Taliban seize major city; Barack Can-we-leave-yet? Obama shrugs shoulders

Kunduz

The world is seeing what happens when a U.S. commander in chief decides the only thing he wants to be transparent about is his desire to leave fragile Middle Eastern countries alone with a rogues’ gallery of Islamic radical groups and nation states.

President Obama failed to renew a status of forces agreement with Iraq and pulled all U.S. troops out of the country in Dec. 2011, despite the risk of losing everything Americans fought and died for over the course of a decade. Al Qaeda in Iraq essentially mutated into the Islamic State group, and the country is a mess. (We won’t even talk about the president’s “red lines” in Syria, which turned into “red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.)

CNN reported Monday on a preview of what is to come if Mr. Obama exits too quickly in Afghanistan:

The loss of the major city of Kunduz to the Taliban is a stunning reversal for the Afghan government, deepening worries about the ability of its security forces to take the fight to the Islamic militants. …

It’s the biggest Taliban victory since 2001. …

The loss of Kunduz, even if the Afghan government manages to take it back soon, is an ominous sign. It’s Afghanistan’s fifth largest city and the capital of the province of the same name.

“This is the biggest town they’ve been able to take since 2001,” said Nic Robertson, CNN’s international diplomatic editor. “This is a significant target and prize for the Taliban.” …

The Taliban’s intent to try to take Kunduz was well flagged, and yet Afghan forces were unable to hold the city despite outnumbering the attackers. “Since about April this year, the Taliban increased their strength in the countryside to the north of Kunduz and have essentially had it in their sights since then,” Robertson said.

The militant group hasn’t had the easiest year. ISIS has been reported to be eating into its recruitment efforts in Afghanistan, and internal divisions in the Taliban were laid bare after the admission that longtime leader Mullah Omar had died more than two years ago.

But despite initial questions over whether the group would fall apart, new leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour appears to have overcome the bumpy start and can now point to big blow against the Afghan government in Kunduz.

Mr. Obama does not get animated about very much, but conversations on leaving Afghanistan as soon as possible always seemed to perk him up. The White House was forced to delay its plan to have roughly 5,500 troops in country by the end of 2015 at the behest of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, but he still insisted the U.S. basically reach “embassy center presence” by the end of his term in office. How convenient.

Do you notice a trend with the president when it comes to Iraq, Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, and Afghanistan? He rushes to meet political objectives despite overwhelming evidence that keeping promises made on the campaign trail prior to his 2008 election will create national security nightmares in the long run.

A leader — a true leader — is willing to make decisions that will gut him politically if the alternative is a substantially more dangerous world. Look at Yemen, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan and then compare where they are today with where they were in 2008. There is no way to objectively look at those countries — and the millions of refugees fleeing the Middle East and northern Africa — and conclude the Obama administration’s foreign policy has been a success.

President Obama expresses frustration March 24, 2015 that his attempts to run from Afghanistan with a come-what-may attitude are being thwarted by harsh reality. (Image: CNN screenshot)
President Obama expresses frustration March 24, 2015 that his attempts to run from Afghanistan with a come-what-may attitude are being thwarted by harsh reality. (Image: CNN screenshot)

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.

Obama: Iran deal failure may bring war — but at least you can now enjoy my Spotify playlist

Obama SpotifyPresident Obama and his administration’s Twitter feeds are fascinating to read each week, given that the overall message can end up along the lines of: “If Congress doesn’t approve my Iran deal, then we may have to go to war. … In the meantime, at least you can sit back and relax to my newest Spotify playlist.”

Obama IranMr. Obama is a strange man. One day he is making the case that Americans really care that he likes to listen to Mos def’s “UMI Says,” and Erykah Badu’s “Woo,” and the next he is making the case that Republicans in Congress are no different than Iranians who chant “Death to America.”

The Hill reported August 7:

The president inflamed his critics with his tough tone in a major speech on Wednesday, defending the Iran deal.

Obama linked congressional Republicans opposed to the deal with Iranian hard-liners who chant “death to America,” saying they are “making a common cause with the Republican caucus.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed Obama’s claim that the only alternative to the deal is war as an “absurd argument.”

“That’s never been the alternative,” he said. “It’s either this deal or a better deal, or more sanctions, and I think that’s been a huge mistake on his part.”

The Obama administration seems to believe the matter is serious enough to have an official “Iran Deal” Twitter account, but then turns it into a joke by sharing disingenuous memes inspired by “Straight Outta Compton.”

Obama Iran DealRemember: The weekend after Iran “agreed” to the nuclear deal, its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei joined a “death to America” rally. The next weekend he said he would use the billions of dollars in sanctions relief to undermine U.S. foreign policy.

The fact of the matter is that Iran will not be “straight outta uranium.” The deal merely kicks the can ten years down the road, if one believes that Iran won’t find a way to cheat. Sadly, the only people on earth who seem to think Iran won’t be able to cheat are members of the Obama administration.

Straight Outta ComptonThe world’s stage is filled with men like Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Vladimir Putin. Terrorist organizations like the Islamic State group control large swathes of the Middle East and northern Africa. Ask yourself what the world’s worst actors think when they see Mr. Obama’s weird obsession with coming across as “cool” to people who will only understand foreign policy if it’s delivered with a “Straight Outta Compton” hook.

The short answer: America’s enemies laugh at Mr. Obama. He is a joke to the kind of man who kills political opponents with radioactive isotopes (research the death of Alexander Litvinenko) and he is a joke to people who chop off heads in the Middle East.

Whether the next commander in chief is a Democrat or a Republican, one can only pray that the individual does not continue to behave as America’s first Buzzfeed president.

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.

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

America has no strategy for Islamic State because America doesn’t know what it stands for anymore

Islamic State flagThe Islamic State group has taken control of Ramadi and political pundits want to know why Iraqi forces have fled — again — despite training by U.S. troops, an abundance of U.S.-supplied weapons, and the assistance of U.S. airstrikes. The short answer is that the Obama administration has no strategy for Iraq. Dropping bombs on people is not a strategy. Regardless, here is the big picture: the U.S. has an incoherent foreign policy because it no longer knows what it stands for. America’s foreign policy failures are symptoms of a much deeper problem.

To provide a quick example of just how bad things are going in Iraq, first read Wednesday’s reporting by The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The United States is rushing 1,000 antitank rockets to the Iraqi military to help combat the massive suicide vehicle bombs that Islamic State militants used in capturing the provincial capital of Ramadi, a first step as the Obama administration weighs a range of difficult options to help its beleaguered ally. …

Obama administration officials have called the fall of Ramadi a huge setback, but they have sought to quell critics in the region and on Capitol Hill by portraying the defeat as a temporary blow that will not change the overall strategy for fighting the Islamic State or lessen the administration’s support of Mr. Abadi’s government.

Then read Tuesday’s reporting by The Associated Press:

Iraqi troops abandoned dozens of U.S military vehicles, including tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery pieces when they fled Islamic State fighters in Ramadi on Sunday, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

A Pentagon spokesman, Col. Steve Warren, estimated that a half dozen tanks were abandoned, a similar number of artillery pieces, a larger number of armored personnel carriers and about 100 wheeled vehicles like Humvees. He said some of the vehicles were in working condition; others were not because they had not been moved for months.

This repeats a pattern in which defeated Iraq security forces have, over the past year, left behind U.S.-supplied military equipment, prompting the U.S. to destroy them in subsequent airstrikes against Islamic State forces.

Got it? The U.S. is supplying Iraqi forces with antitank weapons just days after Iraqi forces let U.S.-supplied tanks fall into the Islamic State group’s possession. As AP noted, there is now a pattern of Iraqi forces losing U.S. equipment to the terror organization.

Here is what White House Press secretary Josh Earnest told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl when he was essentially asked if this kind of pattern constitutes success:

JONATHAN KARL: On the overall track record of military operations, and the president’s strategy on this, you said we’ve seen periods of progress and success. Would you say that overall the strategy has been a success?

JOSH EARNEST: Look Jon, yeah, overall, yes. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been areas of setback as we saw in Ramadi.

KARL: Is it the exporting terror to Libya? Taking over the capitol of Iraq’s largest province? This is overall success?

EARNEST: We’ve also seen a coalition of 60 nations around the world join the United States in this fight. We’ve seen a new Prime Minister take office in Iraq and unite that country and deploy a multisectarian security force against ISIL that has succeeded in liberating important areas of Diyala, Ninevah, Babel, Kirkuk provinces. …

Translation: We’re “doing something” with a coalition of 60 nations and security forces are “doing…stuff…and things.”

Here is what I said September 13, 2012 regarding President Obama’s foreign policy:

At best, I consider it “Finger Painting Foreign Policy,” in which he takes a globular mess, rubs his hands in it, makes a bigger mess and then smiles with what he’s accomplished — while the media likens him to Jackson Pollock.

Syria has no functional government. Libya has no functional government. Yemen has no functional government. Iraq has a dysfunctional government. It seems safe to say that time has shown the finger painting analogy to be an accurate assessment, which is probably why Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is nowhere to be found.

Nancy Youssef TwitterFormer Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, however, is willing to talk. Here is what he told CBS News on Monday:

“I think first of all we need to change the rules of engagement for our troops. I think we don’t need a significant increase in troops in my view, but how they’re used needs to be changed.”

The sad news is that Mr. Obama is not likely to change the rules of engagement for American troops in any productive way because, again, he has not articulated a strategy. He reacts to world events based on political calculus, but does not try to shape them based on a core set of principles.

Even if the president had an epiphany in the final leg of his presidency, it would matter little. The collective mind of the American people is no longer moored to its founding principles. We are fractured. We are splintered. We are not united. The greatest strategy in the world cannot succeed when its implementation depends upon a nation that has stewed in moral relativism so long that it no longer knows right from wrong — or even cares to learn.

If you believe in God, then I suggest praying for the future of America. Strange days certainly lie ahead.

Army race termite shows unauthorized ‘white privilege’ slide during diversity training

Medal of HonorA 637-page Pentagon training manual created by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) includes a section on “white privilege.” Officers are taught that “white males represent the haves as compared to the have-notes.” The manual was revealed in 2013 due to solid reporting by Fox’s Todd Starnes. It should come as no surprise then that the Army now has an infestation of race termites in its ranks.

USA Today reported Friday:

WASHINGTON — Army officials are investigating a diversity training briefing at Fort Gordon, Ga., in which a slide about “white privilege” was inappropriately shown to soldiers, according to an Army spokeswoman

The Equal Opportunity briefing took place Thursday for about 400 soldiers of the 67th Signal Battalion, Capt. Lindsay Roman, an Army spokeswoman, said Friday. The slide titled “The Luxury of Obliviousness” has bullet-point items about “white privilege.”

One item reads, “Race privilege gives whites little reason to pay a lot of attention to African Americans or to how white privilege affects them. ‘To be white in America means not having to think about it.'”

The presentation was not authorized, nor was it part of the standard slides shown to soldiers, Roman said.

“The unit (Equal Opportunity) instructor deviated from the authorized topic and content which was provided,” Roman said. “To prevent further instances, all unit instructors will receive additional training on the importance of following Army EO training requirements.”

First of all, following lawful orders is a “biggie” in the Army. I hope the EO instructor pays dearly for his or her offense, but I digress.

One of the beautiful things about the Army, which I sadly didn’t appreciate until after I left, was just devoid it was of all the inescapable political correctness found in the civilian world. Race is first stripped of all infantrymen in basic training — your are just a number. I was “Roster Number 144.” After graduation, race wasn’t an issue at my unit because no one really cares about race. They care about performance.

Do you follow orders? Can you be trusted to do what is right even when no one is looking? Are you loyal? Are you a “fat body” or are you a “PT stud”? Can you march 25 miles with 65 pounds on your back without lagging behind? None of those questions have anything to do with race. I can honestly say that I never had any race problems during my time in Charlie Company, 1/18 Infantry Battalion. It was only when I got out of the Army that I realized there was an entire industry of people dedicated to using race to divide the population.

The civilian world is full of people who make excuses — for everything. It’s filled with quitters. It’s filled with people who sit around feeling sorry for themselves instead of getting up off their butt and making the impossible possible. Yes, it’s also filled with millions of men and women with grit in their spit who work hard to and make the world a better place, but it can not be denied that the proportion of professional whiners in its ranks is astounding.

Mitt Romney was rightfully thumped in the polls for the delivery of his “47 percent” comment in 2012, but his core argument was sound: there is a cancerous mass of Americans who do not see work as a virtue and try to avoid it at all costs. One way to avoid work is to blame “white privilege” on any number of life’s unfortunate circumstances and then use it as a cudgel on those who dare to speak painful truths. It is an incredibly frightening realization that race termites have finished hollowing out American culture and found a way to burrow into a world that was previously out of their reach: the military.

Certain occupational specialties will always be resistant to politically correct psychobabble. The problem is that “race-baiter resistant” is not the same as “race-baiter proof.” Will the man to your right trust you when he’s been indoctrinated with Pentagon manuals and EO diversity training courses that say to “assume racism is everywhere, every day”? Answer: Not likely.

If the Army is smart, then they’ll put a boot up this EO instructor’s butt and make sure that “white privilege” slides are only used when they’re printed out and taped to pop-up targets.

Yemen falls into ‘complete chaos’; Josh Earnest goes full ‘Baghdad Bob’

Josh EarnestYears ago the American people made fun of “Baghdad Bob’s” attempts to convince the world that American troops were not closing in on the nation’s capital, even though Marines were only blocks away. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi Information Minister, was a joke. Today, Americans should hang their head in shame because they have their own Baghdad Bob — White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Yemen is spiraling out of control — its president abandoned ship and U.S. special operations forces had to be evacuated this past weekend — and yet Mr. Earnest still maintained Wednesday that the Obama administration considers its efforts there to be a resounding success.

Mediaite reported March 25:

John Karl: Just a quick one first on Yemen. I know you’re asked this after every time something terrible happens in Yemen, but now that we have, you know, essentially complete chaos in Yemen, does the White House still believe Yemen is the model for a counterterrorism strategy?

Josh Earnest: John, the White House does continue to believe that a successful counter terrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government, to have local fighters on the ground take the fight to extremists in their own country. And the United States can serve both to diplomatically offer up some support to central governments. We can offer very tangible support to local security forces in the form of training and equipping. And we can also support the operations of those security forces … whether it’s the deployment of ISR capability or, in the case of Iraq, military airstrikes. And that is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat that we face from extremists in places like Yemen and Somalia — and is a template that we believe can succeed in mitigating the threat emanating from Syria as well.

John Karl: That’s astounding. You’re saying that you still see Yemen as a model? Building up a central government, which has now collapsed? A president who has apparently fled the country? Saudi troops massing on one border, the Iranians supporting the rebels? You consider this a model for counterterrorism?”

For those who aren’t up to speed, CNN reported March 23:

The U.S. military has pulled its remaining personnel out of Yemen due to the deteriorating security situation, the U.S. State Department said.

The evacuation involved about 100 Special Operations forces members from the Al Anad airbase, sources in the region familiar with the situation told CNN. The State Department called it a temporary relocation.

Those evacuated, which include Navy SEALs and members of the Army’s Delta Force, were the last American forces stationed in the Arab nation, which is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group also known as AQAP.

The New York Times reported today:

Yemeni fighters and army units allied with the Houthi movement closed in on the last redoubt of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi of Yemen on Wednesday amid news reports that he had fled by boat across the Gulf of Aden, possibly to the tiny African nation of Djibouti. …

The region’s most impoverished country, Yemen has been a central theater of the American fight against Al Qaeda. Along with Syria, Iraq and Libya, Yemen is also now at least the fourth state to veer toward collapse in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolts.

What makes Yemen’s implosion all the more maddening is that the Obama administration is hoping that with the right media coverage it can make enough people believe that nothing is broken. It’s like Chris Farley in “Tommy Boy” after he broke David Spade’s car door and secretly put it back in place. When Mr. Spade’s character came back to his vehicle and the door fell from its hinges, Farley feigned surprise and asked, “What did you do?”

Tommy BoyThe next president is going to have to deal with the aftermath of Mr. Obama’s disastrous counterterrorism strategy, and when that happens his supporters will act as if it all went downhill the moment their guy left office.

Tommy Boy Chris Farley1The problem is that the world isn’t like “Tommy Boy.” When an administration fails to acknowledge reality in territory controlled by al Qaeda and its ideological allies, eventually it results in dead Americans.

Houthi APJosh Earnest went full Baghdad Bob. You never go full Baghdad Bob, no matter how painful it might be to tell the truth.

Only by telling the truth can we truly figure out how to get a handle on a bad situation. The longer we lie to ourselves, the worse our day of reckoning will be. Sadly, it seems as though the White House’s main concern is making sure that judgment day comes sometime after Mr. Obama has left 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Obama tells Muslim scholars they aren’t Islamic; jihadis laugh, go back to growing caliphate

Bakr alBaghdadiThe Obama administration would do itself a huge favor if it would pass out copies of Graeme Wood’s most recent piece for The Atlantic, “What ISIS Really Wants,” to all of its staff. At a time when the commander in chief can say with a straight face that the Islamic State group is not Islamic and State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf publicly focuses on getting terrorists better job prospects, it is a must-read.

Mr. Wood writes:

Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.

Their skepticism is comprehensible. In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics—notably the late Edward Said—who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.

Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.

This is an incredibly important point. The leadership of the Islamic State is not interested in merely acquiring power for the sake of acquiring power — its quest is directly tied to a serious reading of the Koran that can be debated, but not dismissed.

Mr. Wood continues:

Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet. “The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid,” Bernard Haykel says. That really would be an act of apostasy.

The Islamic State’s ideology exerts powerful sway over a certain subset of the population. Life’s hypocrisies and inconsistencies vanish in its face. Musa Cerantonio and the Salafis I met in London are unstumpable: no question I posed left them stuttering. They lectured me garrulously and, if one accepts their premises, convincingly. To call them un-Islamic appears, to me, to invite them into an argument that they would win. If they had been froth-spewing maniacs, I might be able to predict that their movement would burn out as the psychopaths detonated themselves or became drone-splats, one by one. But these men spoke with an academic precision that put me in mind of a good graduate seminar. I even enjoyed their company, and that frightened me as much as anything else.

Mr. Wood nails it again when he observes their “academic precision.” For his piece he also interviewed London’s radical cleric Anjem Choudary, accurately articulating many of my own opinions on the man. Say what you will about Mr. Choudary, but he is not stupid and he is not psychotic. To say that he and his ideological allies are not “Islamic” is ludicrous and invites policy makers to embrace doomed strategies for dealing with them.

Mr. Wood offers sage advice to Mr. Obama when he says:

Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether. Barack Obama himself drifted into takfiri waters when he claimed that the Islamic State was “not Islamic”—the irony being that he, as the non-Muslim son of a Muslim, may himself be classified as an apostate, and yet is now practicing takfir against Muslims. Non-Muslims’ practicing takfir elicits chuckles from jihadists (“Like a pig covered in feces giving hygiene advice to others,” one tweeted).

When a U.S. president tells the American people not to take seriously the religious motivations of men who now control a land mass the size of the United Kingdom — in the heart of the Middle East — he is doing the free world a grave disservice.

Here is what I wrote Feb. 9:

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.

Here is what Mr. Wood said for his March article:

A few “lone wolf” supporters of the Islamic State have attacked Western targets, and more attacks will come. But most of the attackers have been frustrated amateurs, unable to immigrate to the caliphate because of confiscated passports or other problems. Even if the Islamic State cheers these attacks—and it does in its propaganda—it hasn’t yet planned and financed one. (The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January was principally an al‑Qaeda operation.) During his visit to Mosul in December, Jürgen Todenhöfer interviewed a portly German jihadist and asked whether any of his comrades had returned to Europe to carry out attacks. The jihadist seemed to regard returnees not as soldiers but as dropouts. “The fact is that the returnees from the Islamic State should repent from their return,” he said. “I hope they review their religion.”

Question: Why are we both coming to similar conclusions?

Answer: Because both of us don’t go around deluding ourselves that a lack of good office jobs is anywhere close to the primary driver for Islamic State recruitment. Taking these men and their interpretation of the Koran seriously yields the kind of information policymakers need to make sound decisions; telling them that the Islamic State group is not Islamic is a recipe for disaster.

If you get a chance, take the time to read “What ISIS Really Wants.” Mr. Wood’s piece for The Atlantic is superb. Unfortunately, the can’t same be said for the Obama administration’s attempts to deal with Islamic terrorists around the globe.

Germans cancel parade due to terror threat; honest debate on Islamic State still verboten in U.S.

Things are nicht so gut for Western Civilization these days. Paris suffered the Charlie Hebdo and kosher deli terror attacks in January, and on Saturday it was Denmark facing terror attacks at a cafe and a synagogue that left two dead and multiple people injured. A popular German festival was canceled today because a “man-caused disaster” (to borrow a phrase from the Obama administration), was expected.

The Associated Press reported Feb 15:

BERLIN (AP) — Police in the German city of Braunschweig cancelled a popular Carnival street parade on Sunday because of fears of an imminent Islamist terror attack.

Police spokesman Thomas Geese said police received credible information that there was a “concrete threat of an attack with an Islamist background” on Sunday’s parade and therefore called on all visitors to stay at home.

Geese said the parade was canceled less than 90 minutes before its scheduled start and that “many people arriving at the train station from out of town were already dressed up and very disappointed — but we didn’t want to take any risks.”

Braunschweig’s Carnival parade is the biggest one in northern Germany and draws around 250,000 visitors each year.

News of this planned act of terrorism comes only days after the Obama administration tried to say that an attack on a kosher deli was a “random” event that wasn’t targeting Jews, per se.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki had this incredibly bizarre exchange with Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee on Feb. 10:

Reporter: Does the administration believe that this was an anti-Jewish — an attack on the Jewish community in Paris?

Jen Psaki: I don’t think we’re going to speak on behalf of French authorities and what they believe was the situation at play here.

Reporter: If a guy goes into a kosher market and shoots it up he’s not looking for Buddhists, is he? […] I’m not sure I can understand how it is that you can’t say that this was a targeted attack.

Jen Psaki: I just don’t have more for you, Matt. It’s an issue for the French government to address.

Will the Obama administration say the synagogue attack was a “randomly” picked location that didn’t target Jews because five potentially non-Jewish police officers were wounded? Will the president go into an expanded lecture about the need to keep the Crusades in mind as we discuss who exactly threatened Berlin’s Braunschweig’s Carnival parade?

Think about it: 250,000 were told to stay home because of an imminent terror attack planned for Berlin this weekend — on top of the deadly terror attacks in Copenhagen — and yet it is a sure bet that when asked about it Mr. Obama will play a rhetorical game of “keep away” with the word ‘Islam.’

Meanwhile, ominous news continues to come out of Libya and Egypt. The New York Times reported Feb. 14 for its piece “Islamic State Sprouting Limbs Beyond Its Base”:

Although there is little or no public evidence that the Islamic State’s leaders in Syria and Iraq have practical control over its North African provinces, its influence is already apparent in their operations and is destabilizing the countries around them. A publication released by the central group last week included a photograph of fighters in Libya with its affiliate there parading 20 Egyptian Christian captives in the Islamic State’s trademark orange jumpsuits, indicating at least a degree of communication.

In Egypt, the Sinai-based extremist group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis sent emissaries to the Islamic State in Syria last year to seek financial support, weapons and tactical advice, as well as the publicity and recruiting advantages that might come with the Islamic State name, according to Western officials briefed on classified intelligence reports.

The U.S. Embassy in Libya — closed. The U.S. Embassy in Syria — closed. The U.S. Embassy in Yemen — closed. Notice a trend?

The Obama administration is like a bunch of high school kids who destroyed a portion of the family home while their parents were gone for a college reunion. When mom and dad call to check in, the kids say everything is all right. Then, after the discussion, they frantically resume trying to fix the disaster in time to pretend like nothing wrong ever happened.

The problem with that strategy is that it almost never works. Honesty is the best policy. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has opted for Buzzfeed selfie-stick health care videos and lectures on “terrible deeds” in the name of Christ instead of a frank discussion on the long-term security threats facing the nation.

Obama selfie stickUpdate: While writing this piece it turns out that Islamic State group beheaded 21 Christians in Libya and posted video of it online. How long will it take before President Obama reminds us that the Crusades were brutal?

Islamic State Christians beheadedLibya ISIL Christians killed