Outrage over the shocking murder of American journalist James Foley, broadcast on Youtube by terrorist militia ISIL, continued to build Wednesday, and found a voice in our nation’s Commander-in-Chief. President Obama took to the podium at Martha’s Vineyard this afternoon to condemn the horrific killing, and promised to “do what is necessary to see that justice is done.”
With a withering gaze, the President described how Foley’s life stood “in stark contrast to his killers.”
“They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence,” Obama continued. “They abduct women and children, subjecting them to torture and rape, killing Sunni and Shia by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declare their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people. So ISIL speaks for no religion. No just god would stand for what they did yesterday, and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value for human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt.”
President Obama promised that the U.S. “will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what is necessary to see that justice is done, and we act against ISIL standing alongside others.”
He called on partners in the region to engage in a “common effort to extract this cancer so that it does not spread.”
As the President said, he also spoke with James Foley’s parents, who, shortly before Obama’s remarks, held a tearful press conference of their own, at which they begged mercy for Steven Sotloff, who has also been threatened with execution by ISIL. They talked about his life, and how his brothers in the military influenced him to become a war correspondent.
“Jim was just innocent, and they knew it. They knew that Jim was just a symbol for our country. It’s that hatred that Jim was against. Jim was there to hear the truth and bear witness to the love and suffering, the hopes of the people to be free, like we are. And they knew that.”
Since the release of the video, U.S. airstrikes have continued, and based on President Obama’s remarks today, will continue for the foreseeable future. Eventually, Congress may have a role in approving further action, but they’d be even more hard-pressed than they already were to restrain the President. If the President’s “Don’t do stupid shit” foreign policy mantra wasn’t to some people’s liking, his new one ought to be “Some people need to get got.”
Here’s the full transcript of President Obama’s statement, via email from The White House:
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
The Edgartown School
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
12:52 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL.
Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away. He was taken hostage nearly two years ago in Syria, and he was courageously reporting at the time on the conflict there.
Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world. He was 40 years old — one of five siblings, the son of a mom and dad who worked tirelessly for his release. Earlier today, I spoke to the Foleys and told them that we are all heartbroken at their loss, and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.
Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers. Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages — killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children, and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims — both Sunni and Shia — by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people.
So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision, and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.
And people like this ultimately fail. They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley, and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.
The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done. And we act against ISIL, standing alongside others.
The people of Iraq, who with our support are taking the fight to ISIL, must continue coming together to expel these terrorists from their communities. The people of Syria, whose story Jim Foley told, do not deserve to live under the shadow of a tyrant or terrorists. They have our support in their pursuit of a future rooted in dignity.
From governments and peoples across the Middle East there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer, so that it does not spread. There has to be a clear rejection of these kind of nihilistic ideologies. One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.
Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security and a common set of values that are rooted in the opposite of what we saw yesterday. And we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism, and replace it with a sense of hope and civility. And that’s what Jim Foley stood for, a man who lived his work; who courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings; who was liked and loved by friends and family.
Today, the American people will all say a prayer for those who loved Jim. All of us feel the ache of his absence. All of us mourn his loss. We keep in our prayers those other Americans who are separated from their families. We will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for.
May God bless and keep Jim’s memory, and may God bless the United States of America.