Obama plan for Islamic State: ‘It will be up to the next administration,’ source tells Daily Beast

Islamic State group APIt’s been a rough couple of weeks for the Obama administration. The Islamic State group took control of Palmyra in Syria and Ramadi in Iraq. With each passing day the White House’s objective to “degrade and destroy” the Sunni terrorist group sounds more delusional, which begs the question: What the heck is going on?

According to multiple security officials who spoke with the Daily Beast, the White House’s primary goal is just to pass the baton to the next guy.

Senior national security correspondent Nancy Youssef reported Friday:

The self-proclaimed Islamic State has claimed a major provincial capital in Iraq and taken over another strategically key city in Syria. In response, the Obama administration plans to do—well, not much of anything new.

Four defense officials told The Daily Beast that there’s still strong resistance within the Obama administration to making any serious changes to the current strategy for fighting ISIS—despite mounting skepticism from some in the Pentagon about the current U.S. approach to the war.

Although the Obama administration’s public messaging is that it still wants to “degrade and ultimately defeat” ISIS, in reality, many in the Pentagon view the real objective as just running out the clock.

“I think this is driven by a sense that this not our fight and so we are just going to try to contain it and have influence where we can,” one official who works closely on the military strategy explained to The Daily Beast. “This is a long fight, and it will be up to the next administration to tackle.”

Rather than aiming for a decisive victory, the U.S. approach has devolved into simply maintaining a low boil in perpetuity. …

“It’s a political response,” one official explained. “They are doing ‘something’ to inoculate themselves from substantial criticism.”

There is a word to describe the president’s foreign policy right now: terrifying.

Mr. Obama is moving pieces around the global chess board, but he has no idea what he is doing and only hopes that he can survive long enough for someone else to take his seat at the table. The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner (he was nominated less than two weeks after he took office) is piddling around playing politics while a terrorist group is using truck bombs that can take out entire city blocks to gain territory. Meanwhile, the media takes up multiple news cycles discussing the sick details of Josh Duggar’s past — elevating the criminal behavior of a TLC reality show star above an army of Islamic radicals that controls most of Syria and large swathes of Iraq.

Say what you will about former President George W. Bush, but the man didn’t give a rip about political repercussions when he ordered the surge in 2007. While Senator Harry Reid was literally surrendering on live television, Mr. Bush essentially told the military to do whatever it needed to do to stabilize Iraq before he left office — and it delivered. When Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno looked at Iraq prior to U.S. troops leaving in 2011, he saw a country that was incredibly fragile, but he was optimistic about the future.

Military Times reported Friday:

Odierno said he was most optimistic about Iraq’s future in September 2010, as he prepared to relinquish command of U.S. forces in theater.

“I felt very good about Iraq, and I felt we were absolutely on the right track,” he said.

But Iraq’s leaders have not been able to overcome the mistrust they have between the different sects, he said.

“It’s incredibly disappointing to me, personally, what I’ve watched happen,” he said. “I really believed, at that time [in 2010], that in five years or so, Iraq would be doing very well. But, frankly, they fractured.”

Sadly, Mr. Obama does not have the backbone of George W. Bush or the honor to fall on his political sword if it will set future presidents — and by extension America — up for success.

2016 cannot come soon enough.

Obama hands AP image

Islamic State: Well-funded terror group at an ‘entirely different level than al Qaeda’

James Foley Islamic StateThis weekend I met up for breakfast with a friend. He asked me to sum up my thoughts on the Islamic State group. Like most Americans, he’s a busy guy. He’s running around trying to grow a business and he doesn’t have time to be researching radical Islamic terrorist organizations. The short answer to the question, “Should we be concerned?” is “Yes.”

The succinct version of what I told my friend over blueberry waffles is this: The Islamic State group is well-organized, well-funded, and it is training Americans and Europeans on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. At this point the absence of a terrorist attack seems to be more of a strategic decision on its leadership’s part than on an inability to make it happen.

Below are excerpts from four recent news stories that highlight my point:

Cicero Magazine reported Feb. 4:

ISIS is officially the richest terrorist group in existence. Through its illicit oil sales–worth between $1 million and $2 million a day—as well as kidnapping and extortion networks, robbery, front companies, racketeering, and outside donations, the group has amassed a $2 billion fortune.

Fox News reported Feb. 7:

Six Bosnian natives who immigrated to the U.S. sent money and military equipment to support Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State terror group, the Justice Department said Friday night.

The suspects sent multiple payments using PayPal, as well as U.S. military uniforms, combat boots, tactical clothing and gear, military surplus goods, firearms accessories, rifle scopes and first aid supplies to Turkey.

ABC News reported Feb. 8:

The retired Marine Corps general at the forefront of the U.S.-led coalition in the fight against ISIS told ABC News in an exclusive interview that the terror group “is at an entirely different level than al Qaeda was.”

ISIS is “better organized [than al Qaeda]. It’s command and control is better,” John Allen, the Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, told ABC News.

When asked whether ISIS is a threat to the home front, Allen said “we should take it very seriously.”

CNN reported Feb. 8:

Jeh Johnson: “The numbers that we see are larger in European countries, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re concerned about travel to and from Europe and making sure we’ve got the appropriate security assurances from countries from which we do not require a visa. But here at home we do a pretty good job of tracking these individuals. And we have in a number of instances arrested people for material support, for attempting to travel to Syria, for example.”

Again: The Islamic State group is well-funded, well-organized, and composed of plenty of Americans and Europeans who are willing to do its bidding.

Put yourself in the shoes of a member of al Qaeda or Islamic State for a moment, even if it’s uncomfortable.

  • Yemen’s former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour literally quit on the job when radicals took over the presidential palace.
  • Libya is a free for all.
  • Iraq and Syria are dangerous places, but provide plenty of safe havens from which to operate.
  • The U.S. doesn’t know what it wants to do in Afghanistan and has its hands full with Iran.
  • Pakistan’s lawless regions are still just as lawless as ever.

Why would you risk a spectacular attack on U.S. soil that could result in the election of strong national security-focused president when you could just lie low, consolidate your gains in the region, and hope that another iteration of President Obama wins in 2016? You wouldn’t.

It seems much more likely that Islamic State will publicly cheer on any “lone wolf” attacks that may occur in the U.S. in the next few years while privately amassing more wealth and allocating resources to grow its nascent caliphate in the Middle East.

As I told my friend: the Islamic State group isn’t just some boogeyman. It’s a real organization and a threat to America’s national security interests around the globe. While guys like us shouldn’t stop meeting for breakfast to enjoy blueberry waffles, we also shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security.

Obama now linked to ‘Operation Inherent Resolve’ — or was that ‘Inherently Flawed’?

Obama APThe Obama administration has, at long last, a name for U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State group: Operation Inherent Resolve. It needed to come kicking and screaming to the table, but the name now stands.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday:

WASHINGTON (AP) — It’s less punchy than previous nicknames for U.S. conflicts in the Middle East — remember Operation Desert Storm and its thunderous attacks against Saddam Hussein? — but the Pentagon has finally named its fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria: Operation Inherent Resolve.

The naming, which took weeks of deliberation behind closed doors at U.S. Central Command and at the Pentagon, is part of an effort to organize a long-term military campaign.

Personally, I was hoping the White House would go with Operation Kobe Bryant, but that didn’t happen.

Just days ago I said: “The logic seems to be that if President Obama can just eek out two years without naming operations in Iraq and Syria, then perhaps the never-ending mudslide of time will have an easier job of washing it all away…” Little did I know that the Wall Street Journal talked to military officials on Oct. 3, who conveyed that very same message.

Here is what the Journal’s Julian E. Barnes found out while writing ‘Operation Name-That-Mission: The Hunt for Military Monikers’:

“The delay over naming the Iraq and Syria mission has led some to suggest politics is at play. The latest war, some officials said, is one the Obama administration didn’t seek or eagerly embrace. ‘If you name it, you own it,’ said a defense official. “And they don’t want to own it.”

The Obama administration now owns “it” — whatever that “it” is. For months now the non-strategy of a strategy has seemed to be “No boots on the ground!”, which may be why U.S. officials are trying to spin Islamic State’s push towards Baghdad into “strategic momentum” for its coalition.

Politico reported Tuesday:

The terrorists of the Islamic State have “tactical momentum on several fronts,” but the U.S. and its allies believe they have “strategic momentum,” the nations’ defense chiefs agreed Tuesday.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and 21 of his senior counterparts from the coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also agreed that ISIL has been dangerously effective in its propaganda war, a military official said, and the allies must do more to counter it.

When one reads the news they must always be on the lookout for strange euphemisms, diplo-babble, and legerdemain lexical wizardry from officials. The use of “strategic momentum” certainly qualifies when they speak on operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. When one wants to hear what is really going on, that individual should pay more attention to guys like Gen. Ray Odierno, who are regarded as straight shooters.

The Hill reported Monday:

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said Monday he is “somewhat” confident that the Iraqi army can defend Baghdad from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“I believe the capability is there to defend Baghdad. … But we’ll have to see what plays out over the coming days,” he told reporters at the Association of the United States Army on Monday.

Defense officials are urging patience with the U.S. strategy against ISIS, even as the group makes gains in western Iraq and on the Syrian border town of Kobani.

ISIS appears to be advancing closer and closer to Baghdad, however, where at least several hundred American troops and civilians are stationed.

If the U.S. is only “somewhat” confident in the 60,000 Iraqi troops tasked with protecting Baghdad, then it is hard to see how officials can say the coalition has any kind of momentum. Regardless, it is clear that the Obama administration is going to need an extraordinary level of “resolve” to make Operation Inherent Resolve a success. Right now, however, it appears to think that dropping bombs for a couple years will buy it enough time to pass the baton to the next president.

Remember: The more a U.S. official sounds like he’s been getting his talking points from the Ministry of Truth, the more closely you have to pay attention to what he is saying. Then, and only then, will you have a chance at discerning what he honestly believes.

Gen. Dempsey looks like tired and dejected man as he talks about no-name fight against Islamic State

Martin Dempsey ABC screenshotIf you’re wondering why U.S. military personnel heading to West Africa to help stem the tide of Ebola are taking part in Operation United Assistance, and the troops heading to the Middle East to fight the Islamic State group are still taking part in a no-name operation, just watch ABC News’ recent interview with Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Listen to his tone. Look at his face. Take note of his delivery. You will see a tired and dejected man who wants to crawl into a corner and stay there for weeks because he knows that he has been given a task from his worst nightmares.

ABC News reported Oct. 7 on the Islamic State group’s advances into the Syrian city of Kobani:

Martha Raddatz: What are you hearing? What are you seeing?

Gen. Dempsey: Well, it may be about to fall. The ISIL fighters have been putting pressure on the outskirts of the city and in fact into the city itself. And in fact I just got off the phone with my Turkish counterpart about it.

Martha Raddatz: And what did they say?

Gen. Dempsey: Well, they are obviously tracking it just like we are. They’ve got forces on their side of the border that will prevent ISIL from making any incursions into Turkey, but of course ISIL is smart enough not to do that. I am fearful that Kobani will fall. We have been striking when we can. ISIL is a learning enemy and they know how to maneuver  and how to use populations and concealment, and so when we get a target we will take it.

Martha Raddatz: And when you talk about ISIL and ISIS blending into the population, what are you seeing? How are they doing that?

Gen. Dempsey:  They’re becoming more savvy with the use of electronic devices. They don’t fly flags and move around in large convoys the way the did. They don’t establish headquarters that are visible or identifiable. There are ways that over time we can learn about them as they adapt, but they are changing.

Martha Raddatz: How serious is it if Kobani falls? I think the Kurdish intelligence official was quoted as saying “A terrible slaughter is coming. If they take this city we should expect to have 5,000 dead within 24 or 36 hours.”

Gen. Dempsey:“We think that most of the residents have actually fled. Whether there are still 5,000 people there or not is a matter of conjecture at this point. I have no doubt that ISIL will conduct the same kind of horrific atrocities if they have the opportunity to do so.”

If you have a roach problem, and all you do is spray some insecticide on the critters every time they crawl across the kitchen floor, then you will always have a roach problem. In fact, they will continue breeding in the walls of your home. Slowly but surely they will make your home their home, and they will continue to do so until you are prepared to seriously deal with the problem. Likewise, random airstrikes on the Islamic State group each week will not root out the terrorist organization from its well-entrenched positions in Iraq and Syria.

Retired Lt. Gen. David Barno accurately explained the situation in late September:

“The effects of airstrikes and Tomahawk strikes … are not enduring: They’re transient and as soon as the last bomb falls, the enemy begins to rebuild and readjust. In many, many ways, it’s very difficult to achieve lasting effects and consolidate any kind of success without having some kind of force actually make that permanent. It doesn’t have to be American troops.”

Is it any wonder that the fight against Islamic State still does not have a name? What sort of Pentagon official — or president — would want to have their name attached to it at this point? Jimmy Carter will forever be known as the guy who ordered Operation Eagle Claw, and now the logic seems to be that if President Obama can just eek out two years without naming operations in Iraq and Syria, then perhaps the never-ending mudslide of time will have an easier job of washing it all away…

Now that Marine Cpl. Jordan Spears is officially the first military death in President Obama’s no-name operations against the Islamic State group, people will begin to ask what he died for. The price tag (roughly $1 billion for three months of airstrikes) will also put pressure on the Obama administration to name its ongoing military engagement. In time, one would think the White House would be forced to relent, but there should be no mistake as to why the foot-dragging is taking place: no one wants to name their own failures.

Just as the Islamic State group has adjusted to changing conditions on the ground, it is possible for the Obama administration to adopt a winning strategy. Hopefully, men like Gen. Dempsey will repeatedly tell the president what he needs to hear behind the scenes until Mr. Obama listens to reason.

Panetta slams Obama on Iraq: President ignored advice, failed to use leverage to secure SOFA

PanettaFormer Defense Secretary and CIA director Leon Panetta allowed Time magazine to print an excerpt from his new book, “Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace,” and in it he offers a stinging rebuke of the Obama administration’s decision to let a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq slip through its fingers.

Mr. Panetta writes:

Privately, the various leadership factions in Iraq all confided that they wanted some U.S. forces to remain as a bulwark against sectarian violence. But none was willing to take that position publicly, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki concluded that any Status of Forces Agreement, which would give legal protection to those forces, would have to be submitted to the Iraqi parliament for approval. That made reaching agreement very difficult given the internal politics of Iraq, but representatives of the Defense and State departments, with scrutiny from the White House, tried to reach a deal.

We had leverage. We could, for instance, have threatened to withdraw reconstruction aid to Iraq if al-Maliki would not support some sort of continued U.S. military presence. …

Under Secretary of Defense Michèle Flournoy … argued our case, and those on our side viewed the White House as so eager to rid itself of Iraq that it was willing to withdraw rather than lock in arrangements that would preserve our influence and interests.

To my frustration, the White House coordinated the negotiations but never really led them. Officials there seemed content to endorse an agreement if State and Defense could reach one, but without the President’s active advocacy, al-Maliki was allowed to slip away. The deal never materialized. To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al-Qaeda’s resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country.

In short, the guy who billed himself as the diplomat extraordinaire got everyone around the table and said, “How do you guys want to do this? Not sure? Okay. Well, see you later!

While the urge to accuse Mr. Panetta of trying to safeguard his reputation is strong, consider this: President Obama — who flippantly called Islamic State a “J.V. team” as they were gobbling up Iraq — is the type of guy who will go on “60 Minutes” and throw the entire intelligence community under the bus, despite incontrovertible evidence that the intelligence community was ringing the alarm bells in his face.

The Washington Post reported Sept. 30:

Reporters quickly noticed that there were warnings, aired publicly many months ago, about the capabilities and intentions of the Islamic State. Should it really have been a surprise?

The paper goes on to cite warnings from Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran, from Nov. 14, 2013, Gen. Michael Flynn, U.S. Army director, Defense Intelligence Agency, on Feb. 11, 2014, and National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Mike Rogers from Sept. 18, 2014. Then, in true Post fashion, it cannot bring itself to give Mr. Obama a “Pinocchio,” — it went with “Verdict Pending” — despite its own reporting that confirms he lied on national television.

Is the verdict still “pending” now that Mr. Obama’s hand-picked former CIA Director has publicly stated that the president chose to ignore the advice of a gigantic wall of agreement between the military and intelligence communities on Iraq and Syria? The Washington Post’s exercise in doublethink is astounding — it essentially says “This and this and this and this and this prove the president is lying — the president is not lying.”

If you were watching the “60 Minutes” interview and thought, “How does the president get away with this?” look no further than the type of news outlets that resort to some variation of “These are not the drones you are looking for” any time the president’s credibility is truly threatened.

Media that refuse to hold the president accountable are culpable for the consequences of their obfuscation. Every time they write the equivalent of “verdict pending” on the president when it is not, their credibility is corroded. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only victims. Without a free and honest press, the nation hollows itself out from within.

Gen. Mattis on Iraq: I’m not sure why Obama is publicly taking options off the table

James Mattis, Ryan Crocker, Dafna RandThe House Intelligence Committee takes its job very seriously, which is why Ret. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis was called in on Thursday to discuss the U.S. strategy for destroying the Islamic State group. With over four decades of military service under his belt, the general knows a thing or two about combat. Unfortunately, his assessment of how the commander in chief is handling the Middle East conundrum before him is not kind.

The Washington Post reported Thursday:

“You just don’t take anything off the table up front, which it appears the administration has tried to do,” said Mattis, who served as the top U.S. general overseeing operations in the Middle East before leaving military service last year. …

Broadcasting up front an unwillingness to use ground troops in Iraq, despite an expanded mission there, creates problems, both Mattis and [former U.S. diplomat Ryan] Crocker said.

“Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American ‘boots on the ground,’ ” Mattis said. “If a brigade of a our paratroopers or a battalion landing team of our Marines would strengthen our allies at a key juncture and create havoc/humiliation for our adversaries, then we should do what is necessary with our forces that exist for that very purpose.”

While it is quite obvious that there are in fact “boots on the ground” in Iraq (i.e., Special Forces), it makes no sense whatsoever to show up at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Fla., as Mr. Obama did, and assure troops that under no circumstances will they be deployed. It sends the wrong message to allies, it emboldens enemies, and it makes the job of those tasked with securing victory exponentially harder to complete.

If the president was being honest with the American people, then he would sound much more like U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno than a run-of-the-mill politician.

The New York Times reported Wednesday:

Airstrikes have halted the advance of the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, General Odierno, now the Army chief of staff, told journalists from four news organizations, including The New York Times, in what aides said were his first public comments on the current situation in Iraq. Ultimately, though, “you’ve got to have ground forces that are capable of going in and rooting them out,” he said, referring to the Islamic extremists.

The airstrikes “will not be the end all and be all solution in Iraq,” he said. Similarly, he added, the jihadis cannot be allowed to have a safe haven across the border in Syria.

The general was careful not to say that ground troops had to be American, but the fact remains: ground troops will be necessary. If Joe Scarborough was on to something, and his theory that Mr. Obama is actively engaged in next-level “Art of War” strategic planning happened to be correct, Americans could breath a sigh of relief — but he’s not. The cable news host is wrong, and the public comments that multiple generals are making, while tactful, are their way of begging someone — anyone — to get Mr. Obama to listen to reason.

If you are still unconvinced that the president is in over his head, then notice that the White House has not been cornered into answering the following question: Who will govern cities and towns all across Syria when Islamic State is defeated? It is almost as if reporters know that nobody knows the answers to the “Then what?” questions and they don’t want the American people to see just how lost and confused U.S. foreign policy is as the country begins to train and arm “moderate” Syrian rebels (“No, seriously, these are the good guys, we swear!”).

As the situation in Iraq and Syria continues to unfold, look for whatever comments you can from men like Gen. Mattis and Gen. Odierno. Take note of what they’ve been saying, because those who refuse to take their sound advice on how to deal with Islamic State should be taken to task upon the unraveling.

Official: I thought ISIL’s plans were ‘preposterous’ — (Guess who’s back? Back again. Jihad’s back. Tell a friend!)

Michael Crowley

Chief foreign affairs correspondent for Time magazine Michael Crowley had an telling tweet today: “U.S. official says that in the past, ISIS’s agenda has seemed ‘preposterous’ in its ambition — not so much anymore.”

When radical Islamic extremists say they want to kill Americans, they find ways to kill Americans. When radical Islamic extremists say want to create an Islamic caliphate, they actively work around the clock to make that happen. It may take a century or two in their mind, but this many years after September 11, 2001 it is intellectually criminal for policy makers to dismiss their publicly stated plans.

The goals of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have never been “preposterous” — the willful ignorance of U.S. politicians is preposterous. Sadly, even when American-jihadists openly state their intentions to “bring back the caliphate,” as if beheadings and stonings were no different than an Eminem album, the world refuses to take them seriously. (Guess who’s back? Back again. Jihad’s back! Tell a friend.)

Here is a newsflash from Minnesota Public Radio:

Over the past few months, as many as 15 young Somali-American men from the Twin Cities have traveled to Syria to join radical groups trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad’s regime, according to the FBI.

One of the men, Abdirahmaan Muhumed, told MPR News through a series of Facebook messages that he is fighting alongside the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIS, as it is commonly known, captured the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit this week.

“A Muslim has to stand up for [what’s] right,” Muhumed, 29, wrote in a Jan. 2 post. “I give up this worldly life for Allah.” …

Muhumed said in Facebook messages that ISIS is “trying to bring back the khilaafa,” a reference to an Islamic empire. He also said “Allah loves those who fight for his cause.”

Someone is recruiting Twin City terrorists and the FBI doesn’t know the point man. The scary thing is that you probably have friends and family members who aren’t too concerned that 15 Somali-Americans have packed up and headed off to Syria in search of the best terrorist training jihad can buy. Some of these guys will come back to U.S. shores as ISIL “veterans,” and when they do it won’t be pretty.


Al Qaeda AP

I normally don’t like to quote myself, but I will since this is a post about U.S. officials who are shocked at what’s going on in the Middle East:

March 30, 2012: In Bush’s absence, elected losers silent on Afghanistan’s importance

If we return to the pre-9/11 mindset in order to combat Islamic terrorism, then we will have 9/11-type results. It’s really that simple. The delivery vehicle for their terrorism may very well be different, but the body count and subsequent effect on the economy will be the same or worse.

April 26, 2012: Why the West matters: Buried alive in Syria, sex with the dead in Egypt

Western Civilization is something special, but people have a way of taking the special things in their life for granted. For a long time now the United States—and more broadly Western Civilization—has been a beacon of light in a really dark, really weird world. The guys who are burying their countrymen alive and the ones crafting laws that would make it okay to defile a dead body—they play for keeps. If we don’t find our moral compass, speak up, stand up and fight for our culture then they’ll take that too.

They. Play. For. Keeps. That is the bottom line. Unfortunately, American officials refuse to take them at their word because to do so would mean that we would have to show commitment equal to — or greater than — their own to have a fighting chance at stemming the tide.

Here is what Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told U.S. troops only five years ago:

The Islamist extremist some are now calling the most dangerous man in the world had a few parting words to his captors as he was released from the biggest U.S. detention camp in Iraq in 2009.

“He said, ‘I’ll see you guys in New York,’” recalls Army Col. Kenneth King, then the commanding officer of Camp Bucca.

He wasn’t bluffing. He wants to bring terror to the United States, and his ideological friends across the world want to help him. Maybe one or two them will be from Minnesota if we don’t take them seriously.

Obama needs Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to help save him in Iraq, which means he has failed

Syria Obama

As Iraq and Syria are being run over by Islamic radical nut jobs, the “blame Bush” crowd has been rather quiet. Perhaps that’s because it was only a few years ago that Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama administration were casting the relative stability in Iraq as a the next big “great achievement” … for them.

Let us Flash back to Joe Biden in 2010:

“I am very optimistic about — about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government,” said Biden.

“I spent — I’ve been there 17 times now. I go about every two months — three months. I know every one of the major players in all of the segments of that society. It’s impressed me. I’ve been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.”

Now, it’s a complete different story. Business Insider reported Thursday:

Extremists from the al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS have blurred the border to Syria, captured Iraq’s second largest city, and advanced toward the capital. Kurds have taken Kirkuk, an oil-rich city in the northeast that borders Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran is deploying Revolutionary Guard forces to fight ISIS.

And, according to current and former U.S. officials, the administration of President Barack Obama indirectly facilitated the mayhem.

“Top State Department officials long argued that the civil war in Syria was the root cause of ISIS’s rise because it gave them a haven in which to operate and recruit,” Adam Entous and Julian Barnes of The Wall Street Journal report.

For the last two years, the main criticism on Obama’s policy toward Syria has been that the “United States, rather than read the signals early on and arm the Syrian opposition when it was making substantial gains, allowed a vacuum to form and then fretted when that vacuum was filled by jihadists.” …

Obama then left Syria to fester, which eventually led to ISIS consolidating territory across Syria and Iraq while the militants gained experience, lured new recruits, captured weaponry, made territorial advances, indoctrinated Syrian children, and piled up cash.

Where does one start with all of this? This is what happens when the U.S. “leads from behind.” This is what happens when you have a president whose instincts tell him it would be a good idea to speak to graduating West Point cadets less about being leaders and more about Climate Change.

When an American president desperately needs the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to help save the day, you know that he has failed — miserably.

Obama Hashtag diplomacy

America now finds itself in a no-win situation. Essentially, we need a bunch of state-sponsored terrorists to kill a bunch of Sunni terrorists and then hope that the end result somehow results in a safer world for Americans. What are the chances of that happening? At the moment: Slim to none.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday:

Some military officials now believe ISIS is the single greatest terrorist threat the U.S. and its allies face—stronger than the al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen or Africa and far more powerful than al Qaeda’s central leadership in Pakistan. Other senior U.S. officials say ISIS has yet to carry out any attacks directly targeting the U.S.

“It makes you want to kill yourself,” a senior U.S. official said of the intelligence on ISIS, which was presented by U.S. and Gulf allies during the May [security] meeting in Jeddah.

It. Makes. You. Want. To. Kill. Yourself.

Why would an official say such a thing? Answer: Because he or she saw the enormity of the task before us and knew that a.) it was either too late to stop the blow back from reaching American shores, or b.) that the Obama administration was not capable of doing what needs to be done to reverse the jihadist tide.

This is going to get much worse before it gets better, in large part because the president is a political creature. The Middle East only presents a U.S. president with a multitude of difficult choices, and up until this point Mr. Obama has done his best to simply wash his hands of the matter. Only, that isn’t an option any longer. The world’s attention is on him and its waiting for an answer.

As Business Insider points out, his choice to simply look away since 2008 allowed problems to “fester.” The problem — Islamic terrorism — a term the White House didn’t even allow the State Department to use, never went away. In fact, it thrived in the chaos created by Syria’s civil war. And now it can not be denied any longer.

ISIS seeks to create an Islamic caliphate, and regardless of the upcoming battles it faces with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Iraqis or coalition partners, it is now a force to be reckoned with. If you believe in the power of prayer, I suggest saying a few for Mr. Obama; he’s going to need as many as he can get in the months ahead.

Related: Remember Obama’s failure to secure a status of forces agreement with Iraq as it burns

Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, north of Baghdad, June 12, 2014. (Associated Press)
Refugees fleeing from Mosul head to the self-ruled northern Kurdish region in Irbil, Iraq, north of Baghdad, June 12, 2014. (Associated Press)

Remember Obama’s failure to secure a status of forces agreement with Iraq as it burns

A president can declare a war to be over, but that doesn’t mean it actually is — the enemy has a lot of say in the matter.

In December, 2011 the last American troops left Iraq. The Obama administration couldn’t get them out fast enough — and as a result a status of forces agreement with the country was never secured. It’s now 2014, and the consequences of having a commander-in-chief who is in over his head continue to be revealed to the world.

Business Insider reported Tuesday:

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a radical offshoot of al Qaeda, has taken control of Iraq’s second largest city.

Iraqi police and security forces reportedly fled Mosul prior to the attack, leaving the facilities of the city open for plunder. Mosul was a key area of focus for U.S. forces in an effect to stabilize Iraq, and large amounts of military hardware was left in the city for the Iraqis.

Iraq’s parliament speaker said that ISIS took control of the city’s airport and obtained helicopters. ISIS also took control of U.S. Humvees, which they are now proceeding to send to Syria.

NBC’s Richard Engel, after talking with a former U.S. commander in Iraq, puts it further in perspective via Twitter:

Richard Engel Twitter Iraq2

Richard Engel Twitter Iraq

Let that sink in: Even at the height of violence in 2006/2007 a provincial HQs was never seized by insurgents. The implications are “very serious.” And the sad thing is that it could have been prevented.

In Focus Quarterly reported in 2012:

Given that the U.S. would never agree to leave its people to the mercy of an Iraqi court, Iraqi demands for this condition seemed to be a calculated plan of Shia politicians who needed America out of the way in order to finally advance Iranian hegemony in Iraq. But recent reporting by The New York Times’ Michael Gordon paints a more complicated picture of U.S. incompetence and disengagement. Most notably, the Obama administration’s insistence that any Status of Forces Agreement be ratified by Iraq’s parliament set the stage for the inevitable failure of any agreement.

Simply put, while a number of Iraqi political leaders may have privately wished for continued American involvement to serve as a buffer and broker between both domestic rivals and neighboring regimes, far fewer were willing to support this position in a public, contentious debate. No one wants to be regarded as an American stooge in the prideful arena of Iraqi politics. Backing parliamentarians into a corner by demanding public ratification doomed a new SOFA to failure.

Pathetic. There is really no other way to say it.

Foreign Policy magazine had an interview with Jim Jeffrey, the former US Ambassador to Iraq, in 2012. Here’s what came to light (via The Long War Journal):

Jeffrey didn’t necessarily support the larger troop footprint envisioned by military leaders at the time, which reportedly ranged from 8,000 to 16,000 to 24,000 troops, depending on the military official. But he said he firmly believed that troops in Iraq past 2011 were needed and wanted by the Iraqi government.

Jeffrey said that he and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki personally discussed the idea of extending the U.S. troop presence in Iraq via an executive agreement, which would not have to go through the Iraqi parliament.

“Maliki said at one point, ‘Why don’t we just do this as an executive agreement?'”

Again: pathetic.

The Obama administration failed to secure a SOFA with Iraq — a deal that could have been worked out — and for the past three years it’s blubbered around while Syria has turned into Jihad Central. It bombed the hell out of Libya and declared victory, and then walked away as that too descended into one big giant terrorist training ground. It’s sent five top Taliban commanders back out into the field. Now, American-made Humvees are being confiscated in Iraq and sent into Syria, where over 150,000 people have died, and the chaos (the perfect breeding ground for terrorism), looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic scenario from your worst nightmares.

To add insult to injury, ISIS also has its hands on helicopters. Great. Grand. Wonderful.

ISIS stolen helicopter

And in case you missed it, ISIS military commanders have s**t-eating grins on their faces because of what’s going on in Iraq and Syria right.

AQ offshoot stolen Humvee

The primary role of the commander-in-chief is to keep the nation safe. It isn’t to “slow jam” the news with Jimmy Fallon. It isn’t to do “Funny or Die” videos to sell health care public policy because the federal government couldn’t get a website to work for hundreds-of-millions of dollars.

The president’s number one task is to protect Americans from those who seek to do them harm at home or abroad, and Mr. Obama’s fundamental misunderstanding of what motivates and drives the world’s worst actors has left him woefully unprepared for the job.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei laughs at Mr. Obama. Vladimir Putin laughs at Mr. Obama. Terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Syria and every other failed state and pseudo-lawless region of the world all laugh at Mr. Obama. That is because instead of doing the right thing since taking office, all-too-often the president decided to do “the opposite of Bush” — even if the decision was not in the long-term national security interests of the American people.

The United States needed a commander-in-chief and it fittingly elected a community organizer from a city that “organized” itself into “Chiraq.”

Hopefully, 2016 will be the year that Americans decide that the presidential election should be taken a bit more seriously than a vote for the next winner of American Idol.

Fallujah falls to al Qaeda: Did American soldiers die in vain?

Fallujah. To anyone who closely followed the Iraq War, the name speaks volumes. No matter where you stand on U.S. foreign policy in a post 9/11 world, Fallujah holds all the stories you will ever need to make your case and defend the position. Now that the city has fallen into the hands of al Qaeda, the story becomes much sadder than it ever needed to be.

The Washington Post reports:

BEIRUT — A rejuvenated al-Qaeda-affiliated force asserted control over the western Iraqi city of Fallujah on Friday, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U.S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago.

The capture of Fallujah came amid an explosion of violence across the western desert province of Anbar in which local tribes, Iraqi security forces and al-Qaeda-affiliated militants have been fighting one another for days in a confusingly chaotic three-way war.

Elsewhere in the province, local tribal militias claimed they were gaining ground against the al-Qaeda militants who surged into urban areas from their desert strongholds this week after clashes erupted between local residents and the Iraqi security forces.

In Fallujah, where Marines fought the bloodiest battle of the Iraq war in 2004, the militants appeared to have the upper hand, underscoring the extent to which the Iraqi security forces have struggled to sustain the gains made by U.S. troops before they withdrew in December 2011.

The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that was formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while escalating its activities in Iraq. Roughly a third of the 4,486 U.S. troops killed in Iraq died in Anbar trying to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, nearly 100 of them in the November 2004 battle for control of Fallujah, the site of America’s bloodiest confrontation since the Vietnam War.

Events Friday suggested the fight may have been in vain.

“At the moment, there is no presence of the Iraqi state in Fallujah,” said a local journalist who asked not to be named because he fears for his safety. “The police and the army have abandoned the city, al-Qaeda has taken down all the Iraqi flags and burned them, and it has raised its own flag on all the buildings.”

Did U.S. Marines die in vain? It’s an excellent question. The tale is far from over.

In 2011, President Obama failed to secure a Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government and, in many ways, attempted to wish away his responsibilities regarding the aftermath of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Likewise, he disengaged from the world stage as Syria spun out of control. The result: tens-of-thousands of Syrian refugees (including foreign fighters linked with al Qaeda) have flooded into Iraq, overloading a government that could barely control its security situation to begin with. George W. Bush — for all his faults — stuck with “the surge” strategy despite enormous political pressure to raise the white flag of surrender. That opened the door for the al-Anbar Awakening and, when he left office, it appeared as though the U.S. had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Whether politicians agreed or disagreed with the Iraq War, it is their solemn obligation to ensure that the soldiers who willingly sacrificed themselves for the cause did not do so in vain. If there are no true statesmen left in the U.S. Congress, then Americans should admit it and become like people around the world who are just happy if someone can find them on a map.

Before any hasty decisions are made, it is best to revisit Fallujah:

Fallujah is sometimes called “the city of mosques”; and insurgents made heavy use of them as command posts, arms depots, and defensive positions. Inside the Saad Abi Bin Waqas Mosque in central Fallujah, Marines found small arms, artillery shells, and parts of missile systems. Marines and soldiers engaged insurgents emplaced in mosques, but always with great caution and often using Iraqi troops to finish off assaults. It took Company B, 1/8, fighting on foot, 16 hours of house-to-house combat to capture the Muhammadia Mosque, during which time they were attacked with everything from rocket-propelled grenades to suicide bombers.

The people who are in charge of Fallujah now use mosques as armories, staging areas for attacks, and as bunkers when necessary. They plot and plan from inside sacred walls, in part because Western politicians tend to let them do so with impunity. To ignore that this is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria across the Middle East and in Northern Africa is to invite disaster yet again on American shores.

In the Middle East, our adversaries think and act in terms of centuries. In the United States, the vast majority of politicians cannot think beyond the next election cycle.

In large swathes of the Middle East, words like ‘honor’ — to the family, to the tribe, and to the nation — are taken seriously. In large swathes of the United States, ‘honor’ is now an antiquated notion, and patriots are portrayed as backwoods hicks by the purveyors of popular culture.

In the Middle East, guys who spend years solely focused on memorizing the Koran are in a waiting game with a nation of ADD-suffering narcissists who think they’re geniuses because they’ve accumulated enough hours consuming science fiction masterworks that they can dazzle audiences with Star Wars improvisational skills. These days, Americans are only serious about being unserious — and it will come back to haunt us tenfold.

Fallujah is important because it highlights yet another momentous challenge before free nations, while exposing America’s intellectually underprepared and ill-equipped political class.

Fallujah is important because it demonstrates that while America’s entertainment-obsessed culture pretends as if it can exist within viral video YouTube bubbles, Xbox fantasy worlds and the studios of late night comics who never found a good man or a higher ideal that they couldn’t tear down, the reality is something starkly different.

At one time, vast oceans could be used to make a compelling case that an isolationist America was a safer America. As technology advances, collisions between cultures will speed up. What happens in the Middle East and Northern Africa matters here, and Americans who think that every four years is a good time for a debate on foreign policy are sorely mistaken. When top officials in Washington can make the case that obscure anti-Islam YouTube videos are the cause of terror attacks on U.S. consulates (whether you believe them or not), it’s a clear indicator that the paradigm has changed.

Did U.S. Marines die in vain in Fallujah? The answer is up to us. Political leaders and an informed public have a responsibility to make sure that the vision soldiers sacrificed their lives for — a safer world for future Americans — becomes a reality.