Pants on Fire


Obama’s ISIS Solution: Slap Designer Labels On Ugly And Call It A Winner

Blog From
September 11th, 2014

LFU_PantsonFire_AshPile_vFLast night, President Obama presented his ISIS strategy to the Nation in a prime time broadcast from the White House. Taking a page from John Molloy’s Dress for Success tome, Mr. Obama dressed up demonstrably failed polices in garb dripping in designer labels. He called the new look “success”. He is wrong and the Country deserves much better, beginning with the fabric of truth.


In order to assess Obama’s solution properly, we have to travel back in time to August 21, a few days after James Foley was gruesomely beheaded. Obama made the announcement and was on the links hitting his first drive a mere 8 minutes later. He reaped a whirlwind of criticism for callousness and his poll numbers on foreign policy began a steep decline.


On September 4, two days after Steven Sotloff was beheaded, Obama admitted to the Nation, “we don’t have a strategy yet”. He was referring to ISIS in Syria but the statement was generally recognized as a broader policy lapse. Those poll numbers sank lower and lower.


Last night, seven days after confessing to no strategy in Syria, the President announced his strategy for dealing with everything ISIS. He presented a four-prong approach. Most of it is warmed over tactics. None of it, separately or in combination, has worked as Obama claimed.


First, American airstrikes in Iraq will become offensive rather than defensive. In other words, ISIS will be attacked because it is ISIS rather than only to protect American advisors or innocent civilians. Airstrikes against ISIS will also commence in Syria.


Second, American advisors will be sent to support local ground troops in both countries. The Syrian opposition, dismissed by Obama in June as farmers and dentists unworthy of our support, will now get munitions and other equipment. Either they quickly became battle-hardened or Obama’s excuse for inaction was so much empty rhetoric conveniently forgotten.


The third and fourth prongs are continuations of standard counterterrorist tactics to prevent ISIS attacks and humanitarian aid to civilians. Of course, American troops will not be the ground and the prongs will be executed by bunches of our allies, too.


In one speech, Obama managed to pin four mislabels on his policy donkey in an effort to dress it up as something else. First, he claimed that America is safer under his leadership. Second, he claimed that American leadership is solely responsible for giving the Ukrainian People the right to determine their own destiny despite Russian aggression. What a huge whopper that last one is. The U.S. has little direct trade with Russia and correspondingly little leverage. The EU, on the other hand, can and has, albeit reluctantly, put the bite of economic pain on Russia for Putin’s belligerence.


Worst of all in context, the President last night identified Yemen and Somalia as shining examples of the successful use of his new ISIS policy. Those claims are so undeniably false that he had to be kidding.


In truth, Yemen is, by all other accounts, an example of failed U.S. policy. One expert from Princeton University summarized actions taken by the Obama administration there as policy adrift. The acknowledged danger to U.S. interests is Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). To combat it, Obama dramatically increased drone, missile and other airstrikes. This is, at best, a delaying tactic until the Yemeni military can act.


In the meantime, American air-borne attacks have strengthened AQAP’s hand in the region. While drones may have worked against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the dynamic in Yemen is dramatically different. The Obama administration has not adapted to the difference. AQAP forces have more than tripled in number since 2009 because of our assaults.


Even the New York Times assesses U.S. policy in Yemen as confused and ineffective. Embarrassingly, it appears that the U.S. is launching airstrikes based on Saudi and Yemeni intelligence agencies. We have no idea whether U.S. actions are being directed to protect Arab-only concerns.


Chasing Al Qaeda in Somalia is a bigger fiasco from the U.S. perspective than the debacle in Yemen. Branding it as a success is less honest, if that’s even possible.


The question is not why the U.S. policies and actions Obama identifies as successes are really failures. The question is why he persists in labeling them as successes. Dressed up malarkey is still malarkey.

Posted in Pants on Fire