An angry President Obama on Tuesday lashed out at Republicans, and particularly Donald Trump, who have called him soft on terrorism, warning that “loose talk” about Muslims has harmed the United States’ campaign against militant groups in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Obama challenged the demand by his critics that he characterize acts of terrorism, including the mass shooting in Orlando, as the work of “radical Islam” — a phrase the president has refused to use because he believes it is extremely offensive to Muslims in America.
A day earlier, Trump used the phrase to question Obama’s commitment to stopping terrorist acts, including the Orlando shooting, by saying the president refuses to define the enemy.
“That’s the key, they tell us. We can’t get ISIS unless we call them ‘radical Islamists,’ ” Obama said, referring to the Islamic State militant group after meeting with his National Security Council at the Treasury Department to discuss the administration’s counterterrorism strategy. “What exactly would using this label accomplish? What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to trying to kill Americans? Would it bring in more allies? Is there a military strategy that is served by this? The answer is, none of the above. Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.”
The president added: “There’s no magic to the phrase, ‘radical Islam.’ It’s a political talking point; it’s not a strategy.”