Don't let ISIS goad U.S. into premature action
September 6th, 2014
10:41 PM ET

Don't let ISIS goad U.S. into premature action

CNN speaks with Fareed about the decision of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to authorize Iran’s military to cooperate with Iraq and the Kurds and the United States to try to defeat ISIS. This is an edited version of the transcript.

When you hear that the ayatollah is saying this now, how significant is this?

That's the most significant of all of this, that the ayatollah – the supreme leader of Iran – would say it.

It suggests a couple things. One, that they are very worried about ISIS. Two, that their attitudes towards the United States are softening. Perhaps most importantly, Iran is very pragmatic. It's very practical. We always think of them as these kind of mystical revolutionaries because they wear turbans and have big beards. But the funny thing is this foreign policy of the Iranian regime has been very, very pragmatic. Their goal is to defend Iran, its interests, they'll ally with whom they need to. They'll oppose whomever they need to.

In Afghanistan, people forget, right after 9/11 when we toppled the Taliban, Iran cooperated with the United States. Here again, what they're saying is, look, we have the same interests and the same common enemy. We'll work with you guys. In an odd way, we have more trouble than the Iranians do.

People working together – it's interesting you bring up 9/11. We've all read your piece in the Washington Post, on why they still hate us 13 years later and on what you wrote then and your observations in the 13 years since. What is your biggest take-away?

My biggest take-away, the biggest mistake I made or the thing I didn't see, was these countries are really fragile. So you talk about bringing democracy or getting rid of a bad guy. And you get rid of the dictator – Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq. But what ends up being true, there’s nothing beneath it. Those guys have made sure in a sense there’s no civil society. In some cases, there isn’t even a nation.

What we're seeing in places like Iraq, like Syria, like Libya, when the order goes away, people don't think of themselves anymore as Libyans or Iraqis. They think of themselves as Sunnis, as Shia. They reach back for an older identity, not the national identity.

And remember, many of these countries were created only 100 years ago, by the British and French. So I think that I didn't recognize just how fragile these places were. And, of course, we're living with that reality. If you look at what's happened and why ISIS has risen, it's mainly because there was a power vacuum. There was chaos. There were these badlands, and into these badlands stepped ISIS.

But what seems so different with ISIS, you have all these other terrorist organizations, but with this case specifically, a lot of people seem to demonize the enemy. ISIS itself is saying, yes, we are evil. It's like they're self-demonizing. So just what do you think of that observation, A. And B, given that, how do you see this heading, their group?

It's a very important point – how do you want to deal with somebody like that? I do worry that we are playing into their game.

How do you mean?

Osama bin Laden said something in one of his old videotapes. He said, you know, our strategy has to be we wave the flag of jihad and call it al Qaeda anywhere in the world, and that will get the American generals to come running to fight us. In other words, a lot of this is bait.

Bring it on, they're saying.

I hate to say this. But the gruesome execution videos, all of this stuff is designed to first of all make them important. Now everybody is talking about ISIS – they’ve become huge figures. But also to goad us into a fight. To get us in a situation where we go into Syria and we go into Iraq, we get trapped. And I think we've got to be careful. Of course, you have to respond. But let's make sure that the United States does this in a manner of its choosing at a time of its choosing, when the United States has the proper intelligence and capacity. Just the fact that they keep saying, come on, come on, let's have a fight doesn't mean we have to agree to that.

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Topics: Terrorism

soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Johnny the Greek

    Those muslims know the American war mongers very well. Fareed is right. US war mongers would like nothing better than more bombs falling somewhere, anywhere, as long as they keep falling. When the bombs stop falling, that's when the war mongers get nervous. Because that's when their profits dwindle.

    September 6, 2014 at 11:15 pm |
    • j. von hettlingen

      To be hawkish is one thing, not to be seen as a coward is another! Indeed the videos showing the barbaric acts – beheading of their hostages – aim to goad the US into a fight. These monsters know that if Obama dithers, he will be criticised by the hawks. George W Bush would have immediately put boots on the ground. But Obama is cautious.

      September 17, 2014 at 9:54 am |
    • Rudy

      Iranian government is very sneaky, the iranian mullahs want US military to fight ISIS for them, we don't want to be doing Iranian dirty work. Let Iranian fight ISIS instead and let them bleed fighting ISIS.
      Not long ago Iranian supplied lethal IEDs to Iraqis insurgents that killed many US soldiers in Iraq war and Afgan War.
      If we have to fight ISIS, just limit fighting ISIS in Iraq and let the Iranian mullahs fight ISIS in Iran and Syria.

      September 18, 2014 at 4:08 pm |
  2. PizzaProphet

    Zakaria is as always dilusional. The threat is real this time. Zakaria being a muzzi – has always had a soft corner for islamists

    September 6, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
  3. PizzaProphet

    So essentially what Zakaria is saying – ' let's wait and watch, if the cancer spreads all over the body, then we will start the treatment'

    Somebody at CNN stop this guy from writing pro muzzi articles, he is getting senile with age already – his pro islamist bend is pathetically obvious to the extent he bends facts , seriously CNN – stop this guy from writing any articles, just put him in some reporting and ban him from adding his 2 cents

    September 6, 2014 at 11:49 pm |
    • LaBella

      🎶All we are saying
      Is give pizza chance

      September 7, 2014 at 10:57 am |
  4. Thanks Fareed, you are awesome!

    America = out of control 800 lb Gorilla.......... Ha! Ha! Ha!.......... and it's a purdy dumb gorilla at that......... swatting mozzies in the desert, while Asia laughs all the way to the bank........... boink! boink! boink!............ gotta get those mozzies............. boink! boink! boink!........ oooops, run outta cash, never mind that............... boink! boink! boink!............. oh crap, have no jobs, never mind that............ boink! boink! boink!............ oh dear! half our country lives in poverty, never mind that............ boink! boink! boink!.......... sheeesh! half our people are divorced and on drugs, never mind that............ boink! boink! boink!.......... Yes Sir! gotta keep those war mongers rich rich rich.......... boink! boink! boink!........ how sad to see America sunk to this garbage level..............

    September 6, 2014 at 11:54 pm |
  5. ESK

    Somebody please help me understand why the creation of ISIS and thier establishment of a pre-caliphate in the middle of the desert is not the best thing that could happen in our war on terror? Why not let all the jihadis gather together in some remote location, then when we see that there is a critical mass to our liking, just bomb away? Furthermore, if we now think that ISIS must be dismantled and destroyed, why is it taking so long to locate and bomb the heck out of them? Can't our intelligence and satellites pinpoint their locaiton? Are they that darn stealth?

    September 7, 2014 at 7:00 am |
  6. HMWags

    Decisions based in emotion create mental impotence. I concur with what Fareed pointed out, "Now everybody is talking about ISIS – they’ve become huge figures. But also to goad us into a fight. To get us in a situation where we go into Syria and we go into Iraq, we get trapped."

    It is like watching a bully bask in the glow (any attention is good attention...right??) of everyone in the hallway talking about what an insane animal they are. This IS exactly what they want. Feel afraid, then get mad, then come over hear and throw a punch. America needs to let go of a Hollywood ending: we go over there and throw and open a can of whoop-ass, finishing with a shot of the American flag slowly waving and the song "I'm Proud to Be An American" playing in the background.

    We need a clever, thoughtful, long term approach to this festering mess. Not another raging bully.

    September 7, 2014 at 7:51 am |
    • ESK

      HMWags, yes a long-term, nuanced approach to Islamic fundamentalist's hopes and desires ...and all the disaffected people living within the artificial borders created in the middle east; may be required. But ISIS is really not festering. There are only pure outcasts and true nutjobs seeking to join this group. Much of the main stream middle east is mocking them. So let's just get rid of them (or at least their core) as expeditiously as possible. We can easily solve the problem of ISIS ...we may not so easily solve the problem of "Islamic fundamentalist's hopes and desires ...and all the disaffected people living within the artificial borders created in the middle east". Besides, that is not a problem that the US has any chance of getting traction on at this point in time.
      Sometimes the solution can be simple. No need to overthink it. BTW, Bush (W) wasn't a raging bully; he was an idiot.

      September 7, 2014 at 9:54 am |
  7. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    My once-strong and formerly productive USA has been brainwashed into weakness and expectant dependency.

    September 7, 2014 at 8:11 am |
    • LaBella

      Your formerly productive USA sold out their production to the lowest bidder. The former producers aren't the owners of those companies. It was the employees. If you can't see this, it's most likely because you kept your job.

      September 7, 2014 at 10:55 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        If the inventors of products and company owners didn't produce anything, and if the employees produced what we don't produce now, the solution is simple: let the forsaken employees start new ventures and produce without the handicap of "pencil pushers."

        September 7, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
      • LaBella

        Joey, surely you do understand that in order for people to purchase goods and services from those new ventures, they must have money? Your position is untenable in today's real USA.

        If someone creates a job that wasn't there, they should be known as a Job Creator. HOWEVER:

        If someone fires a bunch of people, or moves jobs oversees, they should be called Job Destroyers.

        If someone decides to keep good, quality jobs in America, with benefits and fair wages, they should be called Job Protectors.

        But, if they use the threat of job loss, in order to keep wages down, and/or have very little benefits, they should be known as Job Exploiters.

        Which category do you fall in?

        September 7, 2014 at 8:39 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        My position is "untenable in today's real USA?"
        I am trying to alter the thinking in today"s brainwashed USA.
        A job creator is a person who makes salable work for himself.

        September 8, 2014 at 5:21 am |
      • LaBella

        Of course you do, sweetie. Of course you do. For something to be salable, someone else has to have the money to purchase it. See how that works?

        September 8, 2014 at 8:09 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Wrong, Joey. This country has been brainwashed into jumping into all these senseless wars just to make a profit!

      September 7, 2014 at 4:27 pm |
      • Philip

        Lmao. JIF troll says "Wrong, Joey". Lmao
        This country has been drugged just as pre-WWII Germany was. Get that straight or debate. Your choice.

        September 7, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
      • LaBella

        Do you have something to say that specifically addresses other people's posts or do you just program your bot to a standardized response that has nothing to do with what is written but just blurts out one of your tirades against whatever windmill you're tilting?

        September 7, 2014 at 8:44 pm |
  8. truthseeker

    Its so easy for the talking heads (Wall Street Journal etc....) to play the role of experts using their usual 20-20 hind-site.
    A month ago, did they know ANYTHING about the extent so which ISIS was organized and armed. Did they know the extent to which the Arab countries would try to sit back and let American soldiers & funds (and possibly other UN fighters) take care of the problem for them.

    It takes the kindergarten mentality of the media talking heads (both hosts and guests) to try and second guess why the President and the members of his cabinet make the decisions that they do. They are not only responsible for the lives of their people at home, the soldiers that they send in harms way, the innocent people on the ground that are impacted by any military action, and so much more. What are the big mouths in the media responsible for ? BIG FAT NOTHING ! They can barely present the TRUTH because they don't know what it is.

    By the way, who created the Taliban (and their most infamous member, Bin Laden)? Is it not the senior Bush? Where is ISIS being cleaved out of, is it not Alkaida and the Taliban ?

    The government is taking the marathon approach and the blabber mouths are not even trying to sprint, they are barely hopping with no direction.

    September 7, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
    • Philip

      Seek the truth @truthseeker. "ISIS/ISIL" are Muslim Brotherhood backed by US in failed takeover attempts of Egypt and then Syria. (Now regrouping in Iraq with the same two videos of US missiles taking-out 2 single vehicles over and over again on nationwide TV)
      Keep in mind that "Boko Haram" is a covert CIA operation, and Bengazi Libya Embassy was an inside job with CIA ordering defenders to stand-down just as NORAD was on 9/11.

      September 7, 2014 at 8:32 pm |
      • Philip

        Let's pay Israel to drop 2000# bombs on "ISIL" in the desert rather than US dropping 500# bombs on two vehicles and spend mindless hours watching same two vids over and over again on propaganda TV. And Israel IDF bombing cramped neighborhoods.
        It would be like trading the lives of terrorists for the lives of Palestinian children and old widows.

        September 7, 2014 at 8:38 pm |
  9. Mike

    Obama wanted to get help from the Iran regime to fight against the ISIS?!!
    This way OBAma is giving right to the Iran regime to occupy the Iraq. He already gave control of Syria to the Iran regime!
    The Iran regime ideology and action is the same as ISIS but it's shia and ISIS is sunni..

    September 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Would the Iranian occupation of Iraq be any worse than our occupation of that country? Somehow, I don't think so as we never has any right to be there in the first place!

      September 7, 2014 at 4:25 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        @ My Troll,
        I certainly would not write what you wrote.

        September 7, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
      • Philip

        JIF troll said "we never has any right". Lmao. That narrows it down to the deep south, or upper state Michigan. 🙂

        September 7, 2014 at 8:20 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Wromg, @ My Troll.
      Money allocated for national defense would not necessarily fin the pockets of the poor if there were no wars.

      September 7, 2014 at 7:39 pm |
  10. Mike

    The terrorist 'Badre" and "Ghods" army belong to the Iran regime cut of the head of ISIS too.
    This group exploded a lot roadside bombs and killed many USA soldiers.
    This terrorist groups also sent the weapon and rockets to the Hamas.
    The USA wanted to worked with them!?!!

    September 7, 2014 at 3:33 pm |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Why don't we just butt out and let Australia, Great Britain, France, Germany and the other five take on the ISIS in our place? It sure sounds good to me!

    September 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ My Troll,
      Well, it surely doesn't seem to me that abdication of power and position would be of benefit to our nation.

      September 7, 2014 at 5:51 pm |
    • Philip

      Yeah. Let's have Poland step up and say these are government sponsored terrorist activities. Nit really Poles terrorizing Germans as an excuse to pilfer. Again, in this case.

      September 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
      • LaBella

        "Nit" really? If you're going to be an asshat about everyone else's typing, make sure yours is impeccable. Which one are you: Deep South our upper state Michigan?

        September 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm |
    • Philip

      Don't forget Israel, Joey. Just why isn't Israel in-on coalition forces fighting ME terrorism anyway? NATO would allow IDF to join-in with coalitions, surely. Perhaps even Israeli MOSSAD.
      steps up to the pump, Israel. Send your IDF to fight alongside your "allies" why don't you.

      September 7, 2014 at 8:51 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        Israel, Philip?
        You must have forgotten the Meaning of Israel.

        September 8, 2014 at 6:56 am |
  12. Philip

    Let's occupy South Central LA and Chicago. 🙂

    September 7, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
    • Philip

      I got $2 bucks says Chicago gang bangers have executed more of US than "ISIS" has this year. Double down South Central LA manboys.

      September 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
      • Philip

        *boyz, rather. "Boi" to men with black skin fetishes/current or former crack heads.

        September 7, 2014 at 9:01 pm |
      • LaBella

        What the hell are "black skin fetishes"?

        September 7, 2014 at 9:47 pm |
      • LaBella

        What in the blue blazes does "men with black skin fetishes" even mean?

        September 7, 2014 at 10:15 pm |
      • LaBella

        First it was there, then it was gone, now both are back? Wow.

        September 7, 2014 at 10:17 pm |
  13. Philip

    Don't let "ISIL" disguise themselves as illegal Mexicans and waltz right-across our Southern border, rather We could send their youngsters to university as they poison our unguarded city water supplies.

    September 7, 2014 at 8:54 pm |
    • LaBella

      Paying attention, ISIS? Philip just gave you a great plan. Get cracking.

      September 7, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        @ LaBella,
        Don't you think that Philip may have stolen that plan from THE TURNER DIARIES?

        September 8, 2014 at 6:11 am |
      • LaBella

        He may have. It was such an inspiration for McVeigh.

        September 8, 2014 at 8:37 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      My primary concern regarding our guests who have crossed USA borders in error due to their being information-challenged regarding our right-wing, racist, capitalist-oppressive, Republican, and immoral immigration laws is that these innocent children receive decent medical care, education, and, of course, housing and food.
      Everybody has a right to housing and food. It's in the Const-

      September 8, 2014 at 5:55 am |
      • LaBella

        Don't worry, Joey; there's a nice welcoming commitee to greet the buses of those incoming children, complete with vicious signage and foaming mouths to quell their pre-conceived notions of what that party stands for.

        September 8, 2014 at 8:41 am |
  14. The GOP Solution

    The GOP Solution: Turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. Then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. And don't forget the GOP all time favorites........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!

    September 8, 2014 at 9:25 am |
  15. The "Compassionate" GOP Solution

    The GOP Prayer/Mantra/Solution: Dear God...With your loving kindness, help us to turn all the Old, Sick, Poor, Non-white, Non-christian, Female, and Gay people into slaves. Then, with your guidance and compassion, we will whip them until they are Young, Healthy, Rich, White, Christian, Male, and Straight. Or until they are dead. God...Grant us the knowledge to then turn them into Soylent Green to feed the military during the next "unfunded/off-the-books" war. God...Give us the strength during our speeches to repeatedly yell........TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH!!!..........and........GET RID OF SS AND MEDICARE!!!
    In your name we prey (purposely misspelled, or is it?)........Amen

    September 8, 2014 at 9:28 am |
  16. truthseeker

    Unfortunately, the discussion went from an intelligent discourse to a degenerated and human degrading one. It's no longer worthy of participation. Too bad, because it HAD differing opinions that were both interesting and valuable.

    September 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
  17. blueturtle7645

    This is an excellent article by Fareed Zakaria about ISIS and the dangers of the United States getting involved too quickly.
    I support our President's policy of treading slowly and carefully.

    September 8, 2014 at 5:03 pm |
    • so true

      don't tell the war mongers that! shhhhhhhhhhhh........... 🙂

      September 9, 2014 at 12:38 am |
  18. ge

    for some in the USA bombing is called job creation –the only thing America manufactures any more. thanks to the rich and their politicians

    September 8, 2014 at 9:31 pm |
    • so true

      Back in the 50's, only 20% of the US economy was linked to the US military industrial complex. Over the last 30 years, USA has "gifted" away over 50 million jobs to Asia. So this fact, combined with the 911 attack, caused 56% of the US economy to currently be involved in either the military industrial complex (MIC) of the spy industrial complex (SIC). This cannot be a good thing, for any country to slide into this alley. Most Americans have no clue.

      September 9, 2014 at 12:35 am |
  19. truthseeker

    Nice to see an intelligent discussion back : )

    September 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
  20. Cyrusz

    Rafsanjani number 2 Mullah Iran regime told today: We must give more weapons and rockets to the Hamas as much as gave to the Hezbollah in the past to make the region safe against the Israel!!

    September 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
  21. Cyrusz

    The Islamic State is not something new!
    It happened in Iran 35 years ago and Iranian people still have big trouble to
    get rid of it.
    The Iran regime keep the Iranian people in a big jail and try to
    expand its empire all around including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan,
    Bahrain, Yemen....with exporting the Shia terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Badre
    and Ghods sepah.
    They also making bomb and rockets in their hidden military sites....
    The USA must planning to fight against all Islamic radical groups.

    September 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
  22. truthseeker

    Please remember that the money that the US uses to fight these wars comes from the sacrifices of hard working Americans. This includes the poor and the disenfranchised some who came as immigrants and some who are the descendants of slaves and rural farmers on whose backs this nation was built and stands. These are the same people whose children are displaced from their jobs and job opportunities in favor of your children. They are the same children who go to fight in these wars and either dye or come home severely compromised.

    When are YOUR children going to leave their lucrative careers and comfortable affluent lives and go to fight for the lands of their ancestry and religious homelands?

    How fare is your expectation that "America" will take care the problems created and perpetuated in the middle east indefinitely? I'm just asking for the sake of fairness.

    September 10, 2014 at 7:16 pm |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Just how much do these thugs in Washington care about the lives of our children, truthseeker? Very little! They'll do whatever it takes to be politically "correct".

      September 11, 2014 at 8:05 pm |
  23. truthseeker

    sorry for the typos... I was a bit emotional while typing, "dye" should be die etc..., you get the drift.

    September 10, 2014 at 7:18 pm |
  24. Lauren Pierce

    Alexander City Middle School

    September 12, 2014 at 8:54 am |
  25. Rudy

    Iranian government is very sneaky, the iranian mullahs want US military to fight ISIS for them, we don't want to be doing Iranian dirty work. Let Iranian fight ISIS instead and let them bleed fighting ISIS.
    Not long ago Iranian supplied lethal IED'd to Iraqis insurgents that killed many US soldiers in Iraq's war.
    If we have to fight ISIS, just limit fighting ISIS in Iraq and let the Iranian mullahs fight ISIS in Iran and Syria.

    September 18, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
  26. Mouhamed al-karim Hazim Jabar Humus

    Isis is bad period. This is the first time I have ever really felt threatened by some rag-tag band of fools with fireworks. We have to do something and we have to do it quick. #End of the world

    September 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
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