Somewhere in an alternate universe, White House speechwriters prepared this address for President Obama to deliver to the nation on the Islamic State, also called ISIS. I have no intention of explaining how this document that I now offer to the public fell into my hands — although I note some similarity to the words of Ronald Reagan and Liam Neeson.
My fellow Americans:
At 7 o’clock this evening, Eastern Time, air and naval forces of the United States launched a series of strikes against the terrorist facilities and military assets that support the Islamic State. The attacks were concentrated and carefully targeted to minimize casualties among the Iraqi and Syrian people with whom we have no quarrel. From initial reports, our forces have succeeded in their mission.
ISIS is not only an enemy of the United States. Their record of subversion and aggression against innocent people is well-documented and well-known. They have wantonly and indiscriminately raped, murdered and pillaged. They have committed acts of terrorism in Iraq with a shocking degree of bloodthirstiness.
Today, we have done what we had to do. As necessary, we shall do it again. It gives me no pleasure to say that, and I wish it were otherwise. The people of Iraq are friends of the United States.
I’m sure that most Muslims are ashamed and disgusted that groups such as ISIS have made Islamic jihad a synonym for barbarism around the world. Most Muslim believers are decent people caught in the grip of tyrannical fundamentalists with a history reaching back to the days when Thomas Jefferson sent U.S. Marines to the shores of Tripoli to deal with the Barbary pirates.
Back then, the Tripoli ambassador told Jefferson that, according to the Koran, “all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave.” From the earliest days of our national history, we have boldly confronted the double threat of tyranny and state-sponsored religion. We were not fooled then, and we are not fooled now.
The Tripoli ambassador told Thomas Jefferson that, according to the Koran, “all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave.”
We Americans are slow to anger. We always seek peaceful avenues before resorting to the use of force — and we did. We have tried quiet diplomacy, public condemnation, economic sanctions and demonstrations of military force. None succeeded. Despite our repeated warnings, ISIS has continued its grotesque acts of savagery, intimidation and relentless pursuit of terror.
Finally, I also have a message for those members of the Islamic State directly involved in the kidnapping and beheading of our citizens, James Foley and Steven Sotloff. At this point, I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you expect to accomplish. If you are looking for the United States to abandon its resolve, I can tell you we don’t have that in our nature.
What we do have is a very particular set of skills, skills we have acquired over a very long history of leading in world affairs. Skills that make us a nightmare for people like you. We will look for you, we will find you, and we will kill you. And we will accord the same treatment for your accomplices and your affiliates.
ISIS has made the first of several fatal miscalculations. They counted on America to be passive. They counted wrong.
I am proud to be the commander in chief of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are risking their lives to help ensure our safety. They and the men and women of our Foreign Service and intelligence community continue to serve with distinction. They have my gratitude and, I’m sure, the gratitude of all Americans.
We are sending a message to terrorists everywhere. The message: You can run, but you can’t hide.
I warned that there should be no place on Earth where terrorists can rest and train and practice their deadly skills. I meant it. I said that we would act with others if possible, and alone if necessary, to ensure that terrorists have no sanctuary anywhere. Tonight, we have.
Thank you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
First published on Townhall in September 2014