Psychology of War – Obama Has No Idea What ISIS is About

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There’s been a lot of talk in the press about whether or not Obama and Kerry characterize our conflict with ISIS as a war. Critics want to pin the administration down when it comes to how they view the enemy, and the administration doesn’t want to get caught declaring war without the approval of Congress. It’s a meaningless dance that has nonetheless exposed Obama’s complete misunderstanding of who ISIS is and what they want.

At a recent dinner with several of his trusted foreign policy advisers, Obama reportedly complained that journalists were portraying him as a “wan, professorial president,” unable to act when faced with the specter of real-world evil. It’s surprising that he would just now get around to noticing that portrayal, but – since he usually disregards critics as nothing more than “haters” – maybe it’s to be expected. The piece in the New York Times that reported his concerns, though, went on to make that exact case against him.

Unfortunately, Mr. President, your own words have exposed you as the kind of professorial liberal you deny being.

According to the report, Obama has mused that he doesn’t understand the ISIS strategy. Deciding that he would speculate in a bit of play-pretend, he told his advisers that if he was in a position to advise ISIS, he would not have advocated for the beheading of hostages. Instead, he would have set them free with notes pinned to their chests that said, “Stay out of here, this is none of your business.” If they’d done that, he mused, it might have been difficult to rally support for American intervention.

This thought exercise exposes just how little Obama understands the enemy we’re faced with. As smart as he supposedly is, he can’t see that he’s falling right into their trap. Unless ISIS leadership is as arrogant and stupid and Obama believes, they already knew what the American reaction would be to their videos. How obvious could it be? Has America ever backed down from that kind of direct antagonism?

No, ISIS wants nothing more than for America to declare war against them. And Obama’s half-assed airstrike strategy is exactly the route they hoped he would take. After all, what better chance is there to draw in innocent casualties? Collateral damage in the Muslim world is exactly what this group needs to strengthen their worldwide numbers. Don’t think for a minute ISIS leadership has missed the lessons of the Israel-Palestine conflict. They see how the Palestinians have increased their worldwide support with every demonstration of force from the bigger, richer enemy. Obama can insist at every turn that ISIS is not Islamic; everything they do and say contradicts him.

Is it possible that ISIS’s stated goals of flying their caliphate flag in the White House are real? More than possible. But they know they can’t go toe-to-toe with the entire world in a firefight. The more people they can attract with propaganda and sensationalistic violence, however, the better chance they have. That’s the aim of these beheadings. For Obama to characterize them as a tactical mistake shows how far we are from eliminating this threat. We can only hope that once some of ISIS’s leaders are captured, we won’t turn them loose with Post-Its stuck to their chests.