‘1980s are now calling’ mockery of Romney haunts Obama: Putin takes control in Syria

Obama Romney 80s joke

It was only a few short years ago that President Obama openly mocked Mitt Romney for saying Russia was the greatest geopolitical threat to the America. Certain segments of the media thought his “zinger” was downright hilarious. Fast forward three years and Vladimir Putin has annexed Crimea, is primed to do the same in eastern Ukraine, and put himself in the driver’s seat in Syria.

The Huffington Post reported Oct. 22, 2012:

During the presidential debate on Monday evening, President Barack Obama deployed a Seinfeldian zinger to mock former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee. Romney had said that al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are “rushing in” as revolutions shake up the Muslim world.

“Gov. Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that al Qaeda is a threat,” Obama said, “because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia.”

“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” Obama said.

What Mr. Obama didn’t realize is that the Cold War never ended for Vladimir Putin, which is odd because the Russian’s public statements have always made that very clear.

Reuters reported Thursday, Oct 1, 2015:

Hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria to join a major ground offensive on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad’s government, sources said on Thursday, a further sign of the rapid internationalization of a civil war in which every major country in the region has a stake.

Russian warplanes bombed a camp run by rebels trained by the CIA, the group’s commander said, putting Moscow and Washington on opposing sides in a Middle East conflict for the first time since the Cold War.

The U.S. and Russian militaries will hold talks at 11 a.m. EDT via video link to seek ways to keep their militaries apart as they wage parallel campaigns of air strikes in Syria, a U.S. defense official said.

Russian jets struck targets near the cities of Hama and Homs in western Syria on the second day of their surprise air campaign, which they launched on Wednesday.

Moscow said it had hit Islamic State positions, but the area where it struck is held by a rival insurgent alliance, which unlike Islamic State is supported by U.S. allies including Arab states and Turkey.

The problem with the Obama administration is that America’s adversaries around the globe telegraph exactly what their intentions are, and yet Mr. Obama and his hand-picked staff refuse to take them at their word.

Arizona Sen. John McCain pointed out this strange behavior out Wednesday on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell:

John Kerry and his spokesperson said it is not clear what Russia’s intentions are. It was perfectly clear what Russia’s intentions are!”

A flashback to July 21 shows Kerry was also confused by Iran’s vow to undermine U.S. policy, which was made immediately after agreeing to a nuclear “deal” with the Obama administration.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Saturday vowing to defy American policies in the region despite a deal with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program was “very troubling”.

I don’t know how to interpret it at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that’s his policy,” he said in the interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television.

“But I do know that often comments are made publicly and things can evolve that are different. If it is the policy, it’s very disturbing, it’s very troubling,” he added.

Why is Mr. Kerry always confused? Perhaps it is because he mistakes U.S. fallibility (a trait of all nations) with the idea that threats exist because America is, for all intents and purposes, always at fault.

Mitt Romney knew what he was talking about in 2012, and the president sneered at him. The media laughed along with the “Seinfeldian zinger” – but the real joke was on the American people.

The only people who are laughing now are the Russians, the Iranians, the Assad regime and their allies all around the globe.

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Obama’s $500M plan to train Syrian rebels yields ‘four or five’ troops, Gen. Lloyd Austin admits

Obama Syria

Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command, was forced to tell the truth Wednesday in front of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. As is often the case, the truth can be painful. It turns out that a $500 million dollar program launched by the Obama administration to train Syrian rebels has yielded “four or five” troops for the front line against the Islamic State group.

Here is the exchange between Gen. Austin and Republican Senator Deb Fischer on Wednesday:

Sen. Deb Fischer: When Senator Carter was here before this committee in July he testified that there were only about 60 Syrian fighters that had been trained in our train-and-equip program and reinserted. We’ve heard reports of attacks on those individuals when they were reinserted back into Syria. Can you tell us what the total number of trained fighters remains.

Austin: It’s a small number. The ones that are in the fight is, we’re talking four or five.

Yes, you read that correctly — “four or five.”

LLoyd Austin

The Daily Beast did a decent job summing up the situation:

It is a staggeringly low number for a project in which the Obama administration had initially planned to train 5,400 fighters a year. At this pace of training, U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin told a Senate committee, the U.S. “won’t reach the goal we initially established for ourself.” In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Austin and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Christine Wormuth gave a relatively rosy picture of the U.S.-led effort to defeat ISIS, characterizing the Syrian train-and-equip program as merely “off to a slow start.”

“That’s a joke,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) told Austin, referring to the “four or five” figure.

It would be a joke if the situation wasn’t so serious.

As it stands, the Islamic State group still controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria, Libya and Yemen (once touted as White House foreign policy successes) have imploded, and the United Nations puts the number of registered Syrian refugees at 4 million.

Syrian Refugee

The Obama administration told the world for the past year that it had everything under control — and then Europe was flooded with refugees.

It also appears as though intelligence experts were pressured into giving the White House the exact message it wanted: Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.

NBC News reported Sept. 16:

“Published media reports suggest that the CIA’s estimate of ISIL’s manpower has remained constant, despite U.S. airstrikes-which suggests that either they were wrong to begin with, or that ISIL is replacing its losses in real time. Neither is good,” said committee chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“Indeed, this committee is disturbed by recent whistleblower allegations that officials at Central Command skewed intelligence assessments to paint an overly-positive picture of conditions on the ground,” McCain said. He said the committee was investigating the allegations. “If true, those responsible must be held accountable,” he said.

Mr. Obama raised his head up high after adopting a “lead from behind” strategy. He seems to care more about inviting Muslim high school “suitcase-clock” makers to the White House than dealing with Islamic terrorist armies marching across the Middle East. He created a leadership vacuum in the world, which was quickly filled by its worst actors.

Sadly, many media outlets still refuse to accurately cover just how disastrous the president’s foreign policy has been. Indeed, it is hard to blame George W. Bush for a $500 million Obama anti-ISIL plan that churned out “four or five” soldiers.

As time runs out on the Obama administration, expect dictators, despots and terrorists around the globe to make an extra push for easy geopolitical gains. They know a guy like Mr. Obama doesn’t come around too often.

Iran continues to spit in Obama’s eye after nuclear ‘deal’; Kerry finds it ‘disturbing’

Iran Khamenei TwitterIran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has used the past two weekends since securing a nuclear deal with the U.S. to rhetorically laugh and spit in the Obama administration’s face. The response by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been to rub his index finger back-and-forth over his lips as fast as possible while saying “PeaceblubberblubberPeaceblubberblubberPeace.”

Kerry APYesterday it was the silhouetted image of President Obama with a gun to his head. Last Saturday it was a rally featuring “Death to America!” chants. In response to Iran’s “supreme” leader saying the Middle Eastern nation would continue to undermine U.S. foreign policy in the region, Mr. Kerry was left dumbfounded.

Reuters reported July 21:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said a speech by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Saturday vowing to defy American policies in the region despite a deal with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program was “very troubling”.

“I don’t know how to interpret it at this point in time, except to take it at face value, that that’s his policy,” he said in the interview with Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television.

“But I do know that often comments are made publicly and things can evolve that are different. If it is the policy, it’s very disturbing, it’s very troubling,” he added.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest authority in Iran, told supporters on Saturday that U.S. policies in the region were “180 degrees” opposed to Iran’s, in a Tehran speech punctuated by chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

How does one not know how to determine the meaning of “Death to America!” or explicit vows to undermine U.S. foreign policy? The Obama administration just freed up billions of dollars for Iran through sanctions relief, which will be funneled into the hands of Mr. Ali “Death to America!” Khamenei’s proxies in the region. The White House’s response to crystal clear signs that Iran has no intention of honoring its “deal” is to mumble “It’s very disturbing, it’s very troubling.”

The Obama administration declared victory in Libya (Remember Hillary Clinton’s interview with CBS?: “We came. We saw. He died. Haha!”) The Obama administration pulled all U.S. troops out of Iraq and said our work was done there. The Obama administration declared relations with Russia were “reset.” The Obama administration declared it had a chemical weapons deal with Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The Obama administration said Yemen was proof that its foreign policy was working.

Question: How did all of those foreign policy successes work out?

Answer: Libya is a terrorist jungle gym. The Islamic State now controls large swathes of Iraq. Russia annexed Crimea and continues to support Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Assad never gave up all of his chemical weapons and the White House now weirdly uses the defense that chlorine isn’t “historically” a chemical weapon. Yemen’s president resigned and literally ran for his life from Islamic “Death to America!”-chanting radicals.

The “peace at any cost” mentality is a sure recipe for war. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama and his administration will be long gone when the bitter fruit of his foreign policy comes to market. Another man (or woman?) will be commander in chief when that happens. That individual will then be forced to take political lumps — and send U.S. troops into harm’s way — because Mr. Obama vouched for “deals” with leaders who attend “Death to America!” rallies.

One must wonder just how bizarrely belligerent Iran must become before members of the Obama administration admit that maybe — just maybe — they made a deal with dishonest brokers.

CNN goes full-Dorothy on Islamic State: ‘There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.’

Wizard of OzYesterday on this blog I said that Americans would be wise to look at the Islamic State group’s execution video of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh. Fox News apparently took the same viewpoint and provided a link for viewers who were comfortable with the decision. CNN International executive Tony Maddox, however, took the “Wizard of Oz” approach: “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

Mediaite reported Feb. 4:

“There was absolutely no editorial justification for showing it at all. You could describe what happened, and in describing what happened it is deeply and profoundly disturbing. As we were discussing Michael, you and I unfortunately have had a lot of exposure to these images. And even by that threshold this is just out-and-out appalling. It makes one despair. Nothing can be gained by showing that. And a key criteria is ISIS want us to show it. If ISIS wants you to show something, you should start with the principle ‘How can we avoid doing that?'”

Wrong, Tony. Nothing can be more powerful than witnessing an event first hand. Since CNN viewers can not bend space and time to their will, the next best thing is to see actual video of newsworthy events with world-wide repercussions.

On Sept. 11, 2001 I was scouring different stations for anything I could find on the terrorists attacks. I stopped on a Mexican television station that showed images of men and women jumping to their demise from the World Trade Center Towers. Those images affected in me in ways that no amount of description alone could ever duplicate. To say that “nothing” was gained from that experience would be a lie.

If I sit down with a man and we’re given the exact same amount of information on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks — but I am given access to audio and video of the event — my understanding of reality should be the one that is closest to reality.

The ability to see just how barbaric the individuals Western civilization is up against is an invaluable asset, and, ironically, it is given to us by the enemy. Yes, the videos serve as a propaganda too for terrorist groups, but it’s a double-edged sword. The U.S. doesn’t have to go out of its way to make it’s own propaganda because the enemy has already demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is evil.

Mediaite asked after Fox’s decision to link to the videos: “when a terrorist group’s actions are as undeniably horrible as beheadings and burning people alive, do you really need to see it with your own eyes to know it’s despicable?”

In a world with a working moral compass, evidence that the videos exist and that they are real would probably be enough. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the President refuses to call the Islamic State group “Islamic,” the State Department doesn’t want to put “labels” on The Taliban, the Obama administration has called terrorism “man caused disasters,” the Fort Hood shooting was called “workplace violence,” and it was only months ago that said commander in chief was calling Moaz al-Kassasbeh’s future killers a “J.V. team.”

Yes, sadly, watching these videos is precisely what many Americans need to do. They could also watch the 9/11 attacks while they’re at it, since many of them said “Never forget!” … just before they forgot.

While CNN pats itself on the back for segments in which it is seriously put forth that a missing airplane may have fallen into a black hole, Fox is busy showing America the true face of a terrorist organization with global ambitions. Americans should obviously not be forced to look at a man’s last moments as he is burned alive, but the evidence of a terrorist group’s ghoulish atrocities should be readily available for any man who wants to see why eternal vigilance is needed to protect his freedom.

For those of you who prefer your news thoroughly sterilized before you watch it, just remember: “There’s no place like home.”

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. Dempsey to Obama: You might need to use ground troops if this coalition stinks

Chuck Hagel, Martin DempseyArmy Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke before the Senate Armed Services Committees on Tuesday, telling officials that if coalition partners don’t deal with the Islamic State group’s operations in Iraq, then he would not hesitate to say what President Obama doesn’t want to hear: “Send in the ground troops.”

“To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president,” the general told the committees, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. He added that his recommendation, “may include the use of ground forces.”

One only needs to look Syria to realize that reliable ground troops — by someone — will be necessary to deal with Islamic State.

Reuters reported Tuesday:

Islamic State has gone underground in its Syrian stronghold since President Barack Obama authorized U.S. air strikes on the group in Syria, disappearing from the streets, redeploying weapons and fighters, and cutting down its media exposure.

In the city of Raqqa, 450 km (280 miles) northeast of Damascus, residents say Islamic State has been moving equipment every day since Obama signaled on Sept. 11 that air attacks on its forces could be expanded from Iraq to Syria. …

Facing U.S. air strikes in Iraq, Islamic State fighters abandoned heavy weaponry that made them easy targets and tried to blend into civilian areas. In anticipation of similar raids in Syria, the group may already be doing the same.

In Raqqa, the group has evacuated buildings it was using as offices, redeployed its heavy weaponry, and moved fighters’ families out of the city.

“They are trying to keep on the move,” said one Raqqa resident, communicating via the Internet and speaking on condition of anonymity because of safety fears. “They have sleeper cells everywhere,” he added.

Anyone who peddles the idea that days of precision airstrikes on Islamic State convoys, parades and gathering places will “destroy” the terrorist group is a fool. For over three years the president did everything he could to ignore its rise by “leading from behind.” He tried to wash away his own “red line” in Syria and then allow others in the region to handle the civil war their own way. He opted to play a passive role when the world needed leadership, and contrary to the logic regularly espoused by Code Pink, the threat metastasized.

The men at the top of the Islamic State food chain are smart. Given that they have assets in Syria in Iraq — and Obama has ruled out using ground troops — the logical course of action for them is to go underground. Yes, it will slow their advance, but who cares? They already have access to millions of dollars in oil money a day, control main roadways and financial centers, and have suicide bombers at their disposal. Iraq does not have the political or military leadership at this time to go on the offensive without serious logistical support from western nations, and the U.S. has no one it can trust in Syria. If the U.S. was really serious about destroying Islamic State anytime soon, then Gen. Dempsey would publicly recommend ground troops immediately. He won’t do that because it is clear that the president is more concerned with finding a way to pass the buck onto a future U.S. president than he is with handing the threat now.

How can anyone know this? Easy. Simply read The New York Times, which reported Sept. 13 on the a meeting the president had with select journalists:

Mr. Obama had what guests on Wednesday afternoon described as a bereft look as he discussed the murders of Mr. Foley and Mr. Sotloff, particularly because two other Americans are still being held. Days later, ISIS would report beheading a British hostage with another video posted online Saturday.

But the president said he had already been headed toward a military response before the men’s deaths. He added that ISIS had made a major strategic error by killing them because the anger it generated resulted in the American public’s quickly backing military action.

If he had been “an adviser to ISIS,” Mr. Obama added, he would not have killed the hostages but released them and pinned notes on their chests saying, “Stay out of here; this is none of your business.” Such a move, he speculated, might have undercut support for military intervention.

What kind of president gives an Islamic terrorist group ideas on ways to undercut U.S. public support for military operations that simultaneously allow the caliphate’s continuous rise? Mr. Obama’s Times interview translates: “You know, if you play your cards right, you can turn the public against me and still achieve your objectives, right? Think it about, guys. Seriously.”

Mr. Obama’s unsolicited advice to Islamic State only further highlights his deep desire for all radical Islamic terrorism to be a  problem that is largely confined to the Middle East, with occasional “law enforcement matters” (e.g., car bombs) that affect western interests around the globe. His infamous “jayvee team” interview with The New Yorker once again comes back to haunt him:

“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.”

Mr. Obama’s interview with the Times essentially gives the terrorist group the “off ramp” elitist Beltway pundits always speak of any time an international thug starts invading countries or slaughtering his own people. The president is saying, “Guys, there’s still time. You can still make this ‘none of our business.'” What he doesn’t understand is that the end game for any group that seeks to create an Islamic caliphate requires the subjugation of free people.

Before Mr. Obama was elected president in 2008, people joked about the number of times he voted “present” in the Illinois State Senate. It wasn’t a joke, because he adopted a “vote present” foreign policy upon assuming the role of commander in chief. In the vacuum created by a sudden absence of American leadership, it was never going to be picked up by the cultural cadaver that is Europe. Instead, it was filled by the world’s worst actors, acting like prisoners who just had their jail cells thrown open by the head warden.

“Peace at any cost” doesn’t bring peace — it brings war. Sadly, it appears as though the message hasn’t penetrated the minds of Code Pink’s most ardent supporters, the president or members of his inner circle.

Joe Scarborough: Obama’s ‘We don’t have a strategy’ remark comes from ‘The Art of War’

Joe Scarborough MSNBCOccasionally I write satirical pieces for this blog, and last week I wanted to put something together where the president’s supporters made the case that his “We don’t have a strategy yet” comment on Islamic State was really a masterstroke that Sun Tzu would applaud. It turns out that Joe Scarborough was thinking along the same lines — except he may really believe Obama is a strategic genius straight out of the pages of “The Art of War.”

Given that Joe Scarborough is the guy who would rather boycott Burger King over its decision to merge with Tim Hortons than to figure out why iconic American companies are heading to Canada, it’s probably safe to say (sadly) that he wasn’t joking.

“The Morning Joe” panel said on Aug. 29:

Scarborough: “This is straight out of ‘The Art of War.'”

Panelist: “I can’t tell if you’re joking or not.”

Scarborough: “No, I’m not joking. No, I’m not — I am dead serious. I’m not joking. It’s straight out of ‘The Art of War’ where, when you were weak, you make you enemies think you are strong. When you are strong, you make your enemies think you are weak. If I’m about to attack another country, no, I would say — No, if I were about to attack another country I would say ‘You know what, we don’t have a strategy. We’re still working it out. You know. And then I would say ‘Scramble the jets. Scramble the jets.’ Right? … Okay, I’m sorry. Am I wrong?”

Here is  an excerpt from “The Art of War”:

“Strike at their gaps, attack when they are lax, don’t let the enemy figure out how to prepare. This is why it is said that in military operations formlessness is the most effective. One of the great warrior-leaders said, ‘The most efficient of movements is the one that is unexpected; the best of plans is the one that is unknown,” (Meng Shi).

“To divulge means to leak out. The military has no constant form, just as water has no constant shape — adapt as you face the enemy, without letting them know beforehand what you are going to do. Therefore, assessment of the enemy is in the mind, observation of the situation is in the eyes,” (Cao Cao).

“When your strategy is deep and far-reaching, then what you gain by your calculations is much, so you can win before you even fight. When your strategic thinking is shallow and nearsighted, then what you gain by your calculations is little, so you lose before you do battle. Much strategy prevails over little strategy, so those with no strategy cannot but be defeated,” (Zhang Yu).

What is more likely: That the U.S. military has plenty of strategies for defeating Islamic State, which Mr. Obama simply hasn’t decided on because he’s struck with political paralysis, or that the U.S. military doe not have a strategy? My bet is that Mr. Obama’s advisers have given him countless plans, which have all been rejected because actual leadership requires making decisions that are politically unpopular. It’s much easier to “lead from behind” and depend on others to come up with a strategy than it is to take charge and make decisions that you know will cost good men and women their lives.

Perhaps the “conservative” Mr. Scarborough should read The Washington Post. The paper wrote on Aug. 29:

His senior advisers uniformly have warned of the unprecedented threat to America and Americans represented by Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq. But Mr. Obama didn’t seem to agree. “Now, ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] poses an immediate threat to the people of Iraq and to people throughout the region,” he said. “My priority at this point is to make sure that the gains that ISIL made in Iraq are rolled back.” Contrast that ambition with this vow from Secretary of State John F. Kerry: “And make no mistake: We will continue to confront ISIL wherever it tries to spread its despicable hatred. The world must know that the United States of America will never back down in the face of such evil.”

The discrepancies raise the question of whether Mr. Obama controls his own administration, but that’s not the most disturbing element. His advisers are only stating the obvious: Russia has invaded Ukraine. The Islamic State and the Americans it is training are a danger to the United States. When Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. says the threat they pose is “in some ways . . . more frightening than anything I think I’ve seen as attorney general,” it’s not because he is a warmonger or an alarmist. He’s describing the world as he sees it. When Mr. Obama refuses to acknowledge the reality, allies naturally wonder whether he will also refuse to respond to it.

That is not the hallmark behavior of a man who has read Sun Tzu. It is the tell-tale sign of a man who stepped into the batter’s box before he ever took a fastball. As strikeout after strikeout piles up, he continues to blame everyone except himself for his inability lead the team to victory.

The problem for the president is that the Islamic State group isn’t a mere rival of the Chicago White Sox — it’s a terrorist organization. When the president strikes out on matters of national security, innocent Americans die.

If Joe Scarborough was joking about the president’s “We don’t have a strategy” remark, then he should stop because Islamic State isn’t a laughing matter. If he was serious and he really believes the president knows exactly what he’s doing, then the MSNBC host should explain how Libya’s fall to Islamic radicals, Iraq’s implosion, the annexation of Crimea to Russia and the the invasion of eastern Ukraine (the president still calls it an “incursion”) all fit into Mr. Obama’s master plan.

Read “The Art of War” again, Mr. Scarborough. You’re having a lot trouble putting things into their proper context.

Islamic State beheads James Foley, then keeps the lights on in town; U.S. citizens left in the dark

James Foley

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant beheaded U.S. photojournalist James Foley yesterday, and the news shot out across social media at lightening speed — but Americans have been kept in the dark about what it will take to defeat the terrorist group. As Islamic State and its tens-of-thousands of fighters dig in to large swathes of Iraq and Syria, we are being led to believe that random airstrikes, occasional Special Forces operations, and some new weapons in the hands of the Iraqi government will do the trick. Meanwhile, Islamic State is learning how to fill potholes and get the trash out on Thursdays.

The Obama administration is not being upfront about the nature of the threat, and in time that dishonesty will bring the sorrow felt by the Foley family to many other Americans.

James Carafano, vice president for foreign and defense policy at the Heritage Foundation, spoke with The Washington Times on Tuesday. During the interview, he indirectly reminded everyone that the group President Obama infamously referred to as the “J.V. team” are establishing themselves as a serious adversary.

It’s “a very provocative way of showing that you are still a force to be reckoned with” and not just “a bunch of losers,” he said. “In this part of the world, honor is power. It’s not about doing the right thing. [Honor] is as important to them as martyrdom.

The U.S. is setting itself up for failure because many of its policymakers a.) don’t understand (or want to understand) the threat posed by Islamic State and its allies around the globe, b.) what they do know they don’t accurately convey to the American people, and c.) they deal with the threat by creating the illusion that something is being done (e.g., random drone strikes), when in reality they are most-likely exacerbating the problem.

Meanwhile, Islamic State is using its time in charge of cities across the Middle East to learn how to govern.

Foreign Policy Magazine reported Monday:

The Obama administration’s escalating air war against the Islamic State is running up against a dispiriting new reality: The militants are becoming as good at governing territory as they are at conquering it, making it considerably harder to dislodge them from the broad swaths of Syria and Iraq that they now control.

U.S. intelligence officials say the leaders of the Islamic State are adopting methods first pioneered by Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite militia, and are devoting considerable human and financial resources toward keeping essential services like electricity, water, and sewage functioning in their territory. In some areas, they even operate post offices. …

Islamic State, already the best-armed and best-funded terror group in the world, is quickly adapting to the challenges of ruling and governing. That, in turn, dramatically reduces the chances that the extremists will face homegrown opposition in what amounts to the world’s newest territory.

“ISIS is the most dangerous terrorist group in the world because they combine the fighting capabilities of al Qaeda with the administrative capabilities of Hezbollah,” said David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert who spent several years working as a top aide to Gen. David Petraeus during the height of the Iraq War. “It’s clear that they have a state-building agenda and an understanding of the importance of effective governance.”

Once again, it’s time to revisit David Remnick’s January interview  with President Obama in The New Yorker:

I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Falluja, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama said, resorting to an uncharacteristically flip analogy. “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.

“Let’s just keep in mind, Falluja is a profoundly conservative Sunni city in a country that, independent of anything we do, is deeply divided along sectarian lines. And how we think about terrorism has to be defined and specific enough that it doesn’t lead us to think that any horrible actions that take place around the world that are motivated in part by an extremist Islamic ideology are a direct threat to us or something that we have to wade into.”

Is the extermination of entire Christian populations in the Middle East worth wading into? We now know that it’s at least worth a few American air strikes along the side of a mountain. Is the beheading of American photojournalists worth wading into? Perhaps not a single person, but the mountain of heads is piling up mighty high in Syria and Iraq, and the guys wielding the instruments of death have openly stated their desire to bring terror to the Western world.

The Obama administration desperately wanted to believe that “extremist Islamic ideology” is something that is only a threat to “local” populations, when members of such groups state again and again that the goal is to build a worldwide Islamic caliphate. While it is much harder to expose Mr. Obama’s incompetence on domestic issues (e.g., The reason why Program X isn’t working is because it requires $10 billion more dollars on top of the $10 billion we’ve already spent, and the evil Republicans in the House aren’t working with me.), honest individuals can see that he is in way over his head on foreign policy. His fundamental misunderstanding of the threat posed by Islamic terrorists will have deadly repercussions for years to come.

If you get a moment, say a prayer for the Foley family. Then, say a prayer for the family of journalist Steven Joel Sotloff, who Islamic State is threatening to behead next.