Despite Paris Attack & Criticism From All Sides, Obama Offers No Change In Strategy In Fighting ISIS
|by Steve Benson, Arizona Republic (2014)|
The House will reconvene at 2 PM. No recorded votes unil 6:30 pm.
The Senate will reconvene at 3 PM today. At 5:30 PM, the Senate will vote on confirmation of the nomination of LaShann Hall to be US District Judge for the Eastern District of New York.
Obama Rejects Calls For Change" In Strategy To Fight Islamic State
U.S. News reports, "Five men who have been held for more than 13 years at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been released and sent to the United Arab Emirates, the Pentagon said Sunday. The five Yemeni men were accepted for resettlement in the Persian Gulf nation after U.S. authorities determined they no longer posed a threat, the Defense Department said in a statement. Their release brings the Guantanamo prison population to 107. The released men, who arrived in the UAE on Saturday, were identified as Ali Ahmad Muhammad al-Razihi, Khalid Abd-al-Jabbar Muhammad Uthman al-Qadasi, Adil Said al-Hajj Ubayd al-Busays, Sulayman Awad Bin Uqayl al-Nahdi, and Fahmi Salem Said al-Asani."
Dan Greenberg, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, noted: "Ali Ahmad Muhammad al-Razihi was an Osama bin Laden (OBL) bodyguard. There was a good deal of pushback to releasing him, but Barack Hussein Obama got his way. Again. The president has released a number of OBL's bodyguards already. Al-Razihi is listed as "high risk", but ISIS needs a few good "high risk" men."
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee released the following statement in response to recent comments by President Obama: "President Obama's wimpish and amateurish response to Islamic jihadists this morning reveals we have a Cub Scout for Commander in Chief instead of someone who is capable of defending America and unleashing something more than a strongly worded letter through the UN. It's embarrassing when a left-wing socialist French President shows strength and determination to eradicate animals who are slaughtering innocent civilians while our President lectures us on the moral necessity to open our borders to tens of thousands of un-vetted people from the Middle East. France has closed its borders and all President Obama wants to do is close Gitmo."
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a different take. US News noted, "The night after the most deadly attack on France since World War II, Hillary Clinton called the fight against the barbaric Islamic State group an essential one, but stressed it should not be led by the United States. 'It cannot be an American fight,' she said Saturday evening during the second Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa. 'We will support those who take the fight to ISIS.'
Politico writes today, “President Barack Obama on Monday pushed back against calls for a dramatic rethink in the operation against the Islamic State, ruling out U.S. ground troops despite the ‘terrible and sickening setback’ of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris.
“Obama, speaking during a G-20 press conference in Antalya, Turkey, at times appeared to lose patience with repeated questions about whether he underestimated the threat of ISIL. Obama has been on the defensive after saying last week that Islamic State’s ground operation had largely been ‘contained,’ a comment that came hours before the brutal attack in France that claimed the lives of more than 130 and injured hundreds more. He also infamously referred to the terrorist network in the past as the equivalent of a junior varsity team. . . .
“At times, he responded to reporters' repeated questions with mild irritation. ‘All right, this is another variation on the same question. And I guess, let me try it one last time,’ he told one.
“If ‘folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan,’ Obama remarked, an implicit rebuke of some Republican presidential candidates. . . . ‘If they think somehow that their advisers are better than my joint chiefs of staff or my generals on the ground, I want to meet them. And we can have that debate,’ the president said . . . . ‘What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect the people in the region who are getting killed and to protect our allies and people like France. I’m too busy for that,’” the president said.
Yesterday, Politico reported, “The White House vowed no major shift in U.S. strategy in the fight against the Islamic State on Sunday in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Paris, despite clamors for change from key Republicans.
“Making the rounds on the major Sunday morning news shows, President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, said there would be an ‘intensification’ of U.S. war efforts against the Islamic State, but no major shift in U.S. strategy, such as sending large numbers of combat troops to Iraq and Syria to fight ISIL.”
Meanwhile, according to Reuters, “Islamic State warned in a new video on Monday that countries taking part in air strikes against Syria would suffer the same fate as France, and threatened to attack in Washington. The video, which appeared on a site used by Islamic State to post its messages, begins with news footage of the aftermath of Friday's Paris shootings in which at least 129 people were killed.”
The Wall Street Journal editors are fed up. They write, “President Obama on Sunday promised to ‘redouble’ U.S. efforts against Islamic State, which shows he isn’t deaf to the political impact of Friday’s murderous assault in Paris. But why should anyone believe him? After years of dismissing the rising terror threat, Mr. Obama needs an epiphany if he doesn’t want to be remembered as the President who allowed radical Islam to spread and prosper.
“For seven years Mr. Obama has used the unpopularity of the Iraq war as a shield for his retreat from antiterror leadership and the Middle East. His periodic drone strikes and his most notable security success, the Osama bin Laden raid, obscured the jihadist danger growing in the wake of America’s departure from Iraq and abdication in Syria. . . .
“Now Americans can see clearly the spreading infection from Islamic State and a resurgent al Qaeda. It isn’t merely a regional threat, as Mr. Obama once claimed. Its offshoots have spread into North Africa across the Middle East to Afghanistan. . . . Islamic State also isn’t the ‘jayvee’ terror team, as Mr. Obama once claimed. Western intelligence believes its sympathizers in Sinai took down a Russian airliner. Its bombs explode day after day against civilian targets, this past week in Beirut and a Christian convent in Iraq. . . .
“The question now is what America’s President is going to do to prevent more Paris-like carnage, including attacks on U.S. soil. He can start by taking the political restraints off the U.S. military’s campaign against Islamic State. Turkey and the Sunni Arabs haven’t committed more to the fight because they don’t believe Mr. Obama is committed. France launched air strikes against the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa on Sunday, but the U.S. should have been hitting those targets long ago.”
Indeed, The Washington Post pointed out on Saturday, “The horror in Paris, coming just weeks after the downing of a Russian jetliner in Egypt, underscores the risks of a strategy that relies heavily on local forces to defeat the Islamic State with American backing.
“The core of President Obama’s strategy is using U.S. military air power to contain and degrade the Islamic State until local forces are ready to take the fight to the group. It’s an approach that acknowledges the president’s reluctance to be drawn into another major ground war in the Middle East and his belief that U.S. military power can’t by itself secure a lasting victory in Iraq and Syria.
“The Paris attacks suggest that the Islamic State and its affiliates may have a broader reach and pose a deadlier threat to the West than intelligence officials and the Obama administration had previously believed to be the case. . . . The Paris attacks could force the president to adopt a strategy that is more focused on destroying the group’s global reach beyond Iraq and Syria.”
President Obama’s strategic choices are even taking fire from Democrats today. According to Politico, “Sen. Dianne Feinstein sharply contradicted President Barack Obama on Monday, disagreeing with his claim that the Islamic State is ‘contained.’
“‘I've never been more concerned,’ the California Democrat and Intelligence Committee ranking member told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Monday. ‘I read the intelligence faithfully. ISIL is not contained ISIL is expanding.’ ‘They just put out a video saying it is their intent to attack this country. I think we have to be prepared,’ she continued. On Monday, ISIL warned it could attack Washington if the U.S. participated in France's response to the events in Paris. . . .
“While she said didn't know the exact number of troops that were needed in Syria, Feinstein urged President Obama to send more than the few dozen he has announced sending so far. ‘We certainly need more than 50 specials ops and we need the ability to really make a difference on the ground,’ she said.”
The WSJ editors touch on another critical area of the fight against terror that the president needs to change course on. “A similar policy reversal will be needed at home. From his refusal to speak clearly about the Islamist nature of the threat to his looming decision to close Guantanamo, Mr. Obama’s every instinct has been to suggest that America will be safer if we stop provoking jihadists and treat them as common criminals. Paris shows how mistaken that is.
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