Six years ago, President Obama declared a “reset” with Vladimir Putin, a policy now widely ridiculed for its folly. Four years ago, President Obama decided to ignore his defense secretary and withdraw from Iraq, paving the way for ISIL’s reign of terror in the Middle East. And three years ago, President Obama chose to do nothing after the Assad regime crossed his red line and used chemical weapons against its own people.
Today, each of these decisions have collided to create a complete and total disaster. Syria is a failed state, Vladimir Putin is bringing in troops, tanks, planes to prop up Bashar al-Assad, and hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are fleeing ISIL terrorists and a regime that gases its own people.
So where is the White House in all of this mess? Despite repeated calls from Speaker Boehner and Republicans, President Obama isn’t willing to stand up to Vladimir Putin, and he still doesn’t have the broad, overarching strategy needed to destroy ISIL and bring stability to the Middle East. But shockingly, the Obama administration would have the American people believe that everything is going just swimmingly:
RHETORIC: “There’s no denying that over the last year or so, we’ve made important progress…”
REALITY: “It has been a year since Obama conceded that the U.S. didn’t have a strategy to deal with the metastasizing crisis in Syria, as Islamic State claimed more territory there and in Iraq.” “Assad still clings to power. The world largely shrugged as he slaughtered Syrians in Syria, and as Islamic State rose as a new threat and stretched its bloody reach in the region. Now hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere are flooding into Europe, creating a broader humanitarian crisis.” (Chicago Tribune, 9/10/15)
RHETORIC: “The president has made quite clear that A, there is no military solution to the challenges that are plaguing Syria. And that B, our strategy encompasses a whole lot more than just military might.”
REALITY: “Syria today… is a geopolitical Chernobyl, spewing instability and extremism over the region and the rest of the world.” “Like a nuclear disaster, the fallout from the meltdown of Syria threatens to be with us for decades. And the longer it is permitted to continue, the more severe the damage will be. It is frequently said that there is no military solution to Syria or the other conflicts roiling the Middle East. This may be true, but it is also misleading for, in every case, if there is to be any hope of a political settlement, a certain military and security context is required and that context will not materialize on its own. We and our partners need to facilitate it. And over the past four years we have not done so.” (Testimony by former CIA Director David H. Petraeus, 9/22/15)
RHETORIC: “We’ve been quite clear about what exactly the strategy is to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.”
REALITY: “[T]he president has yet to commit to a real plan to ‘degrade and destroy’ the Islamic State, as he has repeatedly said is his goal.” “U.S. officials familiar with [retired General John] Allen’s decision [to step down as envoy to the global coalition against ISIL later this year] say he has been frustrated with White House micromanagement of the war and its failure to provide adequate resources to the fight. He unsuccessfully tried to convince the administration to allow U.S. tactical air control teams to deploy on the ground to help pick targets for air strikes in Iraq. Allen also tried several times to convince the White House to agree to Turkish demands for a civilian protection zone in Syria, to no avail.” (Bloomberg View, Josh Rogin Eli Lake, 9/22/15)
“Hope is not a strategy,” Speaker Boehner said this spring about the fight against ISIL. “The president’s plan isn’t working, [and] it’s time for him to come up with a real, overarching strategy to defeat the ongoing terrorist threat.”
It’s time President Obama started listening, and offering the real leadership America – and the world – desperately needs.