Back in September, Obama created a political problem for himself by saying “we don’t have a strategy yet” to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
On Monday, speaking at the end of a G-7 summit in Germany that included a meeting with new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, he rearranged the words and added an adjective, but said the same thing about training Iraqi troops to fight ISIL: “We don’t yet have a complete strategy,” Obama said.
The nuances of military planning don’t make for good sound bites.
To critics, this kind of statement is Obama admitting exactly what they accuse him of: that he’s a president neither prepared for what he’s facing in the Middle East nor willing to do what now needs to be done.
“What has President Obama been doing for the last 10 months?” read a statement put out by the Republican National Committee immediately after Monday’s news conference.
The comments immediately lit up 2016 Republican presidential candidates.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign put out a statement saying still not having a strategy is a “failure of leadership.”
“If I were commander in chief, it would not take nine months to work with our military leaders to develop a complete strategy to destroy ISIS and protect American security interests and values,” Perry said.
“10 months in and Pres. Obama’s anti-ISIS action has failed. We should unleash our air power to destroy ISIS,” tweeted Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Jeb Bush said on Twitter: “In Germany, Obama admitted again what has been clear for a while, he has no ISIS strategy. A serious effort to defeat them is needed.”
And South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham weighed in calling it “commander-in-chief malpractice.”
“It’s long past time we upped our game to confront this dangerous and growing threat to the American homeland,” Graham said in a statement.
Obama’s approach, they say, is more evidence of a commander in chief who’s consistently slow on the uptake — Obama called ISIL the “JV team” of terrorists just months before they overran the Iraq-Syrian border, seizing major territory and resources and executing American hostages.
The reason that there isn’t a complete strategy so far, Obama said, is that “it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis as well about how recruitment takes place, how that training takes place. The details of that are not yet worked out.”
Obama added that the Pentagon is busy drawing up plans in consultation with the Iraqis, and once he’s brought a plan that he can sign off on, he’ll make the details public.
The gaffe comes at a moment when the White House is trying to push back on a stream of bad news coming out of Iraq, insisting that despite setbacks, the overall story on combating ISIL is one of progress.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter created a momentary commotion when he said in an interview last month that Iraqi forces showed “no will to fight.” That prompted a rushed call from Vice President Joe Biden to the Iraqi prime minister, to recognize “the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past 18 months in Ramadi and elsewhere,” the White House said in its official read-out of the call.
What is lost in all this is that Obama has no will to fight. He is either incompetent, or is a coward or is wanting ISIS to succeed...... perhaps to allow the Iranians to take over Iraq. Some people say this is crazy, but why else would Obama want Iran to have a nuclear weapon if he wasn't an Iranian Manchurin candidate,...or better termed,...an "Tehran candidate".
Nor are Iraqis the only ones causing headaches, Obama said. They can’t get the Turkish government on the same page for securing the border with Syria, leading to a constant flow of new fighters, even as they capture and kill ISIL forces.
I bet if the U.S. threatened to withhold all foreign aid to Turkey and to quit our mutual defense pact, then Turkey would play ball, especially since Erodgen, the Turkish PM, suffered some political defeats in last weeks elections.