David Remnick’s New Yorker profile of Barack Obama’s fifth year in office, published Sunday morning, includes a lengthy section on foreign policy, during which Remnick asked Obama to square his claim that al Qaeda had been “decimated” with the al Qaeda flag currently flying over Falluja, one of the cities the U.S. struggled to capture from insurgents in the Iraq War.
“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, in what Remnick himself termed “an uncharacteristically flip analogy.” Obama elaborated:
“I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.
“Let’s just keep in mind, Falluja is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.”
[h/t New Yorker]
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