Anne-Marie Slaughter on Obama’s failure to recognize ISIS extremism by Nina Easton @FortuneMagazine October 17, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons I spoke with Anne-Marie Slaughter, Hillary Clinton’s former policy director who now heads the New America Foundation, at last week’s Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, where she warned that the spread of ISIS, combined with civil war in Syria, is setting off the equivalent of the 17th century Thirty Years War, “which decimated one-third of Europe’s population.”The alarming assessment of this former Princeton dean echoes that of another top Obama official, former CIA and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who last week said Americans should be prepared for a “30-year” war with the terrorist ISIS. Both Slaughter and Panetta have criticized the White House for failing to intervene in Syria—the birthplace of ISIS—nearly three years ago.“This White House refused to recognize both the spreading and fueling of extremism,” she told me. “It was evident that unless we intervened it was just going to spread. But the White House did not want to get involved in another Middle East war so we effectively limited our assistance to humanitarian aid on the side.”Slaughter says the U.S. should continue attacks on ISIS from the air, rather than deploying troops on the ground. “ISIL [also known as ISIS] wants images of U.S. troops again knocking down villages. That’s how they recruit—[calling] the United States the great enemy against Islam.”In the complicated web of that widening conflict, she also called on the Obama administration to defang Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad—an ISIS enemy—by using the U.S. military to destroy his air force. “The Syrian government has massacred 200,000 people,” she said. “I wouldn’t go to war with him but [say to him] we are going to bomb your air force to stop you from dropping barrel bombs on your people.”Slaughter also offered advice on dealing with another autocrat—Russian President Vladmir Putin. The U.S., she said, should isolate him by appealing directly to the Russian people, who –under the spell of an effective propaganda campaign — have rallied behind Putin and his aggressions in Ukraine.“You really have to react more positively to the Russian people, using the media, [finding] ways of saying, ‘Look this is not Russia against the West. You’ve got a leader that is leading you to economic disruption and poverty for a long time to come.”’ “From the MPW Co-chairs” is a daily series where the editors who oversee the Fortune Most Powerful Women brand share their insights about women leaders.