President Obama has just submitted his request for Congress to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State. Does this mean the President is finally getting serious about waging an all-out war to crush the Radical Islamic force commonly known as “ISIS” or “ISIL”? Does he have a strategy to win.
I wish the answer was yes. Unfortunately, I am not convinced. As with his Iran policy, the President appears to want to look like he is taking serious actions, without actually doing anything decisive to solve the grave problems we face.
Let me explain.
First, some facts:
- “The Obama administration has informed lawmakers that the president will seek a formal authorization to fight the Islamic State that would prohibit the use of ‘enduring offensive ground forces’ and limit engagement to three years,” reports the New York Times. “The approach offers what the White House hopes is a middle way on Capitol Hill for those on the right and left who remain deeply skeptical of its plans to thwart extremist groups.”
- “The sharpest debate is likely to focus on the prohibition of ‘enduring offensive ground operations,'” notes the Times, adding that “the omission of any language setting geographic boundaries appeared to anticipate the possibility of attacking the group should it gain a foothold in Lebanon or Jordan, which has fought off sporadic attacks from Islamic State fighters. It could also be used to address future threats from small bands of violent Islamist militants in Libya, Yemen and other Middle Eastern and North African countries that have ‘rebranded’ their identities to take the Islamic State name, and benefit from its notoriety, American officials said.”
- To read the President’s draft resolution to authorize the use of military force (AUMF), please click here.
Second, some analysis:
- Yes, in keeping with the U.S. Constitution, Congress should absolutely pass a resolution to authorize use of “all means necessary” to defeat ISIS.
- But this isn’t what the President has requested. The President is not seeking the use of all tools to defeat this barbaric enemy.
- Rather, his request specifically rules out use of ground forces, even if that is what our commanders deem necessary to protect us from ISIS.
- Six months into his campaign of limited bombing runs against ISIS, the President and his team have still not developed a serious and comprehensive strategy to truly defeat the Islamic State and protect the American people and our allies from the scourge of Radical Islam.
- Indeed, the Obama administration refuses to name our enemy “Radical Islam.”
- This AUMF request is another example of the President engaging in half-measures and trying to “lead from behind” in face of sheer evil, an enemy that is beheading Americans, engaging in genocide, and threatening our security and that of our allies.
- Tragically, by not taking firm and decisive action against our enemy, the President is foolishly creating conditions for “the gathering storm” of Iran, ISIS and other Radical Islamic to kill many Americans at home and abroad.
- The President’s policy is also putting our allies such as NATO, Israel, friendly Arab states (like Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Morocco), and others at severe risk of being attacked by ISIS.
- In The Third Target, I paint a worst-case scenario of what could happen if an American President doesn’t take decisive action against ISIS. I pray what I have written does not come to pass. Indeed, I hope that the debate over the AUMF resolution will help persuade President Obama to take wise and courageous steps to defend America and our allies before it is too late.
Third, some experts:
A growing number of experts on both sides of the aisle say the President has seriously and consistently misunderstood the nature of the ISIS threat, has repeatedly mishandled the situation, and has not shown prudent leadership in Iraq, Afghanistan or throughout the Middle East.
- Leon Panetta, the President’s former Defense Secretary, recently wrote a book and gave a series of interviews asserting that the President has not listened to solid military advice. For example, Panetta said the President unwisely withdrew all U.S. military forces out of Iraq in 2011, against the counsel of his top advisors, and thus enabled ISIS to rise. The President “created a vacuum in terms of the ability of that country to better protect itself, and it’s out of that vacuum that ISIS began to breed,” noted Panetta.
- Robert Gates, another former Obama Defense Secretary, has also written a book castigating the President’s leadership. “In scathing memoir, former SecDef Bob Gates describes his ‘seething’ anger against the President & his approach towards leadership and Mideast wars,” I wrote in a blog post in January of 2014.
In this context, I commend the following to your attention.
- “America’s Strategy Deficit,” a must-read op-ed by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal.
- “National Security Threats,” a recent U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with three expert witnesses: General Jack Keane (ret.), former Vice Chief of the U.S. Army; General James Mattis (ret.), former commander of CENTCOM; and Admiral William “Fox” Fallon (ret.). I watched the entire hearing and highly recommend all of it. But most important was General Keane’s testimony on how al Qaeda/ISIS has grown four-fold in the past six years. (CSPAN video)
- “National Security Strategy,” a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with three additional expert witnesses: Former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, and Madeline Albright. They focused on the Iran nuclear threat, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the ISIS threat. Kissinger and Shultz are particularly helpful while Albright says that global climate change is the most serious threat facing U.S. national security. (CSPAN video)
- UPDATE: “Napoleon famously said that in warfare if you vow to take Vienna—take Vienna,” notes a new Wall Street Journal editorial published on Thursday. “President Obama ’s version of that aphorism might be—on the way to Vienna stop to summer in Salzburg, only use air power, and if the fighting isn’t over in a couple of years call the whole thing off. How else to interpret the amazing draft of a resolution that Mr. Obama sent to Congress Wednesday requesting an authorization to use military force against Islamic State? The language would so restrict the President’s war-fighting discretion that it deserves to be called the President Gulliver resolution. Tie me down, Congress, please. Instead of inviting broad political support for defeating ISIS, the language would codify the President’s war-fighting ambivalence.”
Yes, I am critical of the President’s policies. But I refuse to be a cynic. I am praying for him and believe he is smart enough to change direction. The Bible is full of stories of kings whose hearts and policies were changed by the living God. Mr. Obama has two more years in office and we need him to make important course corrections before it is too late. Please join me in faithfully praying for the President and his senior advisors.