Blame Game: Obama Rolls Out ISIS Excuses
“The buck stops here,” said President Harry Truman so many years ago. A quaint philosophy in these times. Certainly, it’s not one to which our current president subscribes. Never was that more apparent than it was Monday in Germany, where Obama sought to blame anyone but himself for America’s failure to defeat the Islamic State.
“We don’t yet have a complete strategy,” Obama admitted, echoing comments he made back in September, “because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis as well, about how recruitment takes place, how that training takes place.”
Blame #1 – The Iraqis
The president is eager to shift responsibility to the patchwork Iraqi army. To be sure, there are problems. As CNN’s Fareed Zaharia pointed out, Iraq’s government is perceived as almost wholly Shiite in its composition. “If you don’t make concessions to the Sunnis,” he said, “bring them into the government, then you’re building up what is going to be seen by the Sunnis as a Shiite army.” This sectarianism leads many Sunnis to view ISIS as the lesser of two evils.
Blame #2 – The Pentagon
“When a finalized plan is presented to me by the Pentagon,” said Obama, “then I will share it with the American people.”
Obama wants us to believe that the military is to blame for failing to come up with a coherent solution. He’s twiddling his thumbs in the Oval Office while the Pentagon drags its heels on training the Iraqis.
There is probably some truth to that as well, though it inspired a harsh reaction from an anonymous military official interviewed by Fox News. “What the f— was that,” the official said. “We have given him lots of options, he just hasn’t acted on them.”
Blame #3 – Turkey
According to Obama, ISIS is able to replenish their forces because the Turkish government has failed to secure the border. “Not all of that is preventable,” said the president, “but a lot of it is preventable if we’ve got better cooperation, better coordination, better intelligence, if we are monitoring what’s happening at the Turkish-Syrian border more effectively.”
But even if that’s true, Obama comes off like he’s criticizing another administration. He knows what needs to be done, so the question on everyone’s mind should be: why isn’t it getting done?
Republicans didn’t waste any time responding. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul released a statement that said, “It is no surprise this administration does not have a ‘complete strategy’ for training Iraqis to fight ISIS. What is surprising is that the president admitted it.”
“What has President Obama been doing for the last 10 months?” asked the Republican National Committee.
Presidential hopeful Jeb Bush tweeted: “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.”
The Buck Stops…Where?
President Obama is in a tough spot, but it is a spot of his own making. Eager to avoid another Iraq war, he has handled ISIS as though he prefers to simply wait out the clock and pass the problem to his successor. Meanwhile, ISIS has taken over half of Syria and their control of Iraq is growing by the day. If they intended to stop there, the isolationists might have a point. Nearly 7,000 Americans died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the public is sick of the bloodshed.
But this group will not stop at the borders of Iraq and Syria. They have designs on a global caliphate, and they see this as the first stage in a plan that involves Europe, Israel, and the United States. That means we are destined for a collision. Instead of playing the blame game, President Obama needs to see this threat for what it is. We can’t afford to tread water for the next year and a half.
Mr. President, it’s time to demonstrate some real leadership. Dig deep, find your inner Truman, and do something to honor the office of the presidency at least once before you leave Washington. Thousands of lives hang in the balance.