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After meeting with military leaders today at the Pentagon, President Obama held a brief press conference on his administration’s ISIS policy. With head hung low and slumped shoulders, a graying Obama breezed through a statement that raised more questions than clarified America’s strategy:
OBAMA: This broader challenge of countering violent extremism is not simply a military effort. Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas and more attractive and more compelling vision. So the United States will continue to do our part by continuing to counter ISIL’s hateful propaganda, especially online. We’ll constantly reaffirm through words and deeds that we will never be at war with Islam. We are fighting terrorists who distort Islam and its victims are mostly Muslims.
We’re also going to partner with Muslim communities as they seek the prosperity and dignity they observe. And we’re going to expect those communities to step up in terms of pushing back as hard as they can in conjunction with other people of good will against these hateful ideologies, particularly when it comes to what we’re teaching young people.
Were they still around, Hitler, Saddam and Pol Pot would disagree that ideologies aren’t defeated with guns (Mussolini would add that a rope works too). Yet Obama continues to peddle the silly progressive fantasy that terrorists can be defeated by a particularly clever TED talk. Even presidential pal Bill Ayers favored tossing a bomb every so often; perhaps if lefty bombmakers would target our enemies instead of our troops, we could drop a few Weathermen cells in the Middle East.
Since Obama thinks this latest statement will buy him some time, let’s look back at his history on the Islamic State to better assess our progress in rolling back the barbaric tide.
“I think the analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.” Two days later, ISIS took Fallujah.
After tens of thousands of Yazidis are trapped and starving: “I’ve, therefore, authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there. Already, American aircraft have begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help these desperate men, women and children survive… As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.”
After James Foley and Steven Sotloff are beheaded: “Our objective is clear: We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”
After Kayla Mueller is killed: “With our allies and partners, we are going to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group… Today, my administration submitted a draft resolution to Congress to authorize the use of force against ISIL.”
When asked at the G7 Summit about the progress of his anti-ISIS efforts: “When a finalized plan is presented to me by the Pentagon, then I will share it with the American people. We don’t yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis, as well, about how recruitment takes place, how that training takes place. And so the details of that are not yet worked out.”
“Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they are defeated by better ideas and more attractive and more compelling vision. So the United States will continue to do our part by continuing to counter ISIL’s hateful propaganda, especially online.”
It is obvious that President Obama has no clear strategy to defeat or degrade ISIS, but is instead attempting to run out the clock so he can leave this nightmare for his successor to deal with. Obama entered office with a To-Do List and, in his mind, he checked off the “End War in Iraq” box back in 2011. So he will dither and dance for the next year and a half instead of reassessing his juvenile understanding of geopolitics. Whenever ISIS has a military victory or lops off a few heads, he will issue a tepid non-statement to get the press off his back for another couple of months.
In the meantime, the Middle East will continue to bleed and the western capitals will continue to shudder.