President Obama Compared the Islamic State to the Joker in Strategy Meetings

Wednesday, 16 March 2016 - 11:26AM
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Wednesday, 16 March 2016 - 11:26AM
President Obama Compared the Islamic State to the Joker in Strategy Meetings
Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight has often been analyzed for its parallels to post-9/11 America, particularly in regards to widespread surveillance and the use of torture as an interrogation tactic. But as it turns out, the President of the United States used the film for a very different analogy, which compared ISIS to Heath Ledger's Joker.

In a new interview with The Atlantic, President Obama stated that as late as 2014, advisers were telling him that ISIS was of "marginal importance." But after ISIS took over the Iraqi city of Mosul, he realized that the Islamic State's acts of terrorism couldn't be ignored. He started telling his advisers in strategy meetings that US intelligence had gravely underestimated the threat ISIS posed, and that defeating ISIS was of utmost importance, even more urgent than overthrowing Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad. 

Interestingly, he would reportedly use a very specific scene from The Dark Knight to illustrate this opinion:

Opening quote
Advisers recall that Obama would cite a pivotal moment in The Dark Knight, the 2008 Batman movie, to help explain not only how he understood the role of isis, but how he understood the larger ecosystem in which it grew. "There's a scene in the beginning in which the gang leaders of Gotham are meeting," the president would say. "These are men who had the city divided up. They were thugs, but there was a kind of order. Everyone had his turf. And then the Joker comes in and lights the whole city on fire. isil is the Joker. It has the capacity to set the whole region on fire. That's why we have to fight it."
Closing quote

Although ISIS is a much more complex threat than just one man, no matter how evil he might be, it makes some sense to use the Joker as a broad stand-in for terrorists. As POTUS said, both terrorist groups and the Joker are adept at stirring up chaos and--yes--terrorizing communities and nations. We wouldn't necessarily have felt comfortable actually making this comparison, but if the President does it, then it's okay.

Via Comicbook.com

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