Did Someone Say Beheadings?


On October 3rd, the Islamic State published another graphic beating for the world to see. Alan Henning, a British humanitarian aid provider was murdered. The decapitation video was meant as a message to President Barack Obama, who they blamed for the deaths. In the same video, the executioner threatened the life of captured American aid worker and former army ranger, Peter Kassig. But Obama has decided to focus on more electable issues as we head into the final stretch before midterms.

The President has been losing on foreign policy issues. Suddenly, the press has zeroed in on his policies (or lack thereof) in the Middle East and his overall leadership in international issues. The American people aren’t pleased. Even Saturday Night Live aired a skit joking about how Democrats don’t want to be associated with the President while they are campaigning.

So instead of dealing with an issue that threatens the lives of Americans at home and abroad, Obama has shifted his focus to policies he thinks he can win on. The new major push from the white house is on the economy. The new let’s-pretend-nothing-is-happening pivot began on the first day of October with a flurry of emails about jobs, including pushing a live event at Northwestern University. On October 3rd, hours after the beheading was announced another email came out from the White House on the jobs report without even a mention of the looming international threats. In fact, while Twitter was blowing up over Henning’s death, you could watch a streaming video of Obama discussing the future ofmanufacturing in America. The talk was at Millennium Steel Services in Indiana, the same state the Perter Kassig is from—and yet not a mention of his name.

It would be unfair to say that the White House completely ignored the event. The Office of the Press Secretary did release a statement by the President condemning Henning’s death, and then they tweeted about it.

(Of course, no mention of Kassig there either.) It’s better than Obama’s twitter feed which has zero mention of anything outside of the economy for more than a week.

Peter Kassig’s parents didn’t wait for the President to talk about their son. They made their own news by releasing a YouTube response video to ISIS, imploring the captors to show mercy. They have also been quoted asking the world to pray for Henning’s family and others who are held prisoner by ISIS.

The President continues to use the strategy of distraction on issues he is losing, particularly when it comes to Middle East politics. Remember the pivot to Asia, away from the Middle East? Unfortunately for Obama, the Islamic State isn’t interested in the U.S. economy, and just pretending those beheadings aren’t happening won’t make ISIS stop. Even our lame duck President still has two years in the leadership, plenty of time for terrorists to get the international attention they want.

We can all agree, the economy is important, but it should never be a priority over the lives of Americans. But that’s not even the case here, its not the economy Obama cares about, it is midterm elections, and maintaining his reputation. But based on the mood of voters, not one is going to let Obama change the subject: the growing threat of the Islamic State must be dealt with. The President can’t pretend the outside world doesn’t exist forever, and hopefully in November Americans will make sure he can’t.


About Katrina Jorgensen

Katrina Jorgensen is a devoted advocate for Millennial issues with deep concerns over the direction of America's foreign policy. She seeks to promote political education and empowerment for her generation. You can find her on Twitter @Veribatim. With her focus on Eurasia, Katrina acts as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Young Republican National Federation, part of their International Committee. She is a writer and communication specialist in her day job. She regularly contributes to conservative blogs such as Red Alert and IJReview. She has worked as freelance journalist for think tanks, major media outlets and print newspapers. For 6 years, she ran her own web design and consulting company in Texas. Her true passion is non-profits. Katrina has worked for and advised multiple international NGOs. She volunteers her time and provides marketing advice to local charities and other not-for profit-organizations. Katrina also loves reading wonky foreign policy blogs, instgramming her cooking experiments, losing herself in a fiction novel, and exploring new places with her husband, Kai.