Why does he keep calling them “ISIL”?

A couple of day-after–the-speech thoughts…

First, some props for the President.

On the style front, I’ was glad that he was eyes forward last night.  As loyal readers know, for prior talks to we0the-people, I asked Why didn’t he look us in the eyes?  Apparently he reads HomaFiles and changed course.


But, the speech left me scratching my head ….


This is all stylistic & communications stuff …. I don’t want to get into the politics … at least not today.

The NY Times headline today is:


… and the NYT body text says:

“We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Mr. Obama declared in a 14-minute address. “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq,” he added, using an alternative name for ISIS.

Seems like everybody in the world, except Obama and his direct reports, call the bad guys ISIS.

So why Obama persist in calling them an alternate brand name.

Are ISIS and ISIL the same people? Are they different in some way? What distinction is he trying to force us to understand?  Is it a legal thing? Is it for deniability, e.g. “I never said I’d destry ISIS” …

I don’t get it.

My hypothesis: it’s a power thing … demonstrating superiority by “knowing” and saying  the proper name.

Kinda like pronouncing Pakistan: “Pak-ee-stahn”


I chuckled when he tried to argue that the “Islamic State …” wasn’t “Islamic”  and wasn’t a “State”.


Go tell that to ISIL or ISIS or IS-whatever that their “I” and their “S” stand for something different.

Moreover, somebody tell the Obama-friendly Washington Post whose story titles today spotlighted an “Islamic State”.:

Obama - WashPost- Islamic State



Why did he claim that Yeman and Somalia are the sucess models.

First. many commentators consider Yeman and Somalia to to failed states – not successes.

And, all commentators seem to agree that the difference in scale, scope and intensity is so different that the analogy is strained, at best.

More important, for a communications perspective, most people in the U.S. don’t even know their state capials or can point to Montana on a map.

Does he really think that those same folks have a clue re: Yeman and Somalia?

That’s a stretch ….

==== +

Given that the man oft-claims a “gift” has a communicator, he seems prone to unforced error, doesn’t he?


Question: Wonder how many people watched the speech?  I bet  the under on that one



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One Response to “Why does he keep calling them “ISIL”?”

  1. Andrew L. Says:

    ISIS = “and Syria” and ISIL = “and the Levant”. Rhetorically important because Syria has multiple groups of bad guys (and why do we care if one group of bad guys kills another) and the Levant includes Palestine, Israel, Turkey, and other important places. It also shows the scope of the threat.

    I rather liked his debunking of “Islamic State”. They aren’t a country and they don’t represent the religion. It would be like calling San Jose, CA the “Buddhist State.” We should deny their self-identification on principle alone.

    Personally, I would suggest Transnational Hominids Unified in Great Sociopathy. THUGS has all the “cool factor” of ISIS plus all of the accuracy of ISIL

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