Back in 2001, when it was believed that US and allied forces had cornered Osama Bin Laden at Tora Bora along the Afghan-Pakistan border, many critics accused President Bush of “outsourcing” the campaign to kill or capture Bin Laden when the al Qaeda kingpin appeared to escape from Afghan militias who may or may not have been relentlessly pursuing him.
Today, America appears to be repeating that error, but on a much larger scale. And against a more dangerous enemy.
President Obama’s grand strategy for defeating the Islamic State (erroneously referred to still as ISIS or ISIL by some, including the president himself) is to use a combination of air strikes and local “rebel” forces in Syria to fight the Jihadists.
It’s a bad plan. There is a virtual consensus in the intelligence and military communities that it will not result in the defeat of the Islamic State in any reasonable timeframe.
But worst of all, there is a basic flaw in the reasoning that reveals that President Obama still does not take the Islamic State threat seriously enough and his heart may not be in the fight.
The Islamic State is a grave threat to American security and the lives of our citizens. It has over 31,000 fighters from around the world, including from right here in the USA and several European nations with “no-visa” access to our homeland. The Islamic State has repeatedly threatened the US homeland, both explicitly and implicitly.
As such, America needs to attack and destroy that threat with all the necessary might that a superpower can bring to bear. Instead, President Obama has chosen to train and arm foreigners with whom at best we have extremely limited common interests. Moreover, these so-called “moderate” rebels have, at the very least, questionable loyalties.
There is already abundant evidence that the only effective groups fighting the Assad regime are Jihadists like the Islamic State and the Al Qaeda-backed Al Nusra Front. The so-called Free Syrian Army has been largely ineffective and many of its members have migrated over to the Jihadists.
Putting off defeating the Islamic State militarily until we can stand up a force of anti-Assad rebels who are also interested in fighting fellow Muslims is a fool’s errand.
Sooner or later, we are going to be locked in mortal combat with Islamic State forces. Unfortunately, some of that combat may occur right here in the streets of America or in our skies above America.
By declaring ahead of time to the enemy what his intentions are and, especially what he is NOT willing to do, President Obama has lost the initiative. Telling the world that you have ruled out American “boots on the ground,” tells the world that you either don’t take the threat from the Islamic State seriously or that you simply don’t have your heart in the fight to make the hard decisions that great leaders have always had to make throughout history to defend our republic and its people.
Perhaps President Obama’s heart simply isn’t in this fight. After all, he entered office apologizing to the Islamic world in particular for America’s past actions and made it clear he had no desire to be at war with Muslims anywhere—not even in Afghanistan, which he had referred to as the “good war” on the campaign trail.
Whatever the reasons for the terrible plan that Team Obama has concocted to attempt to deal with the Islamic State, it has likely sentenced us to a longer war than we should have to fight to defeat the Islamic State—a war that will mean more American, and probably also civilian, casualties. Worst of all, by refusing to take total war to the enemy to destroy them as quickly as possible, Obama is increasing the chances that the enemy will have opportunities to bring the war to our shores.