Obama being 'forceful' enough in messaging to ISIS?

KT McFarland, Pat Caddell weigh in


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 20, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: President Obama stepping away from his vacation in Martha's Vineyard to condemn ISIS for beheading Foley.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer, so that it doesn't spread. There has to be a clear rejection of these kind of nihilistic ideologies.

One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.


VARNEY: Was the president's statement forceful enough? To Washington insiders Pat Caddell and K.T. McFarland.

Pat Caddell, to you first. The president to me looked angry and he did look forceful. Do you think he's going to follow through?

PATRICK CADDELL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, I don't agree with that necessarily.

I didn't think -- I thought he was reading it like a 12th grader had written it. I thought it was pretty bloodless. You know, tone matters. And emoting matters. I didn't think he had it. I thought he was reading it.

We have had several of these things happen, where we had the takedown of the Scott government releasing the terrorists who brought down Pan Am 101, killed all those Americans. He didn't even go down and make a statement then.

We had the situation just a few weeks ago with the Malaysian airliner. You could contrast. And I think you have what he said and what -- compared to, say, what Ronald Reagan did with the Korean airline. He has all of these things.

I thought -- I was glad to see him use some words. Christian was great, that he finally mentioned them. And, of course, we are all appalled. But there was no righteous anger.


CADDELL: And most important, there was no statement of what we're going to do to them, how we're going to attack them, how we're going to strike at the heart of this, not on the periphery.


KT, this is going to be a test of the president's will going forward, because this isn't going away.


VARNEY: There are more Americans held. Do you think it was forceful enough?

MCFARLAND: Not in the least.

VARNEY: Really?

MCFARLAND: ISIS has just done a direct attack on Americans. This is the first time they have done it. What does the president say? Well, the arc of history, they're going to ultimately fail.

What the president should have gone out and done is said, you killed our people. We're going to hunt you down and we're going to kill you. Number one, we're going to give all the countries in the region what they need to do this, not American boots on the ground, which he always likes to say, but how about Arab sandals in the sand?

We're going to give the Peshmerga in Kurdistan whatever they need. We're going to give them American intelligence. We're going to give them American heavy equipment. We're going to bomb every ISIS convoy that moves. Number two, we're going to assemble a new coalition throughout the world, but starting in the Middle East.

We're going to get Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Jordan. We may try to get Turkey. We're going to get Israel. We're going to go to the Europeans and we're going to say we're now forming an anti- ISIS, an anti-Islamic coalition. We will all do our part to stop you.

And, then, third, protect Americans. Get serious about the homeland, because there are 7,000, according to Belgian intelligence, 7,000 European passport holders who are fighting in Iraq and Syria. There are several hundred American passport holders. They are coming home.


Pat Caddell, should the president has stopped short on his vacation and come back to Washington, D.C.?


VARNEY: David Cameron did. He has cut his vacation in Britain because the executioner in those tapes, he has got a British accent.

CADDELL: Yes. Well, it would be nice to see the president do something like that or cut his golf games.

But, look, I just -- I want to go to something that KT said that's important. If you're going to bomb them -- part of the problem we have is we cannot hurt ISIS where they're really vulnerable, in Syria. They have those two huge ammo dumps, I believe, where they have like 800,000 or 400,000 weapons, a lot of them ours.

They're sitting there vulnerable. But like in Vietnam, we have created a sanctuary because the president's Syrian policy is such a disaster, which is how we got in here part, that he won't attack them. We should have launched. Ronald Reagan in Libya launched an attack against Qaddafi. And that what we should have done in this instance.

VARNEY: Then, to you, Pat, is the president constrained by politics or is he constrained by military ability?

CADDELL: Well, there's no doubt that we have the airstrike capability of hitting those open targets and hurting ISIS at its base.

We have that. It is a lack of will. This president -- just like today, he says what is necessary, but never goes beyond that. I didn't think -- it's not like -- when he cares about something, whether it's Ferguson or what happened in Cambridge or whatever, you get a sense that he really is concerned.


CADDELL: I get the sense here he's going through the motions. And, as I said, that statement was awfully sophomoric in parts.


CADDELL: And I thought he -- but you need to do something, as KT said.

VARNEY: Last word to you, KT.

MCFARLAND: The president of the United States has to understand this doesn't go away. This is just the beginning.

There are 19 journalists that have gone missing that are probably being held hostage, at least two more Americans. There are thousands of Americans in Iraq, in Syria. They're contractors. They're part of NGOs. They're all now vulnerable to be taken hostage.

How are we all going to feel if the next picture you see is a 25-year- old young woman who is in Iraq teaching schoolgirls how to read and her head is cut off? It's time for the president to get serious and deal with it like a grownup.

Understand that you don't negotiate with them. You don't plead with them. You don't bargain with them. You kill them.



VARNEY: K.T. McFarland, Pat Caddell, both of you, thank you very much, indeed.

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