U.S. must not jump when ISIS asks it to
September 16th, 2014
04:04 PM ET

U.S. must not jump when ISIS asks it to

CNN’s New Day speaks with Fareed Zakaria about recent developments over the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and what the U.S. response should be. This is an edited version of the transcript.

What is the perspective from Arab states about who is willing to join the coalition against ISIS and put boots on the ground?

Let's think about it from this point of view. What is ISIS’s strategy? What are they trying to do to put out these videos, by doing this kind of brutality? They are trying the goad the United States in. What they want to do is say, there America goes again, invading another Arab country, bombing Muslims, and we are the defenders. They want to make it us against them.

What we have to be careful not to play into the game, not to jump when they ask us to.


The most important thing is that we have to make sure that the other Arab states are involved. We have a few countries like Saudi Arabia that say they would be willing to participate in the bombings.

Only training though. Bombings and training, not on the ground.

I would like to see a Saudi general announcing bombing targets rather than a U.S. general. I would like an Arab face to it.

Better optics.

Well, much better optics…The crucial mistake is if we allow it to be portrayed as the United States invading and attacking another Muslim country.

Did the U.S. get brought into the coalition because of the beheadings? It is not only about taking out ISIS militarily, but doing the political and cultural reform, which is the only hope of changing the situation long term.

I think so. I think that at the end of the day, the only way you get rid of ISIS is by getting at what is feeding it. And what's feeding it is this massive political discontent in Iraq and Syria among Sunnis, who think they are being ruled by two apostate regimes. In Iraq, the Shia, and in Syria, the Alawites, who are kind of branch of the Shia.

So, we've got to figure out that dynamic, which means we can't turn this into a Sunni versus Shia, can't turn it into a U.S. versus Arab. So, there’s a political dimension to this that is at the heart of getting it right.

We're bombing in and around Baghdad, and that is a security interest. But we’re ready to go into Syria and arming a not only just ill-equipped, but very unsuccessful Free Syrian Army that, by the way, doesn't want to fight ISIS, it wants to fight al-Assad. It seems like a recipe disaster and our Arab state coalition partners are just sitting there watching.

It seems like a recipe for a lot of unintended consequences. Think about Iraq, which at least the military part of it was reasonably well-planned and there were still massive amounts of unintended consequences. What are the unintended consequences here? You're strengthening the al-Assad regime. You're strengthening Iran. You're strengthening Hezbollah. You're strengthening Russia, because after all, Russia is…

They’ve been quiet by the way. And where is Putin about what's going on with ISIS?

Well, he’s pleased that we are shoring up the al-Assad regime. So there are parts of this that the political fallout from military action is as important as the military action. It’s easy for the United States with its massive military power to drop the bombs, but it’s much harder to do the politics and the diplomacy that will make it effective.

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Topics: Iraq • Syria

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soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. zedshed

    Time to change direction – say that the worst threat needs to be got rid of first, and to support the Syrian government, encouraging it to hold another, this time internationally monitored, vote after the country is rid of ISIS.

    September 16, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
    • Philip

      What about Muslim Brotherhood disguised as Syrian rebels? The Muslim Brotherhood that failed in takeover attempt of Egypt and so moved-in on Assad with US support.

      September 16, 2014 at 6:36 pm |
    • Media Propaganda

      BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      ISIS is now beheading people all across America! They are walking door to door pretending to be mormon missionaries. Don't answer the door! They are using laser beams!

      September 19, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
  2. rupert

    Nationwide is on your side

    September 16, 2014 at 5:06 pm |
    • Philip

      Nationwide obesity? Or just the same old nationwide AIDS epidemic.

      September 16, 2014 at 7:31 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        Obesity, @ Philip, is much more popular in our formerly great nation than HIV.

        September 16, 2014 at 9:32 pm |
      • Philip

        True, that @Joey. Obesity kills far more of US than AIDS. Only about 40 or 50 thousand Americans die of AIDS each year, while upwards of 40% of all Americans who die prematurely die of complications resulting from being so freaking fat.

        September 17, 2014 at 8:28 am |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    We need to support the Assad regime in Syria rather than the riff raft trying to overthrow it!

    September 16, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
    • Philip

      The riff raff doing the most damage is Syria's worst drought ever that has displaced about 4 million people so far. Probably more.

      September 16, 2014 at 6:33 pm |
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Sorry folks. I didn't post that stupid comment above. Some clown is trying to discredit me.

    September 16, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
  5. Philip

    We need to outlaw organized religion. Until we do, one man's religious zealot will always be another man's terrorist. Imagine a world free of religious division. No more Jew vs Muslim. No more Christian vs Christian. Wouldn't that be nice.

    September 16, 2014 at 6:21 pm |
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    I have been hijacked under two avatars on this one thread. I have posted nothing before this.
    I want to be left alone, trolls.

    September 16, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
    • Philip

      We need to outlaw organized religion. Until we do, one man’s religious zealot will always be another man’s terrorist. Imagine a world free of religious division. No more Jew vs Muslim. No more Christian vs Christian. Wouldn’t that be nice.
      Wouldn't that be nice, Joey? No more bombs dropped for religious reasons. See?

      September 16, 2014 at 7:24 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        The reasons are not truly religious. You don't really believe that they are, do you?
        Were the priests' passports arranged by Bishop Hudal actually for the spiritual interests of the Roman Church?

        September 16, 2014 at 9:25 pm |
      • Philip

        Joey. The English word "religion" literally means Form of Worship. Virtually everyone are religious. Some worship a 3-headed hellgod, others worship money or famous athletes or entertainers. Still others worship themselves.
        The word Religion has nothing to do with Truth.

        September 17, 2014 at 8:33 am |
    • banasy©

      Same guy. Multiple avatars. Not subtle, but then he's not going for subtlety.

      September 16, 2014 at 7:42 pm |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        Lo so, banasy.

        September 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm |
      • banasy©

        He's also fluent, JIF.
        A true jack of all trades, and master of his own domain.

        September 17, 2014 at 12:47 am |
  7. rupert

    My pet chicken has glaucoma. He is going blind.

    September 16, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Teach him Braille while he remains sighted.

      September 16, 2014 at 9:51 pm |
      • rupert

        You're cracking me up JIF.

        September 17, 2014 at 4:25 am |
      • Marjatta Hartzell

        Ha, ha, ha. The one who wrote this article said, that something unexpected happened in Iraq. That is not true. Long ago it was known how al Maliki is and still areica was behind him, though another guy won in the elections some years ago. It was really expected, that this would happen because of al Maliki, who always prefered the shias, maybe partly because of what he owed to Iran, that took care of him for years.

        September 17, 2014 at 12:27 pm |
  8. jump..... 800 lb Gorilla...... jump......

    This article says it perfectly........ ISIS has learned that when they say.......... jump.......... the 800 lb Gorilla will ignorantly and blindly.......... jump............ because that's what dumb 800 lb Gorillas do.......... especially 800 lb Gorillas that get to empty the wallets of their naive and helpless taxpayers.......... every time it jumps............ that's the whole entire reason why it jumps at all................ it is ALL about emptying the taxpayers wallets................ jump, jump, jump........... bomb, bomb, bomb............ it even has a SICK ring to it........... 🙁

    September 16, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
  9. Ferhat Balkan

    The US already jumped on the band wagon. Unfortunately, this is only the start. Eventually, the US will get further involved with ground troops and we'll find ourselves in another prolonged war in Iraq. This is what the hawkish Republicans wanted all along. The scenario that created al-Qaeda and ISIS is unfolding once again just to appease the large pockets of Military corporations and corrupt leaders. Things will never get better until we learn that war is not the answer.

    September 16, 2014 at 9:20 pm |
    • the sad truth

      Thanks for this wisdom, Ferhat. The sad truth is that the Roman Empire also never learned that war was not the answer. Their military was completely in charge of their politics. In fact, some Roman Emperors were even murdered because they went against the politics of their military! Things never got better. They kept on killing. They kept on meddling. Until, one fine day, in 476 AD, their whole entire world came crashing down, brought down by the sheer weight of their military debt! All the people that they had been destroying, murdering, thieving from, enslaving..... all got to get even...... eventually..... and the 7 hills of Rome were burned to the ground....... it (Rome) actually looked worse than Gaza or Fallujah or Kabul look today.......... and it was all their (Romans') fault...... 🙁

      September 16, 2014 at 9:58 pm |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Good posting, Ferhat. Thank you.

      September 16, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    There is an osprey that I watch. He sits on a fallen tree that hangs over a pond and watches for a meal to swim by.
    He is a magnificent manifestation of God.

    September 16, 2014 at 9:46 pm |
    • Philip

      Hogwash, @Joey. The God of the bible does not prey on weaker creatures. The god you describe is God's enemies that DO prey on weaker ones than they.

      September 17, 2014 at 8:46 am |
  11. rupert

    Why not just sit back for a change and let our rubber-stamp "allies" fight the ISIS? All these scare tactics used by our useless politicians do get old after a while!

    September 16, 2014 at 11:27 pm |
  12. how high?

    when ISIS says jump..... the US responds with..... how high??? that's how low we have sunk as a nation........ we have crawled into the gutter with uneducated hoodlums..... and we are stuck there..... 🙁

    September 16, 2014 at 11:31 pm |
    • rupert

      We'll put, how high.

      September 16, 2014 at 11:58 pm |
  13. rupert

    Who is using my name? Who or whom ever it is, stop it.

    September 17, 2014 at 1:39 am |
  14. Old Mac Donald had a bomb.....

    Ol' MacDonald had a farm
    Ee Ai Ee Ai O
    And on that farm he had some bombs
    Ee Ai Ee Ai O
    Here a bomb, there a bomb
    Everywhere a bomb bomb
    Ol' MacDonald had a farm
    Ee Ai Ee Ai O

    September 17, 2014 at 1:58 am |
  15. Thomas

    You can ask CNN to find out who is using your name , then track them down ,

    Then turn them over to the NSA and IRS as suspected terrorists who didn't pay taxes .

    September 17, 2014 at 1:58 am |
    • Philip

      Thomas. Get a clue. CNN has been allowing the hijacking of personal s/n's for many years. Why? I simply do not know why. It is very peculiar, though, I'm sure.

      September 17, 2014 at 8:51 am |
    • banasy©

      CNN's reaction to trolls is to close the comments or not enable them in the first place, Thomas.
      CNN has been aware of this problem for years, as Philip stated.

      September 17, 2014 at 10:35 am |
  16. the more we bomb together....

    the more we bomb together
    the sadder we will be
    for your friends become your enemies
    and my friends become your enemies
    the more we bomb together
    the sadder we will be......

    September 17, 2014 at 1:59 am |
  17. a3445

    Do not put boots on the ground – put nukes on the ground!

    I say, nuke Rakka and finish it with one single bang.

    September 17, 2014 at 6:13 am |
  18. Philip

    Why did TV talking heads all of a sudden stop reporting on the activities of US/Israel backed Muslim Brotherhood fighting Assad in Syria?

    September 17, 2014 at 8:37 am |
  19. My Picture Of Muhammad


    September 17, 2014 at 8:44 am |
  20. what 800 lb Gorillas love to do......

    Jump, Jump, Jump
    Bomb, Bomb, Bomb
    Empty your wallet....
    Jump, Jump, Jump
    Bomb, Bomb, Bomb
    Empty your wallet....

    and this has been going on since 1917....
    no wonder your wallet is so so empty....

    September 17, 2014 at 10:28 am |
    • George patton

      Nicely said, what 800 lb Gorillas love to do.........

      September 17, 2014 at 4:41 pm |
  21. chri§§y

    Hogwash and get a clue! Hmmm takes ya back dont it? Back when people werent civilised. Back when they didnt know how to speak properly. Back when they were just so messed up from drugs and booze. Oh yea...back when they were meaner the catsh!t and twice as nasty!

    September 17, 2014 at 10:47 am |
  22. chri§§y

    Did YOU get a clue???

    September 17, 2014 at 10:48 am |
  23. Thomas

    Why not hold an isis members family just s responsible , wires , children , ect ?

    September 17, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
  24. Oh Susanna...

    Oh Susanna
    don't you cry for me
    I'm off to the Iraqi desert
    with my rifle on my knee
    Oh Susanna
    please don't cry for me
    my country is a brokie broke
    while ISIS grins with glee
    Oh Susanna
    don't you cry for me
    I'm off to the Iraqi desert
    with my rifle on my knee

    September 17, 2014 at 6:42 pm |
    • poor ol' grunt

      Poor ol' Grunt......... Nobody cries for him anymore, like they used to........... 5000 mowed down in Iraq, 35,000 came back with PTSD, and even the VA Hospital system doesn't give a "you know what"...... send him to Iraq again, me hearties, so that them war mongers can get even more rich........ 🙁

      September 17, 2014 at 8:42 pm |
      • George patton

        Good posting, poor ol' grunt and Oh Susanna. Well said.

        September 18, 2014 at 10:23 am |
  25. j. von hettlingen

    Now the US doesn't "jump" into the fire, right after the beheadings of two Americans. Obama is doing the right thing by gathering a coalition of states to confront ISIS. Obama is holding back some of the hawks, who want immediate action.

    September 19, 2014 at 10:30 am |
  26. chri§§y

    Agree @ j von and THAT must just grind those doddering old warmongers in DC to no end!

    September 19, 2014 at 11:19 am |
  27. Media Propaganda

    BREAKING NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    ISIS is now beheading people all across America! They are walking door to door pretending to be mormon missionaries. Don't answer the door! They are using laser beams!!

    September 19, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
    • rupert

      Well said, Media Propaganda.

      September 20, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
  28. Eddie Fonseca

    As many Americans who sit in their living rooms eating a big bowl of popcorn also sipping a couple of cold ones, after a long hard day's work and watching the television and seeing another stupid ISIS message about how they hate America, and their Allies such as Israel and Egypt should we not wake up the hell up and turn of our televisions and write to our congress leaders to tell them to cut of their funding or bomb the hell out of them. When ISIS starts to make a comparison with Muslims in America and around the world to join their lost causes, it makes me laugh and I tell you why ladies and gentleman. Being an American who has traveled to the Middle East and has dated many American Christian Muslim educated Arab women, I have talked many of them who all reject the notation of helping ISIS lost cause to destroy western democracy. Most of the Muslims Americans think of ISIS as this outdated group who want to setback women's rights, and this bizarre political agenda which has no place in our societies atall. So America what should we do with ISIS, should we let them rule our lives with an iron fist with their strange political messages or should we do what we always do best as nation bring peace and chaos to the free world for years to come.

    August 28, 2015 at 1:57 am |
  29. life board game

    I dugg some of you post as I cogitated they were invaluable handy.


    April 13, 2018 at 1:43 pm |

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