Putin’s Moral Clarity, ISIS, Disingenuous Pundits and the Truth

by DR. ROBIN MCFEE May 5, 2016

A few months ago I wrote a piece titled Putin's moral clarity on radical Islam at the UN - Did I just say that?  To be sure it was a bit of surrealism - just check out the title! Amongst many other inclusions, in the article I quoted Putin's speech at the UN, during which he describes the dangers of ISIS and the poor results of US foreign policy in terms of various dangers emerging as a result of our (Obama's) failed Middle East efforts. Well it's time to look at how the Middle East, global events, and my predictions played out from when it was first posted.

Let's recap what has transpired since I wrote that....Putin has control over Santa's Village and the North Pole. His air force has invaded our sovereign air space - both the continental US territory, and our US Navy. He has turned part of Syria into a Russian outpost. Iran has enjoyed an influx of money, as European interests invest in that energy rich nation. The fine friendly folks of Tehran have advanced their missile capacity, and are continuing nuclear development, as well as other forms of advanced weapons. Iran's proxies continue the strategy of death by a thousand cuts on Israel.  Iran has outplayed Obama deftly, and is reaping the benefits without any sacrifice. ISIS is a global franchise holder with offices across the Western world preparing to attack at opportune moments - whether bringing an airliner down, or attacking public transportation centers or office buildings, ISIS has had significant success. It is destroying historic landmarks of incalculable value, raped and murdered children, slaughtered families, and embarked upon a policy of genocide against Christians that has gone largely unnoticed by Obama, and ignored by the media. The US military budget is being cut, and our capabilities degraded. Obama has put boots on the ground in Iraq while the media largely turn a blind eye. Palestine is getting away with atrocities against Israel - while the UN and team Obama, along with team Bernie continue providing political cover.

While Al Qaeda and its various franchisees still have influence, and pose a great threat in certain regions, not the least of which are Yemen, Eastern Africa, and parts of North Africa (you know, the places Obama and Hillary claimed were becoming democracies, and closer friends with the US), ISIS has emerged as a leading danger to the West and US, having infiltrated major global capitals, and inspired or carried out major attacks in historically important cities such as Paris and Brussels. Christians, Jews, (and Muslims who do not subscribe to the ISIS brand or dogma), have a target on them. Crucifixion has returned, and ISIS uses it deftly to warn adversaries, especially Christians, of their fate under the growing Caliphate in the region.

Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu were, and are correct about the growing threats of ISIS - you know, the folks President Obama referred to in one speech as the "JV" and in another speech as "killers with good social media."  Putin revealed a clarity about a clear and present danger that Obama has yet to demonstrate, starting with the basics, like acknowledging or naming "radical Islam" as a problem, and identifying the terrorists, the various jihadist groups within the broader family of radicalized Moslems - ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko haram, and AQIM and the list of subsidiaries and free agents of various permutations of fanatic terrorists worldwide.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Beyond a few glaringly obvious issues, like Russian influence in Iran, and criminal money laundering, nevertheless, Putin highlights important facts.

Yes Putin is calling us out. He has announced his role as global statesman, sheriff, and arbiter. Putin is telling us, Russia is back, and he will fill "the power vacuum. " He is saying we are foolish to arm folks who are no more virtuous than the savages they are fighting.

We would be wise to reflect upon such foolishness since Obama became POTUS in terms of "'the mythical moderate in the Middle East.' It is Obama's white whale. It truly is a fool's errand.  The Arab Spring, to which Putin refers, was a glaring example of this folly."

Is there anyone with even half a brain unable to recognize when there is a power vacuum, someone will fill it - whether in the board room or world stage. Does anyone think Obama is a strong leader? His red lines in the sand are laughable. He negotiates so poorly that it would almost appear he is trying to disadvantage US interests (think the Iran deal). By comparison, and unhappily for those of us on Team USA, Putin is all too willing to fill the leadership void. And sadly he has become a sort of ‘go to guy,' while simultaneously remaining bad boy public enemy number one for the US State Department and POTUS. One day Obama and Kerry are nearly pleading with Putin for assistance, and the next day are chastising Putin for coloring outside the lines. Putin is the school yard bully, the school yard big brother, energy czar, military threat, and agent provocateur on the global stage all in one. Putin is part spy, part killer, part politician, and part statesman - all likely how he would describe himself.

That I quote Putin, or describe how he often outplays the West does not make me a fan, or admirer, as a writer asserted in an article that appeared shortly after Family Security Matters posted mine; his article was inaccurate, a blatant distortion and misrepresentation of my comments and article.  So interspersed with updates from my initial article, I will also take the liberty to set the record straight.

For starters, any sentient being capable of higher thought would recognize, just by the title of my piece that I was part spoofing myself, and part informing the reader that it is hard to believe the term "moral clarity" and "Putin" are in the same sentence. We all recognize even an adversary can inform his or her enemies, and warn them to stop running with scissors. That may not engender admiration, but the warning has merit, and should be heeded. And Putin was in a sense warning the US that we are running with scissors. He was also warning us to leave his interests alone. Duh! Like who could miss that? Not that he needed to, given Obama is unlikely to stand up to Putin, the Ayatollah or anyone other than the Republicans.

Also from the original article "Of course we should never forget Putin is KGB, which is to say there is danger and duplicity in his words. Any more than we should forget Obama is a product of rabid anti American mentors (George Soros, a few radical domestic terrorist/bombers, a Marxist or two or three, a racist minister, and the list goes on); something the media like to overlook."

Throughout the article I shed a light on our failed foreign policy, the threats of ISIS, Iran, and the folly of the Arab Spring - all from years of experience in the trenches, and working in the threat preparedness arena.  I wrote about the Arab Spring from eye level in the midst of it.  I wrote about Israel and Hamas and Hezbollah from the region. These articles are not the results of trolling the internet for articles to copy from or rip apart, safely behind a laptop screen typing out opinions.

As anyone who has read my work over the years will readily recognize - I've been among the first to put a spotlight on the risk from Iran, Putin, and the Russian-Iran alliance, nuclear advancements from Tehran and North Korea, the emergence of various cartels involving Tehran and Moscow, the threats Russia poses to our national interests, especially in the Middle East and Arctic, the dangers of ISIS, and the IRGC, on and on. That I recognize the various talents and skills Putin brings to the table in thwarting US interests, not that the leadership in Washington makes it difficult for Vladimir, or the Ayatollah, or any of our adversaries, it isn't the same as admiration. It's a call to pay attention...and counter him!

And for sharing the warnings of Putin and Netanyahu, a somewhat respected writer took the opportunity to write a piece using mine as a backdrop. That would have been ok, if he had written the truth. Isn't truth another word for accuracy, as in ‘accuracy in media?!' Perhaps the title of his enterprise isn't misleading, but satiric, like the title of my article? Misrepresenting me, misleading readers, or distorting the truth is not an action I will let go gently into the good night. I won't name the offender - but I will call out his behavior.  Disappointingly, like a bad game of operator, other sites glommed onto his inaccuracy bandwagon, and posted his piece, without fact checking or holding both articles side by side. Had they done that, his article would not have seen the light of day without editing for....hmmm.... what's the word? Oh yes, "accuracy!" As an aside, I did email the writer on the many points of distortion and inaccuracy in his piece as he clearly misrepresented what I wrote on multiple levels, - and in the process he did a major disservice to his readers, and himself. To be sure we all make mistakes - and an understanding audience allows for that. But misrepresentation is not an innocent mistake. To date he has not had the integrity or courage to atone or retract. I pointed out his many errors to editors of sites that carried his inaccurate piece. Only 1 editor acknowledged my outreach.  She would not retract the piece, but instead invited me to write a rebuttal.  That is not sufficient! Dishonest articles should be edited or pulled. Period!  As an aside, this is a sobering warning that not all internet sites are equal or educational or ethical or accurate.

Thankfully you, as readers at FSM should know that our editors do not allow such shenanigans, or hit pieces or distortions. If an error is found, the writer fixes it or the article disappears. It is called ethics in media.  Did the author miss the memo on ethics? Does he not seem to understand "accuracy in media" implies "ethics in media?"   

For the record - I was correct in that article, and have been proven correct over the course of these last few months. ISIS is a major global threat. The writer tried to convey that I downplayed other more dangerous threats than ISIS. That's idiotic. Beyond the fact that is not true, if he wants to waste time ranking evil instead of fighting it, that's his folly. But for me the reality is simple - we don't have the time or luxury to ignore any of the threats. And it is a fool's errand (a flea arguing who owns the dog) to argue who is more dangerous, akin to arguing who is the best quarterback of all time (Brady) as if it is winner take all (ok, I could be persuaded to vote for Montana, or Favre or P. Manning). But truth be told, ISIS has killed a significant number of people in the Middle East, and in Europe. Their ability to carry out attacks, and gain powerful penetration in nations across the globe that even Al Qaeda had difficulty attaining, make them a most dangerous foe. Their goal of regional and global caliphate and their unvarnished desire to sanitize the planet (something Al Qaeda didn't even advocate) beyond merely ridding Westerners from the holy sites of Islam should give us pause. Consider the Christian genocide for starters.

Is ISIS more dangerous than Iran? A fool's question - given the body count from both entities is high. Both are dangerous, both have demonstrated a willingness to kill, and both hate the West. And IF they get a nuke, YES, ISIS would be more dangerous in total than Iran! The old saying....worry about someone who wants 1 nuclear weapon, not someone who wants 100! Iran will always be a threat to Israel and US interests. Iran and ISIS pose a grave threat to the US. Iran is nuclear, some assembly required, and that makes them very, very dangerous. And, spoiler alert....We've screwed up handling both of them.

And for anyone who has read my work over the years in FSM, you have seen my warnings about Putin, and the danger he poses to our national interests, including his support of Iran. As for the dangers Iran, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and others pose to Israel, the US and the West, one merely needs to read my earliest articles on FSM from 2009.

The writer did what most of us loath about some of the media - cherry picking comments to portray the opposite of the true and original intent in order to score points with a constituency or garner attention or other base reasons - it misleads the reader, which is a cardinal sin in writing. Taking comments out of context, regardless of source, in order to distort the intent, analysis, and focus is unethical, and a disservice to the readers.  I will not comment on his intent; you can draw your own conclusions, but for someone of his experience to calculatedly misconstrue and misrepresent - it is an insult to his readers, and to my readers, and could not have been accidental or inexperience. Sadly someone who holds himself as the self appointed guardian of accuracy had to sink to such behavior. His readers and supporters deserve better! Newsflash - if you disagree with me, quote accurately, frame the argument cogently, and hit send. I'm thick skinned - you can like what I write, or don't like what I write. Just don't lie or mislead.

 As a quasi public figure, and pundit, I expect to generate strong opinions - both for, and in disagreement with my analysis.  A well framed comment is what discourse and learning in the public market of ideas is all about, and can provide wonderful exchanges. That's what healthy dialogue and debate, free speech, is all about. Enough said!

Thank you for allowing me to set the record straight.  Now let's move on to important global issues......

Threats, a recap....a few issues to consider:

ISIS is in every state in the US. An interview between Chuck Goudie of ABC TV7, and FBI Director Comey in February 2015 - "In less than two years, ISIS has gone from a terror start-up overseas to what FBI Director James Comey calls a chaotic spider web in the US, with young Muslim men being radicalized in Illinois and the 49 other states." Comey suggests ISIS uses social media like a job fair. That's how he says terrorists snagged three New York men facing ISIS charges. "Those people exist in every state. I have homegrown violent extremist investigations in every single state. Until a few weeks Alaska had none. Now it does."  

This is a sobering notion given the fact that we have a large Muslim population, though mostly peaceful and contributing to the greater community, nevertheless are full of young people, some of whom may be targeted for recruitment. It only takes a handful of people to cause social havoc. Consider how few there were in the Boston cell that carried out the Marathon Bombing. Though they weren't ISIS, the reality is simple - radicalization and recruitment can yield deadly results with a few vulnerable, inspired and radicalized young people.

ISIS is well financed, to the tune of billions of dollars - that buys lots of creative ways to use social media for recruitment and lots of ways to train. Earning millions per day, it has enterprises the US and our allies ought to shut down or disrupt with our shared economic, military, intelligence, and industrial capabilities. If we don't cut their funding, ISIS isn't going away any time soon.

ISIS has thousands of warriors, militants under arms. This isn't a tiny movement. It is an army.

ISIS is determined to function and fight in Turkey, Syria, Iraq. It has attacked interests in Iran and Lebanon. Not to mention the West. Turkey is important to our strategic and tactical interests.

ISIS has killed over 20,000 civilians in Iraq in 2014 according to the UN and forced 13 year olds into slavery or as fighters. By 2015 the body county continued at their hands. There are no holds barred in ISIS' playbook. Do not expect mercy, logic, or negotiation with this group. They are in it to win, see the long view. We are naïve, and foolish to think appeasement, singing kumbaya, or sharing a prayer rug with them will change their objective.

Finally Obama has recognized the need to step up US attacks on ISIS. Too bad he won't admit they emerged on his watch, and because of a power vacuum in the Middle East that he created. Putting a handful of boots on the ground in Iraq, after squandering any gains we had in that critical Middle East nation, poses more risk to our troops than to ISIS, unless we can mount a concerted effort with allies that addresses all the tentacles and support infrastructure ISIS relies upon.

Unfortunately, unlike Putin trying to project Russian influence, Obama seems content to contract American influence, unless his hand is forced by public opinion.  That is both a mistake, and opens the door to greater threats to our interests.

Then there's the mythical "coalition" Kerry et al talk about. What coalition? No sooner did the sanctions against Iran get lifted, enterprises from across the European continent rushed in to do business with Tehran.  If POTUS thinks he can inspire a restart to sanctions against Iran if they cross a line he is willing to back, and Europe will join the US, then he is the chief executive of Fantasy Island. Speaking of the stellar negotiating between team O and Iran, what did Obama get for his troubles? Ayatollah Airlines will not be using Boeing aircraft any time soon with the billions we released. And Iran is continuing to build missiles, and there is no doubt they are going on a weapons buying spree to complement their nuclear ambitions.

Iran is a destabilizing force in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and has provided advanced weapons to a variety of folks to fight Israel. Iran and North Korea are pals - and that is a dangerous duo. Instead of curtailing and containing Iran, Obama hands them the key to the city.

And for all the focusing on the Middle East, we have overlooked the Chinese threat, the Russian threat, and the North Korean threat to our international interests. And we are blithely unconcerned about radical groups in Africa who post a threat to our interests there.


Considering the world is more dangerous than it was in 2008, who we elect in 2016 (from POTUS to Congress) will have a critical impact on the future of our country. Not just in fulfilling the wish list of constituents but as officials who will either continue the downward trajectory of our current path, or alter the decline, redirecting our government, and helping our nation reemerge as a successful enterprise, willing and able to address domestic as well as international threats.

In the interim, in the absence of US leadership, others will fill that void, like our adversaries. It is not ideal, it is not desirable, and it is not pretty. But it is what it is.  Thankfully for us, China and Russia have hit some speed bumps. Putin's resolve and capabilities are somewhat curbed by the vagaries of his economy, since the resolve of his competitors is lacking.

The chilling reality - the world is a more dangerous place on Obama's watch. And that is bad for America, and Americans. From the Arctic to the Middle East to Asia to Mexico and South America there are forces, cartels, and adversaries with two objectives - to counter US influence, and to advance their objectives.  And we have allowed these enterprises to emerge more powerful than ever because we have misplayed our hand, misused our strength, and missed opportunities. And because we have not paid attention. This election is, in part at least, about paying attention again.

In future articles we will talk about some strategies to counter our adversaries.


Putin's Moral Clarity, ISIS, Disingenuous Pundits and the Truth - Even those who are amoral or immoral can have moral clarity on important issues and warn us when danger lurks, especially of our own doing. Putin isn't a paragon of virtue, but is in a position of enormous influence - and we allowed it to happen. ISIS is here to stay. The threat they pose is somewhat different from Iran; neither entities any less deadly in their own right, but ISIS is in the US, and a strike against the homeland must be anticipated.  Disingenuous pundits will always exist, as expedience and self promotion often trump doing the right thing. Perhaps that is why Diogenes kept searching as long as he did to find an honest person. But then it is good to remember, truth is always the first casualty - in war, in elections, in business, and in life.

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Dr. Robin McFee, MPH, FACPM, FAACT, is a physician, and clinical toxicologist. As medical director of Threat Science - and nationally recognized expert in WMD preparedness, she consults with government agencies, corporations and the media. Dr. McFee is the former director of the Center for Bioterrorism Preparedness (CB PREP) and bioweapons - WMD adviser to the Domestic Security Task Force, the former chair of the Global Terrorism Council of ASIS International, and a member of the US Counterterrorism Advisory Team. She has coauthored two books: Toxico-Terrorism by McGraw Hill and The Handbook of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Agents, published by Informa/CRC Press    


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