by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The administration seems not to be reacting to its own intelligence information about the Islamic State. Nor is it heeding the professional advice of the Joint Chiefs or top-ranking military officers in the field. Instead, in the run-up to the midterm elections, Obama appears to be guided largely by a stubborn adherence to his own past political truisms, and that explains the current inability to articulate a strategy or craft a coalition.
In anti-empirical fashion, the following axioms must be true — and thus the facts on the ground in Syria and Iraq must be massaged to reflect these beliefs.
1. The growth of the Islamic State has little if anything to do with the total withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011. Our departure did not prompt the Maliki government to backslide into religious oppression, free the skies for foreign powers, and open the countryside to resurgent Islamists.
2. The success of the Islamic State has nothing to do with the past failure to aid anti–Bashar Assad groups in Syria that once upon a time may have also opposed the Islamic State.
3. The current ascendancy of the Islamic State has nothing to do with a sense that the credibility of the United States in the region is diminished, or that enemies in the Middle East are emboldened by past non-enforcement of loudly announced red lines, step-over lines, or deadlines. Nor does it have to do with the situation on the ground after the bombing of Libya, or with the promise to vacate Afghanistan, or with the shunning of our old allies in the Gulf and Egypt. …
… If we keep all the above assumptions in mind, then what the Obama administration has said, and will say tomorrow, has a certain logic and consistency. And that is the problem, as potential allies sit tight, all too aware that should they join the cause of the administration they may well be left high and dry, or worse, when Obama turns his brief attention span elsewhere. Theirs is a dangerous assumption, but an understandable one as well.