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Friday, August 29, 2014

John Kerry, "To Defeat Terror, We Need the World’s Help": Indeed, "We Don't Have a Strategy Yet"

As reported earlier this week in a Time article entitled "Obama Says ‘We Don’t Have a Strategy Yet’ for Fighting ISIS" by Zeke Miller:

"President Barack Obama seemed to commit the worst of Washington gaffes Thursday when he updated the American people about the ongoing threat from Islamist militants wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.

'I don’t want to put the cart before the horse: we don’t have a strategy yet,' Obama said of the effort to combat the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) in its safe haven in Syria. 'I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.'"

Or is Obama, already desperate to finish his second term and go back to writing books about himself, reluctant to put the cart before the "hearse" and not the "horse"?  It's not every day that the president of the world's sole superpower acknowledges that he is clueless as to how to handle the world's premier terrorist organization.

Well, not exactly clueless. How about just plain stupid? In July, the Obama administration inked an agreement to sell $11 billion of arms (including 500 Javelin anti-tank missiles) to Qatar, and as observed in a recent Daily Beast article by Josh Rogin entitled "America's Allies Are Funding ISIS" (my emphasis in red):

"But in the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime."

It would take a fool to believe that the anti-tank missiles being sold by the US to Qatar will not ultimately find their way into the hands of ISIS, the al-Nusra Front and Hamas.

My suggestion: Following his "we don't have a strategy yet" remark, maybe it would be best for Obama to disappear on another Martha's Vineyard golfing holiday.

But wait! None other than US Secretary of State John (Assad is "my dear friend") Kerry has resurfaced, after his failed Gaza mission, to save the president's butt! In a guest New York Times op-ed entitled "To Defeat Terror, We Need the World’s Help," Kerry refers to the Islamic State "threat" or "threatened" five times (my emphasis again in red):

  • "In a polarized region and a complicated world, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria presents a unifying threat to a broad array of countries, including the United States."
  • "ISIS (which the United States government calls ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) poses a threat well beyond the region."
  • "Its leaders have repeatedly threatened the United States."
  • "Following the [Nato Summit meeting in Wales], Mr. Hagel and I plan to travel to the Middle East to develop more support for the coalition among the countries that are most directly threatened."
  • "During the General Assembly session, President Obama will lead a summit meeting of the Security Council to put forward a plan to deal with this collective threat."

Okay, I think we understand: ISIS poses a threat. But what is the United States planning to do about it? Simple! Kerry explains at the end of his opinion piece:

"ISIS’ abhorrent tactics are uniting and rallying neighbors with traditionally conflicting interests to support Iraq’s new government. And over time, this coalition can begin to address the underlying factors that fuel ISIS and other terrorist organizations with like-minded agendas.

Coalition building is hard work, but it is the best way to tackle a common enemy. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the first President George Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker III did not act alone or in haste. They methodically assembled a coalition of countries whose concerted action brought a quick victory.

Extremists are defeated only when responsible nations and their peoples unite to oppose them."

Great, let's wait until the US is able to put a coalition together, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which have been funding, either directly or indirectly, ISIS on the sly.

Kerry's support for this new "strategy"? President George Bush's victory over Saddam Hussein. Of course, Kerry avoids any mention whatsoever of what happened in Libya three years ago. In 2011, Obama organized a five-nation coalition to cripple Qaddafi's defenses using airstrikes, and we all know what resulted from that intervention: chaos. As President Obama recently acknowledged to Thomas Friedman:

"I think we [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you're going to do this."

The first invertebrate ever to occupy the Oval Office is now going to "come in full force" against ISIS? Get real! In fact, notwithstanding Kerry's attempt to paper over Obama's faux pas, there is still no US strategy vis-à-vis ISIS.

Go back to sleep, John.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent column.

    Israel did well by scaring Kerry away with her criticism. Had that not happened he'd be over there right now spinning up all sorts of mayhem. For example, all this talk now about a renewed "peace process" (ostensibly as a way to carpe the diem) has me worried -- but would undoubtedly be worse had Kerry not been shamed.

    Kerry & Obama will, in time, become known as the Laurel & Hardy of foreign policy.