NYT Op-Ed Calls ISIS “A Militant Group” – Talk About Understatement By using this misleading definition, the writer plays down the extent of the threat

WASHINGTON – Charles M. Blow, NYT columnist, in an article, (Obama and the Warmongers, August 31, 2014), points out how America may be dragged once more into a Middle East conflict on account of the hysteria generated by ISIS, (the newest and most violent version of Islamic radicalism).

US response?

Well, intelligent people may and will differ on what should be the most appropriate US response (and that may include doing nothing at all) to this new chapter of conflict in the Region. Blow seems to be on the side of caution, although he sees that the “party of war” is gathering strength.

That said, I notice that in his piece there is very little about what ISIS (also known as ISIL and now Islamic State, or IS) has done so far, and what its leaders claim they will do.

Bad definition

In what I would call a most carefully crafted euphemism, Blow calls ISIS “a militant group President Obama described as barbaric”. The significant concession to truth is in reporting that Obama calls ISIS “barbaric”. Blow also clearly mentions the fact that ISIS beheaded James Foley, a US journalist previously kidnapped by them.

Basic facts not mentioned

Other than that, however, not a word in Blow’s piece about the mass executions of both Syrians and Iraqis, the almost daily crucifixions, the beheadings, the open persecution of religious minorities, and finally declaring itself the modern era Caliphate, coupled with  openly aired plans to kill Americans.

A “militant group”?

Sure, Blow reports that President Obama calls ISIS methods “barbaric”; and this should help set a proper context. But the problem is that Blow sets the tone at the very beginning of his article by defining ISIS a mere “militant group”. Therefore a superficially informed reader may get this picture.

“Here we go again. There is yet another small bunch of nuts in the Middle East. And these people apparently do some really crazy stuff. They just killed an American in a ghastly way. But, hey, while this is terrible, this is no reason for getting into another war over there. Let’s stay calm and think this over, before rushing in and getting ourselves into another sectarian mess we cannot control”. 

Just a few people?

While Blow’s piece may appear even-handed, it is not. He implicitly dismisses ISIS’ threat by calling it “a militant group”. The term “group” suggest a few people. Dozens, at most a few hundred members.

“Yes, they use horrible methods. But  they all  do it . Besides, it is all happening “over there”. Sure, they killed an American. This is bad. But, with all due respect, it is only one. And, after all, it is only a group. Are we going to go after all groups of bad guys around the world?”

Nothing about ISIS’ real strength

Not even a hint in his piece about other well-known facts. There are tens of thousands of ISIS fighters. This may not amount to an army, but it is a powerful, well-organized, disciplined fighting force.

Besides, while other terror groups or insurgents are engaged in surprise attacks here and there and then disappear, ISIS holds large portions of territory in Syria and Iraq. It controls large cities like Mosul, (664,000 inhabitants). Now the leaders renamed the territory they control the “Islamic State”. ISIS  has modern weapons and lots of cash.


Given all this, calling ISIS a “militant group” is rather disingenuous. This toned down definition is aimed at minimizing and obfuscating the extent of a real threat to the Region and to the West represented by a very large number of politically organized Islamic radicals who openly claim to be at war with all non believers.

They are there. They have a state. Worst of all, this Caliphate will become a magnet for many other misguided Islamic radicals from all over the world who will want to join this jihad.

At least let’s define the threat properly

If ISIS is only “a militant group”, then Adolf Hitler was a conservative politicians, Vladimir Lenin was a leftist political organizer, Pol Pot an agrarian reformer, and the Ku Klux Klan was a social club created to uphold cherished American traditions.

As indicated above, reasonable people may differ on what should be done about ISIS.

But at least we should be able to agree on this: we are dealing with something a lot more dangerous than yet another “militant group”.

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