Richard Stengel, who left his job as managing editor of TIME magazine in 2013 to become Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Obama administration, said ISIS conquering land is an "opportunity" because "it's easier to combat people holding land and trying to government it than it is to combat people who are non-state actors."
Stengel also said ISIS is not invincible and stated the State Department is fighting the radical Islamic group using social media. Stengel said while ISIS does "60,000 to 90,000 pieces of social media a day," Justin Bieber gets a million "retweets."
"We are trying to counteract them and one of the things that I say is they are not invincible on the battle field and they are not invincible in the information battle field," Stengel said in an appearance on Thursday's broadcast of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports. "What I also tell people is while they are doing 90,000 pieces of social media a day, Justin Bieber gets retweeted a million times a day."
Stengel also responded to those who say the White House summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) is another case of the president being "politically correct." He also reacted to former NYC Mayor Rudy Giualiani's comment that President Obama does not love America.
Stengel called Obama "an American exceptionalist with a slightly different attitude."
"He's an American exceptionalist but with a slightly different attitude," Stengel said. "What he said this morning is our job is not to tell you what to do, our job is to be your partner. That's a different vision of American power in the world and that is the vision for American power in the 21st century."
RICHARD STENGEL, STATE DEPARTMENT: We are trying to counteract them and one of the things that I say is they are not invincible on the battle field and they are not invincible in the information battle field. I think we were a little surprised about how adaptive they were, how sophisticated they were in online media. We estimate that they do 60,000 to 90,000 pieces of social media a day, which is much larger than what we do. We're trying to increase volume by aggregating content across government, among our partners, creating this new entity which the president mentioned today and its new head who we put in, Rashad Hussain, who presents a different face of the world messaging. But, what I also tell people is while they are doing 90,000 pieces of social media a day, Justin Bieber gets retweeted a million times a day...
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC: Well, at the same time, we see them now in Libya, having enough territorial space, having co-opted if you will, some of the militias that were already there fighting in what has become a civil war since the overthrow of Gaddafi and enough space to execute 21 Christians. We see them now in the Sinai. I just interviewed Foreign Minister [Sameh] Shoukry from Egypt yesterday.
They are spreading out and they were five miles from a base in northern Iraq where there are hundreds of Marines advising Iraqi troops and five miles away they've taken over al-Baghdadi and supposedly, allegedly according to Iraqi officials, burned to death, 48 people.
STENGEL: Well, what I would say about that, and I'm not a general or a military person but one of the differences between ISIL or Daesh as we prefer to call them than al Qaeda is al Qaeda was a non-state actor. They weren't trying to accumulate land or accumulate territory. The fact that ISIL or Daesh is trying to conquer land, trying to manage it is actually an opportunity. You know, as a military force, it's easier to combat people who are holding land and trying to govern it than it is to combat people who are non-state actors. So I think that's an opportunity.
MITCHELL: And I wanted to ask you about the controversy, critics saying that the president is being politically correct, he is parsing his words, not calling the Muslim extremism what it is and not calling it out. How do you respond to that?
STENGEL: Well, I would say all members of ISIL are violent extremists but not all extremists are members of ISIL. It's pretty simple. The conference, the summit is about more than ISIL even though ISIL right now is the most acute problem, which by the way, the president reflects, the secretary reflects, I mean the secretary talked about combatting violent extremism as this generation's greatest challenge and of course the biggest part of that is ISIL.
MITCHELL: And I know you don't do politics, you're in the diplomatic sphere now, but I have to ask you about a prominent critic, seizing on this criticism of this summit, Rudy Giuliani last night at a Republican gathering said, "I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but i do not believe the president loves America. He doesn't love you and he doesn't love me. He wasn't brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country." What do you say to that?
STENGEL: Well, I'm just sorry to hear that. I find it wrong in every possible way that it could be wrong. I think the president loves the country in an extraordinary way. He's an american exceptionalist but with a slightly different attitude. What he said this morning is our job is not to tell you what to do, our job is to be your partner. That's a different vision of American power in the world and that is the vision for American power in the 21st century.