Friday, December 4, 2015

Obama's Illusion

Yesterday, President Obama said that the United States is safe from attacks by ISIS.  (See

Today, we have news that the female San Bernardino shooter, Tashfeen Malik, pledged allegiance to ISIS.  (See

The President looks like a fool.  He's been snookered repeatedly by ISIS.  Apparently, until recently, he believed that the U.S. had contained ISIS in the Middle East.  He was then shaken by the Paris attacks, which he described as a "setback."  If he'd had a realistic view of ISIS, he wouldn't have seen those attacks as a setback.  They were simply part of ISIS's obvious strategy of cross-border expansion, and something that was likely to happen.  Before the Paris "setback," ISIS had already spread its tentacles into Asia and Africa.  Why would Europe and North America be immune from ISIS's metastasis?

President Obama is living an illusion.  ISIS is not contained and, as recent events graphically demonstrate, we aren't safe from its attacks.  Obama is now in the seventh year of his Presidency, and is understandably concerned with his legacy.  He seems to want to be able to claim that, while in the White House, he contained ISIS.  This apparent desire seems so strong it may have, in his mind, overwhelmed his capacity to accept the truth.  Human beings are notorious for not letting the facts interfere with their strongly held beliefs and the President seems all too human.

If Barack Obama wants a strong, positive legacy, he has to come to grips with reality.  He can't blame America's intelligence services.  He can't blame all the yes-people with whom he's surrounded himself.  He can't blame gun control laws--gun control (such as France's very strict regulations) won't stop a dedicated enemy like ISIS which couldn't give a rat's left ear about the law.  He has to blame himself.  He is the one who has failed.  His foreign policy legacy is in tatters.  He won't begin the process of recovery until he's hit bottom--and he's laying in the gutter now.  He has to face the fact that ISIS is much tougher than he is.  They've outwitted and outmaneuvered him.  They're winning. 

Obama may still have time to turn the tables.  Even though ISIS is a lot tougher than he is, he has much more power--military, diplomatic, technological, financial and moral.  If he comes to grips with reality, he might turn the tide.  This doesn't mean that hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops need to go back to the Middle East.  It doesn't mean that the NSA should be allowed to trample all over Americans' Constitutional rights.  It does mean that the President has to realize that this is war, and you don't win unless you commit to winning.  Wars aren't won by containing the enemy.  They are won by defeating the enemy, and perhaps in this case, destroying them.

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