Obama said to liken Islamic State to the Joker
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Obama said to liken Islamic State to the Joker

Jihadist group ‘is the Joker’ from the Batman movies, Atlantic quotes president saying. ‘It has the capacity to set the whole region on fire’

Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight (Courtesy)
Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight (Courtesy)

President Barack Obama has likened the Islamic State terror group to the character of the Joker in the Batman movies, for its capacity to cause widespread destruction, the Atlantic reported Thursday.

In The Obama Doctrine, a major piece on the Obama presidency, writer Jeffrey Goldberg discusses Obama’s sense, in late 2014, that US intelligence had underestimated the scale of the danger posed by the jihadist group. When Islamic State beheaded three US citizens in Syria, the president concluded that defeating IS was a higher priority for the US than ousting Syria’s President Bashar Assad, Goldberg writes.

Goldberg says advisers to the president recall him citing “a pivotal moment in The Dark Knight, the 2008 Batman movie, to help explain not only how he understood the role of ISIS, but how he understood the larger ecosystem in which it grew.” Continues Goldberg: “’There’s a scene in the beginning in which the gang leaders of Gotham are meeting,’ the president would say. ‘These are men who had the city divided up. They were thugs, but there was a kind of order. Everyone had his turf. And then the Joker comes in and lights the whole city on fire. ISIL is the Joker. It has the capacity to set the whole region on fire. That’s why we have to fight it.’”

US President Barack Obama delivers a statement about efforts to defeat the Islamic State group, on Monday, December 14, 2015 (screen capture: YouTube)
US President Barack Obama delivers a statement about efforts to defeat the Islamic State group, on Monday, December 14, 2015 (screen capture: YouTube)

Elsewhere in the piece, Goldberg writes that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is in his own category” when it comes to the Middle East leaders who have most deeply disappointed Obama.

According to Goldberg, “Obama has long believed that Netanyahu could bring about a two-state solution that would protect Israel’s status as a Jewish-majority democracy, but is too fearful and politically paralyzed to do so.”

To illustrate Obama’s impatience with Netanyahu, one of several Middle Eastern leaders said to have questioned the president’s understanding of the region, Goldberg relates an incident during an undated Obama-Netanyahu meeting, at which the Israeli prime minister “launched into something of a lecture about the dangers of the brutal region in which he lives.”

Obama, relates Goldberg, “felt that Netanyahu was behaving in a condescending fashion, and was also avoiding the subject at hand: peace negotiations. Finally, the president interrupted the prime minister: ‘Bibi, you have to understand something,’ he said. ‘I’m the African American son of a single mother, and I live here, in this house. I live in the White House. I managed to get elected president of the United States. You think I don’t understand what you’re talking about, but I do.'”

President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on March 5, 2012 (photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on March 5, 2012 (photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
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