President Obama has begun his fail-slowly strategy, a term coined by journalist and commentator Brit Hume.
Mr. Obama is not taking a serious approach to crushing ISIS though the strikes in Syria last night hold some promise. His approach has been to manage ISIS. That seems to still be the strategy though he said he will destroy them but it will be over the long term.
From the White House lawn this morning, he said “We’re going to do what’s necessary to take the fight to this terrorist group.”
He then headed to the United Nations General Assembly to tout the bombing and the coalition.
There were eight airstrikes last evening targeting training camps, a munitions production facility, a communication building, and command and control facilities.
It still doesn’t sound like a serious campaign.
Daily Mail reported that 200,000 Kurds from Syria have fled to Turkey with many having come over this past weekend as ISIS descends on Kobane which borders Turkey. Riots are now breaking out between Syrians and Turks. Kurds are surrounded on three sides in Kobane but we have not offered to help.
As Mr. Obama said in his recent interview with Tom Friedman of the New York Times, he does not want the U.S. to come out as victors against the Middle East radical Islamists.
“At the end of the day,” the president told Friedman, “the biggest threat to America — the only force that can really weaken us — is us. We have so many things going for us right now as a country — from new energy resources to innovation to a growing economy — but, he said, we will never realize our full potential unless our two parties adopt the same outlook that we’re asking of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds or Israelis and Palestinians: No victor, no vanquished and work together.”
“The only states doing well, like Tunisia, I’ve argued, have done so because their factions adopted the principle of no victor, no vanquished. Once they did, they didn’t need outside help.”
President Obama should be congratulated for forming a coalition of five Sunni Arab states – the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. However, it is conveniently right before the election.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia have funded al Qaeda, Hamas and ISIS for years. It is amazing that they and three other Sunni states have joined with the U.S. to attack other Sunnis. All five have large numbers of jihadists in their populations.
However, Turkey, the most important player in the region did not join the coalition. Turkey has the most powerful air force in the region and they have the most effective infantry.
Turkey can’t help the coalition because they themselves have sent jihadists into Syria. They don’t know which of their jihadists have joined ISIS. They can’t appear to be helping the U.S.
The bombing began last night. Khorasan was also struck. Khorasan poses an immediate and imminent threat to the United States (they have been an immediate threat since 2009, since the underwear bomber, since the Christmas Day bomber and so on).
Khorasan’s membership includes the infamous bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who has been wanted for years of bombing, including, more recently, undetectable bombs such as that worn by the underwear bomber.
The coalition did not join the U.S. in bombing Khorasan, only ISIS.
ISIS poses a threat to these nations also.
Syria was notified beforehand that the strikes were coming, not directly, but through their U.N. special envoy.
Today’s bombing – 20 strikes to date – was aimed at ISIS headquarters.
Air strikes won’t be enough to stop ISIS. The time it took to begin has allowed ISIS to prepare. There are reports that they were seen moving large equipment for the last two weeks. They can hide easily and they had two weeks notice.
ISIS has vowed to get even with the U.S. and the coalition but they now have to choose from six targets, not simply one. However, the U.S. is still the prime target.
Mr. Obama hopes to use the Iraqi Army and the Free Syrian Army as his ground troops, a plan which won’t work because of the ineffectiveness of the Iraqi army and the questionable composition of the Free Syrian Army.
An unknown number of the Free Syrian Army are jihadists, including al Qaeda (al Nusra Front, al Zawahiri’s Syrian arm) and ISIS.
Of the strategies Mr. Obama could have chosen, he chose the fail-slowly strategy.
Mr. Obama said it would take years as do all feckless, half-hearted plans.
The much-touted strikes in Iraq are not robust. Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard, speaking on Special Report last evening, said, “A CENTCOM report out today [stated] that the air strikes destroyed 2 ISIL vehicles, an ISIL tank, and damaged an ISIL Humvee. That’s not a big campaign. Four air strikes, a hundred and ninety total over the past 42 days. If you go back and look at the campaign in Kosovo. NATO conducted more than ten thousand air strikes, one hundred and thirty-four per day over 78 days…there’s a disconnect between what we’re seeing them do overseas and the way they’re talking about it here.”
Mr. Obama never made a serious attempt to work out a status of forces agreement in Iraq and began the preparations to pull out troops before one meeting took place to discuss it. When the meeting did take place – the one meeting – it was with low-level officials. Iraqis knew the U.S. was not serious.