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Dempsey Explains Danger Posed By Extremist Groups
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18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey answers a question posed by moderator Lesley Stahl during the Aspen Security Forum, in Aspen, Colo., July 24, 2014. The forum is held every summer on the campus of the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization. It consists of panel discussions as well as in-depth conversations with leaders involved in security issues across government.

18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey answers a question posed by moderator Lesley Stahl during the Aspen Security Forum, in Aspen, Colo., July 24, 2014. The forum is held every summer on the campus of the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization. It consists of panel discussions as well as in-depth conversations with leaders involved in security issues across government. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp)

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ASPEN, Colo.,, July 24, 2014 —

It's important to recognize that the various religious extremist groups that threaten the United States do not share the same ideologies, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

"Some of them are opportunistic, some of them seek to establish a sense of political Islam and theocracy under sharia law, and some of them are apocalyptic, actually, meaning they have such a world view that it becomes of a magnitude that makes them, I think, especially dangerous," Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told an audience at the Aspen Security Forum.

The group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seeks a sense of religious legitimacy, he said. Its leaders believe they are the heirs to the Islamic caliphate that Muslims believe began with the prophet Muhammad.

"They can only sustain that religious legitimacy if they continue to succeed," Dempsey said. "So this is not a group that can go halfway. It has to keep moving toward its ultimate end-of-days, apocalyptic narrative or it will lose support, because it loses religious legitimacy."

ISIS must be contained, then disrupted and, ultimately, defeated, the chairman said.

"What makes it very hard is that ultimate defeat has to come from within the Sunni population," he said. Their defeat can be enabled and assisted by the United States, Dempsey said, but their end will come about only when moderate Sunnis of the region, and the world, reject them.

The group is very dangerous, he said. "They will employ whatever tactics they have to employ," the chairman added, noting that they have succeeded through infiltration and misinformation and by preying upon a "youth bulge" and disenfranchised populations in parts of the world that aren't led by inclusive governments.

"And then they just pop up one day, and you have to deal with them," Dempsey said. "And you deal with them by either allowing them their way or suffering the consequences."

The nation must take a long view in dealing with ISIL in particular, but also in dealing with many similar organizations that are filling voids where governments are absent or failing, the chairman said.

"This isn't about us. … This very much has to have the support of the government in Baghdad," he explained, adding that it remains to be seen whether the nation has a credible partner in the re-formed Iraqi government.

ISIL isn’t a unified force in Iraq, Dempsey said, but rather is a syndicate of several disenfranchised Sunni groups willing to work with ISIL “because they’re winning.”

“When you are disenfranchised and believing that the government in Baghdad will never be inclusive and never allow you to be part of the government, you’ll back a winner until that winner is contained,” the chairman said.

The collapse of the Iraqi military is representative of this disenfranchisement, he said. They were overcome because their soldiers concluded that their future did not lie with the government in Baghdad, Dempsey said.

“Look, why do any of us in uniform stand and fight?” he asked. “You know, it’s not just because were wear the uniform. We stand and fight because we believe in what we stand and fight for. … If we were ever placed in a position where you didn’t believe what you were fighting for, you know, you wouldn’t see the kind of military you have in the United States today.”

The problem of ISIL isn’t isolated to Iraq, he said. The border between Iraq and Syria has ceased to exist, Dempsey explained. In addition, Turkey and the Kurds in northern Iraq are uniquely positioned to pressure ISIL, he noted.

“It has to be a partnership, a coalition, and we have to build partners who can reject it from inside out,” the chairman said.

“The immediate task is to determine whether Iraq has a political future, because if Iraq has a political future, then we will work through Iraq, among others, to deal with the ISIL threat,” Dempsey said. “If Iraq does not have a political future as an inclusive unity government, then we’re going to have to find other partners.”

(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews)

Reader Comments
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  • Lydia says:
    I pray that something must be done to stop this president from doing his will not the will of the people. He took an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States and you also took an oath to protect our country.
    Posted on Aug 03, 2014 | 04:00:43 PM ET
    horizonatal rule
  • Ken says:
    We beg of you to remove all the traitors that have infiltrated the government of America.... America is dying ........... in the name of God , please arrest all traitors ...
    Posted on Jul 30, 2014 | 10:26:17 AM ET
    horizonatal rule
  • Diane Doyle says:
    I fell the same way! The only thing that can possibly help us is if the military steps in. You have the power to arrest the president . Please help us take back our country before Obama destroys it completely.
    Posted on Jul 30, 2014 | 08:15:52 AM ET
    horizonatal rule
  • Rachael Lucia says:
    Looks like its the only and right way to remove the evil ,,I'm disgusted the Military have been so cowardly and no good men at the top to see that the evil one was taken out the Illegal one the one who absolutely has shown only contempt for America and the American people Impeachement is too good for likes of that horrendous evil one ,,the list of evil crimes are endless..its just beyondo and the treachery ,,why this is being tolerated by the Military and Congress ..they are Lazy Cowards who have been set up blackmailed paid off conn men ..they cant be good if they allow this ,,
    Posted on Jul 29, 2014 | 09:16:25 PM ET
    horizonatal rule
  • Debra Ross says:
    Please arrest Obama & his terrorist cronies. Our country needs your help!
    Posted on Jul 29, 2014 | 08:32:03 PM ET
    horizonatal rule
  • MArk says:
    General, Its time one of you step up to the Plate and take this country back from the treacherous politicians that are bringing this country to its lowest point for their own Agendas. You have the backing of America!
    Posted on Jul 29, 2014 | 06:47:12 PM ET
    horizonatal rule
  • Silence514 says:
    Generals...Thank you ALL for your Service and God Bless You !!...

    America is in a really bad place..its worse than I've ever seen it.

    Before my Father Died he said to me that life in America is going to get very, very bad and that I should stay close to my husband who is a United States Marine. Its as if my Father had a premonition , he explained it all to me...before Obama was even elected....

    My Parents were Immigrants from Poland and Russia and they came here LEGALLY after WWII with nothing but dirty diapers and those were stolen in NY but they worked hard and continued on with NO WELFARE and they LOVED AMERICA with everything they had...They never missed a day of work and Died with the strong PRIDE that they made it THEIR WAY...and they were able thru hard work to give all of their 5 children better lives...

    But Now...I'm first Generation American and I'm PRAYING that the Military will HELP OUR COUNTRY you are our last hope.......We in the USA are suffering irreparable damage at the hands of Barack Hussein Obama or whoever he is and I feel that we as a Nation can not continue in this direction any longer its just not possible for us to continue and still survive....Americans are so weary. Everything Obama does seems to hurt our Nation more and more with actions that are clearly NOT meant to HELP AMERICANS or AMERICA...I'm tired of talking about what will happen and I decided to reach out to you and ask for your help..I'm just a simple housewife, I don't have an agenda other than to do what I an to Save our Country and I felt like this was a good time to speak with you.

    The President is unnecessarily bleeding our Country dry giving money on a open spiket free flow basis to every communist/socialist and terrorist nation/people that there is and for what..these Countries still keep trying to hurt us, and they aren't any better off, so I have to ask what are they doing with all the money and arms we give away ?? It makes no sense, I realize we have to help some Nations like Israel but Obama is funneling money and cash thru Qatar thru to the Palestinian Hamas groups who are bombing Israel...what is the matter with him...He just doesn't have American principles or ethics and his staff is just as bad.....Obama has done nothing to strengthen our Great Nation. And to leave a Fellow Marine in a Mexican Jail for taking a wrong turn when half of Central America is freely flooding our boards and Mexican helicopters are Firing on our Border Agents is just beyond words just CONTINUES and NO ONE is STOPPING IT...I even joke and say send a few of us American Housewives over there and we'll show you how to stop this craziness in 2 days or less we'd have it handled with just a little common sense and by using the laws we already have on our books...Yet Obama can't seem to handle it..I feel its more like he doesn't WANT to handle it....

    I'm not a religious zealot or a Far Right Wing Person....I'm just a Middle of the Road American that is scared when I see what is happening here in the USA..I can't go to the Doctor without being made to feel like a drug addict if I need a pain pill for my arthritis. Yesterday I bought Toilet Tissue at the drug store and they took every bit of info off my driver license and put it into their "gov't database" and I was paying cash...

    And last night I watched John Stossel's show about SWAT TEAMS breaking peoples doors down with out notice in the middle of the night waking them from their beds that you feel would be your last refuge and caccoon with guns drawn and in their face...I'd have a heart attack if that happened to me and if they shot my two babies (I have 2 dogs) I would just go crazy, it would kill me.

    Our homes are our final place of safety those that have been able to save their homes from Foreclosure now have another thing to worry about, Gangs and Mistaken SWAT Attacks...
    I worry what is I maybe asking for the wrong medication at the drug store or from the doctor that they are going to target ME ? Gosh the toilet paper incident was enough to worry me...what is happening all around us I don't understand all I know is ...Where is our peace of mind..where are our Constitutional Rights and our Privacy..that YOU Great MEN have fought to preserve for us all these years....where is the life my 2 brothers fought for in the 101st Airborne and the 82nd Airborne in Vietnam...where is the life my Nephew just fought for in the USMC in Iraq, for that matter whats happening in Iraq with ISIS who Obama is believed by many to be funding through Syria. How could we let all those beautiful young people that lay dead right now fighting in these Wars all be for naught...WE ARE AMERICA. How can we allow this to go on, one more day ??...and how will we EVER be able to hold on another 2 YEARS with this (at the very least) Incompetent President and (at most) Terrorist President continue for another 2 years..

    WHY hasn't any of our Gov't Officials or the Military stepped in to Stop this Rogue President in the White House and his Terrorist Regime....we are begging you to ACT...PLEASE DO SOMETHING TO HELP US....We can't TAKE IT ANYMORE...I know I speak for many many Americans when I say...TEASON should be the least of his worries...

    PLEASE SAVE OUR COUNTRY General BEFORE ITS TOO LATE !! Thank You for reading, please just think about it...and I'll watch for your kind action.
    Posted on Jul 27, 2014 | 06:11:00 PM ET
    horizonatal rule
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