The don’t-call-it-a-war against ISIS/ISIL is now underway, and for the sake of our men and women in uniform let’s hope we’re getting the bugs out early. Because the early headlines don’t exactly inspire confidence.
Here’s video of White House Spokesman Josh Earnest unable to define victory. “I didn’t bring my Webster’s Dictionary” he flippantly says when asked what victory over ISIS/ISIL looks like.
Here’s President Obama admitting we “underestimated” the threat, as well as his contradictory Syria policy. Basically, Obama is now arming the very people he wanted us to fight in Syria a year ago. For example, the Associated Press says we’re now helping Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, who is accused of war crimes and who the American people were told we had to topple last fall.
And now House Speaker John Boehner says we may have “no choice” but to put boots on the ground, contrary to President Obama’s promise we would not do so. A promise 72% of Americans already believe the president will break. “At the end of the day I think it’s gonna take more than airstrikes to drive (ISIS/ISIL) outta there,” Boehner said.
In a word – yikes.
But that’s not the worst of it.
The left-leaning Daily Beast has a scathing story quoting a former senior Pentagon official, who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni Jihadists in Iraq and Syria. In response to claims from President Obama the intelligence community “underestimated” the ISIS/ISIL threat, this former senior Pentagon official says “either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bull-****ting.”
The Daily Beast also cites House and Senate intelligence committee hearings going back to January that included testimony from people like Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He testified before Congress that ISIS “will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.” Even more precarious, Flynn noted the amorphous environment within an Islamic culture when he stated other groups “appear willing to work tactically with ISIS as they share common anti-government goals.”
In other words, today’s extremists were yesterday’s moderates. So we need to arm new moderates to fight the old moderates, who are today’s extremists. Got that? Good. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Furthermore, back in February Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the rise of ISIS was “a major concern” because it could “establish a safe haven (for Jihadists) and the real prospect that Syria could become a launching point for attacks against the United States and other nations.” Its amazing Sen. Feinstein seemingly has better intelligence than the commander-in-chief, and months in advance no less.
This lack of leadership could be a major factor in the sobering results to an independent survey of more than 5,000 enlisted Navy personnel released on Friday. The Navy Times summed up the survey’s findings this way:
Force-wide morale is “quite low” and sailors don’t trust senior leaders to handle the problems facing the Navy, from long and unpredictable deployments to tight budgets and proposed pay changes. The survey, taken by 5,536 Navy personnel, reported that nearly half the enlisted force said they distrust senior leaders, and 40 percent of officers said they shared similar distrust. Even more alarming, only 27 percent of survey takers said the morale in the Navy was either “good” or “excellent.”
Even the good news is mixed.
Remember when President George W. Bush was mocked for “only” having 40 nations in his coalition for the invasion of Iraq in 2003? Now the Obama White House is touting the inclusion of Britain, Belgium, and Denmark in its ISIS/ISIL coalition, even though those three nations refused to join any direct intervention in Syria.
USA Today has a story with the favorable headline “Syrian Civilians in Raqqa Cheer U.S. Bombing.” But if you read through it, the same civilians who are cheering at the beginning strike a cautionary tone later on when it comes to hitting urban areas that are ISIS/ISIL strongholds, and may result in civilian casualties.
Not all of this is President Obama’s fault.
As we’ve learned post-9/11, the Middle East is a complex place. Several of these Muslim countries have similar dominionist goals. They just want to be the ones calling the shots and not the other wannabe caliphate. There is widespread moral confusion within Islam itself, as mainly impoverished people vacillate back-and-forth between extremist to victim of extremism, depending on what’s best for their survival at the time. Then there are vicious dictators who shroud themselves with the Q’uran when it’s convenient to rally their people against “the Great Satan.” A worthwhile distraction from the fact they’re often being oppressed by a ruler(s) also claiming to be Muslim. We are not the first world power in history to get stuck in quick-sand over there.
However, the lack of moral certainty over there means we absolutely must have moral clarity from those calling the shots over here. Right now we don’t, and that absolutely is President Obama’s fault.
(Steve Deace is a nationally-syndicated talk show host and also the author of the new book “Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.” You can “like” him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.)