Why isn't US calling Paris attacks 'Islamic extremism'?

Weighing strategy against terror


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 14, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: If Al Qaeda in Yemen is claiming responsibility for the Paris terror attack, then former U.S. spokesman at the United Nations Richard Grenell is wondering, why is the U.S. not calling the attack Islamic extremism?

That's a very logical kind of a next step thought. Why aren't we? What do you think?

RICHARD GRENELL, FOUNDER, CAPITOL MEDIA PARTNERS: I think this is a very strategic statement from the White House.

It's a long line of history that we have seen this White House really try to downplay the fact that it has anything to do with Islam. And they seem to be hyper-sensitive about it.

CAVUTO: But to what end, though, Richard? No, I'm sorry, but to what end? Because you -- you go through linguistic hoops to try to make that case, even when many in your own party are making the opposite case. And you begin to look almost completely out of touch.

GRENELL: Well, look, we shouldn't be surprised.

Candidate Obama told us that he was going to cuddle up to our enemies. He fundamentally believes -- now, we disagree with this, but he believes that if you are nicer to your enemies, if you bring them in, as Hillary Clinton says, sympathize with those who oppose you, then somehow they are going to back down.

It's this idea that if we just have the right words and we say the right thing that somehow they are magically going to say, we are no longer enemies.


CAVUTO: Well, that didn't work. It didn't work. It didn't work.

GRENELL: No. It doesn't work.


GRENELL: Inherent in that assumption...


CAVUTO: A meritorious goal failed. So, then now what do we do?

GRENELL: Well, look, I think the -- we need to realize we're not going to change the president's mind on this. He is not going to go after Islamic radicalism.

But we should be able to push him to do something about this terrorism. Clearly, he's got to believe that this terrorism is wrong. I think, look, we're spending so much money at the U.N. The U.N. doesn't do a lot, unless the U.S. has some sort of leadership. Why can't we in a multilateral setting call an emergency Security Council meeting, pressure the Arabs in New York to do something?

This is their problem first. They need to realize that if they want terrorism to stop, and we have to push them to make sure that they make that decision, then they have to do something in their own backyard.

CAVUTO: What does the administration get out of the -- don't say Islamic extremism? What are they getting out of it? Because these countries are still treating him like crap, and they are still treating the United States like crap.

So I could see if there was like a quid pro quo, and you rest easy on us, we're going to rest easy on you. That's not working. So, I guess I -- I'm always trying to come up with the benefit of the doubt here.


CAVUTO: And where's the benefit? Because I have a lot of doubts.

GRENELL: Well, if you -- if you remember back when they first took over, the Obama team, they really wanted to see our reputation improved. And they really talked about the fact that Bush really ruined our reputation around the world.

They -- they maximized -- this -- this Obama team maximizes being popular. They want countries to say, oh, yes, we like the United States.

CAVUTO: But they're not. They're less popular than Bush was.

So, I get -- what I'm saying is, if that was your goal, it didn't work out. So, now you have to shift strategies, because the shift has hit the fan. And they are ignoring you, whether you call them Islamic extremists or not, so obviously you're wasting your time being diplomatic.


GRENELL: Yes. No, they are still popular, though, because other countries don't want to be told what to do. So, they like a weak United States.

So, the Obama team is looking at this and saying, oh, we're popular with other countries. We just don't have any influence. The Bush team was more interested in influencing. They didn't care about the popularity.

CAVUTO: But he's not popular with Iraq. He's not popular with Syria. He's not popular with Yemen. He's not popular with the United Arab Emirates.

GRENELL: At the U.N...

CAVUTO: He's not popular with all of these kingdoms that -- that have these extremist influences. So, it's not working.

So, I would just say, well, I thought I was going to be popular. It's not cutting it. So, now I'm going to back and be like an SOB like the other guy.

GRENELL: Well, I think in the beginning, he was very popular with these countries because they like not being told what to do.

But what we're finding after six years is a lot of these countries realize, we do need a leader. We do want the United States. And so they are realizing a weak United States ultimately is not good for them.

CAVUTO: Wow. Scary stuff.

Richard, thank you. I appreciate it. All right.

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