There Is No Plan To Destroy The Islamic State

Hillary Clinton presented her plan for defeating the Islamic State recently. It won't work. Nor will those advanced by her Republican opponents. [Credit: NY Daily News]

Hillary Clinton presented her plan for defeating the Islamic State recently. It won’t work. Nor will those advanced by her Republican opponents. [Credit: NY Daily News]

When pressed by a normally docile gaggle of White House reporters recently over whether he would consider changing his failed Syria strategy, President Obama reverted to form: he accused Republicans of religious bigotry and cruelty to children.

His political opponents, he said, believe that “only Christians, proven Christians, should be admitted” as refugees and that we “shouldn’t admit 3-year old-orphans.”

The President’s efforts to divert attention from his foreign policy debacles (which helped make orphans and refugees of three-year-olds) have so far fallen flat.  The vast majority of Americans has lost confidence in his campaign against the Islamic State.  A Washington Post poll found that 57 percent disapprove of the way he’s dealing with the terrorist group – including 46 percent who strongly disapprove – against only 35 percent who support him.

That public sentiment, of little interest to the President, is a leading concern for those vying to succeed him.  Even Bernie Sanders claims to have a plan to destroy the Islamic State. Though they differ in certain respects, most of these plans call for dropping more bombs against more targets from planes flying the flags of more countries (with the possible exception of Russia), providing more arms to factions we don’t really know and can’t really trust, and deploying more military “advisers” (not to be confused with “boots on the ground”) to the region.

All of them suggest that Islamic State can be vanquished with relative ease and at little cost.  All of them are blowing smoke. Continue reading

Winning By Not Winning In Iraq and Syria

U.S. airstrikes have slowed the progress of Islamic State fighters, but the war may drag on for years. Why that's good for us. [Credit: Telegraph]

U.S. airstrikes have slowed the progress of Islamic State fighters, but the war may drag on for years. Why that’s good for us. [Credit: Telegraph]

The President was asked a simple question a few weeks ago: are we winning the war against the Islamic State?

He wouldn’t answer the question directly, so I will.  We’re winning in Iraq and Syria by not winning.  The net effect of our actions has so far been to keep extremist Muslims of various ethnicities and sectarian passions engaged in war against … each other.  And that may be the best possible outcome in the circumstances. Continue reading

Iraq: In Search Of An Organizing Principle

The President has decided to fight jihadists threatening to kill Yazidis with bombs instead of hashtags. But it's not clear why. [Credit: Business Insider]

Sunni radicals are threatening to massacre an obscure ethnoreligious group known as Yazidis.  The President has decided to fight the jihadists with bombs instead of hashtags. But it’s not clear why. [Credit: Business Insider]

“Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.” Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Another August.  Another flirtation with war.  In the psychodrama that is the Obama Presidency, our hero vacillates between war and peace, detachment and intervention, riding out the storm and steering into its teeth.  The rest of us are left to guess whether he will respond to the next humanitarian crisis with bombs or hashtags.  There is, as Mrs. Clinton notes, no “organizing principle” to lend coherence to our foreign policy. Continue reading

President Bush Not To Blame For This Iraq Crisis

 

Iraq appears on the verge of civil war and some blame former President George W. Bush. Here's why they're wrong. [Credit: al Jazeera America]

Iraq appears on the verge of civil war and some blame former President George W. Bush. Here’s why they’re wrong. [Credit: al Jazeera America]

The Iraq civil war did not start under Obama, it started when Bush, Cheney and the neocons pulled the trigger to invade Iraq … . It was [the] status of force agreement, signed by Bush, that pledged to withdraw all US forces … Given the staggering cost of expense and lives we could not stay there “maybe a hundred years” as McCain said. Nor could we bleed hundreds of billions of dollars there every year. Obama promised to get us out of there, and he rightly did so … To attempt to blame anyone but Bush, Cheney and the neocons for the Iraq disaster is simply revisionism at its finest. —  Excerpted from a comment on my recent post on Iraq.

The Obama presidency’s leading malfeasance lies in its belief that finding someone to blame for a problem is as good as solving it.  So it is little surprise that my recent post on Iraq, in which I argued against US military intervention, would spur comments that former President George W. Bush is to blame for the renewed fighting. Continue reading

The Good News Pope Francis Missed

Pope Francis's inaugural encyclical celebrated the gospel and excoriated markets.  But did he overlook some very good news?  [Credit: Telegraph]

Pope Francis’s inaugural encyclical celebrated the gospel and excoriated markets. But did he overlook some very good news? [Credit: Telegraph]

In writing about the joy of the gospel, Pope Francis overlooked some very good news – about markets, about compassion, about poverty.

His first encyclical (Evangelii Gaudium, “The Joy of The Gospel”) has drawn attention less for its focus on missions than for its economic pronouncements. President Obama favorably cited the document in his recent remarks on economic mobility, while some conservative commentators have offered up harsh criticisms. Continue reading

How Washington Changed Obama

Washington has changed the President's hair color, as it has with his predecessors.  But the changes run deeper.  [Credit: Post Chronicle]

Washington has changed the President’s hair color, as it did his predecessors’. But the changes it has made in him run deeper. [Credit: Post Chronicle]

“So eight years ago, I came here to deliver the commencement address for the class of 2005. Things were a little different back then. For example, I had no gray hair. Or a motorcade. Didn’t even have a prompter.”

President Obama, Knox College, Galesburg (IL), July 24, 2013

Many things have changed in the eight years that elapsed between President Obama’s two Galesburg addresses. But perhaps none of those things has changed as profoundly as he. Continue reading