In an oblique reference to Pope Francis, President Obama blasted those who refer to “World War III” when speaking of the state of the terror in the world today, calling such claims “over the top.”
Pope Francis was the first public figure to state that humanity is engaged in World War III being fought “piecemeal” throughout the globe, a claim he has repeated on numerous occasions, and as recently as this past Monday.
In September 2014, commemorating World War I in a visit to Italy’s largest military cemetery, the Pope said that even today, “after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction.”
The President suggested that such pronouncements are counterproductive and play into the hands of our enemies.
In the final State of the Union address of his presidency, Obama said that “as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.”
The President went on to downplay the threat that the Islamic State poses to the world, cautioning against fear and an overestimation of ISIS’s strength.
“That’s the story ISIL wants to tell,” Obama said, “that’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world’s largest religions.”
As he has done on other occasions, Obama minimized the danger presented by the jihadists, suggesting that America is already winning the war.
The President said that for more than a year, America has led a coalition “to cut off ISIL’s financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out their vicious ideology.”
He went on to proudly announce that “we are taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, and their weapons.”
Obama’s claims Tuesday sounded eerily similar to remarks he made last November 13 on “Good Morning America.” Just hours before the Islamic State’s multiple coordinated attacks on Paris that killed 130 people, Obama had said that the United States had succeeded in containing ISIS.
“I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” Obama he said. “What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them.”
In a bizarre twist, after criticizing the Pope’s thinking about the world situation, Obama quoted him in his State of the Union address, attempting to coopt the Pontiff for his own purposes.
Defending his uneasiness with speaking of radical Islam for which he has been amply criticized, Obama said that “we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion.”
Pope Francis, the President continued, “told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that ‘to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.’”
Yet to deny the existence of “tyrants and murderers” or to downplay the threat they pose to the free world, is to let them wreak their atrocities unopposed.
World War III, anyone?
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome