Obama Uses The Dark Knight To Describe Middle East: ‘ISIL Is The Joker’

Residents and activists hold a giant a pre-Baath Syrian flag, now used by the Syrian opposition, during an anti-regime protest in the rubble of destroyed buildings in the neighbourhood of Jobar, on the eastern outskirts of the capital Damascus, on March 3, 2016. / AFP / AMER ALMOHIBANY
Amer Almohibanly/AFP/Getty Images

The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg continues his project to define President Obama’s foreign policy legacy, the latest dispatch featuring a curious use of the movie the Dark Knight to describe the chaos in the Middle East.

Citing advisors, Goldberg reveals Obama describing the scene of the movie where all the crime lords had met to strengthen their hold on the city.

“These are men who had the city divided up. They were thugs, but there was a kind of order. Everyone had his turf,” Obama explained. “And then the Joker comes in and lights the whole city on fire. ISIL is the Joker. It has the capacity to set the whole region on fire. That’s why we have to fight it.”

At another point in the article, Obama tries and fails to describe ISIS in human terms.

A group like ISIL is the distillation of every worst impulse along these lines. The notion that we are a small group that defines ourselves primarily by the degree to which we can kill others who are not like us, and attempting to impose a rigid orthodoxy that produces nothing, that celebrates nothing, that really is contrary to every bit of human progress—it indicates the degree to which that kind of mentality can still take root and gain adherents in the 21st century.

When asked why Obama doesn’t send in everything to destroy ISIS, he signaled caution about that strategy.

“There are going to be times where either because it’s not a direct threat to us or because we just don’t have the tools in our toolkit to have a huge impact that, tragically, we have to refrain from jumping in with both feet,” he said.