You can save your breath, frantic Obama apologists. There is no way to spin the unmitigated disaster of this hapless President toddling to the podium yesterday and announcing to the world that he doesn’t have a strategy for defeating ISIS yet. The pants-wetting terror that immediately gripped everyone in the White House, and every dead-ender Obama-worshiping pundit, tells the true tale of how epic a blunder this was.
It wasn’t just a “gaffe.” It was nothing less than Barack Obama conceding victory to ISIS in Round One of the new great war. Get it through your skulls, kids: the President of the United States just ratified the existence of the Islamic State, admitted they’re going to get away with murdering American hostages, and threw in the towel on any hope of reversing their invasion of Iraq. He just told the enemy, which most certainly does have strategies and is not shy about advertising them, that they have the initiative. They’re calling the shots. The Golfer-in-Chief is still reacting, spinning, and fidgeting like a little kid stuck in detention, because he really wants to get back to the fun stuff – like handing out amnesty to illegal aliens, maneuvering unconstitutional “climate change” treaties past Congress, picking fights with his domestic political opponents, raising money for his Party, and hanging out with his fawning admirers in the press corps. He’s really bummed out that he has to keep dealing with head-chopping terrorists and Russians who like to go for joyrides in armored fighting vehicles.
Watch the visibly stunned folks at CNN wonder what three-dimensional chess game Obama might have been playing by telling the enemy he’s got no plans to defeat them:
Let me help you out, CNN folks: the problem here is not a lack of strategic planning at the Pentagon. The problem is political – the howling void of leadership at the White House. The Pentagon has plans for defeating ISIS. It has plans for defeating just about everyone tucked in electronic filing cabinets, but rest assured the ISIS plans are spread out on the table at the moment. The problem is that Obama doesn’t want to take responsibility for any of them. His primary concern is the political damage he and his Party will suffer if his Bush-hating kook base has to watch him commit American ground forces to combat in Iraq. He won’t do that until ISIS hits us harder, and leaves him with no choice.
Once again: the enemy has the initiative. They already knew that, but it’s profoundly unhelpful to have the President of the United States admit it to the entire world in a press conference.
When Obama wants to do something, he’s got his huge staff of retainers working through the night to hammer out elaborate strategies. There’s nothing but political cost involved in fighting ISIS, especially since the intelligence community is looking pretty dour about the possibility of using a few airstrikes to back up proxies – the Iraqi army, the “moderate” Syrian rebels, the Kurds – while they mop up the Islamic State for us. Notice how Obama rambled on about how he’s willing to order a few zero-risk bombings here and there, when the “opportunity presents itself” (a hilarious way to describe how globally-tramsitted footage of an impending genocide finally brought Obama off the links to do something.)
That seems like a far cry from the big speech he gave after his good friend “Jim” Foley was murdered on video, a speech where he spoke in terms of erasing the Islamic State from history, blowing them out of a 21st Century in which they have no place. But remember, all of Obama’s ostensible “anger” in that speech was passive. He thinks the caliphate will implode on its own, or be wiped out by its enemies, perhaps with a little American support. His comments on Thursday were the ultimate humiliation of the Obama supporters who insisted he gave a magnificent speech after Foley’s killing. Like hell he did. He didn’t put an enemy on notice and seize the initiative against them. He punted. And he just told the world he’ll punt again, if the enemy lets him have the ball back.
Josh Rogin at the Daily Beast writes about the behind-the-scenes drama that led to Obama’s astounding declaration of non-strategy:
After a week of talk of eliminating the “cancer” of ISIS, President Obama said Thursday that he was not planning to significantly expand the war against the Islamic extremist movement anytime soon.
His remarks came after days of heated debate inside the top levels of his own national security bureaucracy about how, where, and whether to strike ISIS in Syria. But those deliberations ??? which included a bleak intelligence assessment of America’s potential allies in Syria — failed to produce a consensus battle plan. And so Obama, who has long been reluctant to enter into the Syrian conflict, told reporters Thursday that ???we don???t have a strategy yet??? for confronting ISIS on a regional level.
Those inside the administration advocating for going after ISIS in both Iraq and Syria were sorely disappointed ??? and lamented their boss’s lack of urgency in rooting out a threat that only days before was being described in near-apocalyptic terms.
???Senior strategists in the U.S. government have been working hard all week to gather multiple options that the president had asked for to strike ISIS in Syria. There was a deep rooted belief among many — especially among military circles — that the ISIS threat can???t be kicked down the road, that it needs to be confronted now, and in a holistic way,??? said one Obama administration official who works on the Middle East. ???This press conference is going to lead to even more doubt by those that thought that this White House was ready to take meaningful action against ISIS across the board.???
Oh, I don’t know about that, unnamed Obama Administration official. I don’t think anyone really has any more doubts about whether this White House is going to take “meaningful action against ISIS across the board.” The terror state Obama permitted to take root in Iraq is well-equipped, well-funded, and highly effective on the battlefield, thanks to a combination of combat experience in Syria and tactical support from former officers in Saddam Hussein’s military who have joined up. (Imagine what ISIS would be like if Saddam was still in power, and could put the full might of his military and economy behind their efforts.) This is the most battlefield-capable jihadi force ever assembled. That’s why serious planners are throwing cold water on the idea of trashing them with a local military coalition and modest American air power. The “moderate” Syrian rebels have no appetite for abandoning their fight against Bashar Assad to serve as Obama’s foot soldiers; their leaders have openly stated they don’t trust American leadership. The Iraqi army hasn’t evolved into a force that can beat ISIS yet, if it ever will. The Kurds are serious players, but they’re understandably more interested in defending their home ground than launching an invasion.
The fourth potential proxy against ISIS is Bashar Assad himself, and he’s got rather obvious reasons to place little value on Obama bluster about red lines and the “wrong side of history.” None of those potential proxies is going to be inspired by the spectacle of Obama dressing up like a Century 21 realty agent and giving a speech where he admits he doesn’t have a plan for victory. Assad would like ISIS out of Syria, to be sure, but it’s debatable how urgently he wants them gone, since they serve the useful function of keeping his regime’s opponents divided, and supporters grateful for his protection.
The only strategy Obama was willing to accept – helping other people wipe out the Islamic State – appears to be a non-starter, so he’s going to roll the dice and hope the enemy doesn’t do anything that would force him to act. They win the first battle against Obama walking away; arguably they won on the day he recklessly pulled American forces out of Iraq and refused to heed warnings that a dangerous new enemy was coming across the border, a moment when American air power very well might have prevented the Islamic State from taking root. As much as anything else, Thursday’s press conference was Obama telling the enemy they can have the field for now, as long as they don’t back him into a corner. In the weeks to come, we’ll learn if they want to shove him into that corner anyway.
Update: The United Kingdom is elevating its defensive posture and warning of a “severe” terror threat this morning. Hopefully the terrorists will have the good manners to hold off on doing anything until Barack Obama wraps up his fundraisers of the day.
Update: I’d suggest modifying the Obama Excuse-o-Meter to say that if the spinner lands on a black line, it means “No strategy.”