are killing many innocent Muslims,” she said.