Obama’s Endless War by Bing West, National Review
On September 10, 2014, President Obama pledged to destroy ISIS. Three years earlier, on June 22, 2011, he declared that “the tide of war is receding.” But since he made that claim, more than half a million people have been killed just in Syria and Iraq. Currently, ISIS numbers about 20,000 fighters and controls an area of thousands of square miles in Syria and Iraq populated by roughly 4 million Sunnis.
How, specifically, does the Obama administration plan to destroy ISIS? Here’s an answer from a Pentagon spokesman: “By degrading them in Phase One and then dismantling them in Phase Two, we believe that that will set us up for Phase Three, which, of course, is the ultimate defeat of this enemy.” There are two problems with that approach. First, the administration has ruled out the use of U.S. troops in combat — which means that “dismantling” the enemy is unlikely, never mind defeating it. Second, defeating ISIS should itself be only an intermediate goal: The ultimate goal is a stable, pro-Western government after ISIS. Our huge mistake in Iraq in 2003 was not having a sensible plan for who was to govern after we defeated Saddam’s forces. By not having a plan for what happens after ISIS, the U.S. administration is today repeating that mistake.
In Obama’s view, ISIS is not a serious threat. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, after interviewing the president, reported that “Obama frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than . . . falls in bathtubs do.”…