Strategy against ISIS: If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention

Strategy against ISIS: If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention

State Department spokesmodel Jen Psaki said Wednesday that “the President has a comprehensive strategy.”  Poor Jen: she’s a good soldier and perhaps a true believer, but she’s clearly not on the inside. For a good soldier, out in public, doing her best to present the President in a positive light, it’s just not fair – and we are, as you know, Jen, all about fairness.  Jen, take my advice and have another drink.

Psaki said there is a comprehensive strategy; the President, the next day, says there is no strategy.  Perhaps there is a strategy to develop a strategy.  Perhaps we could get a Real Clear Politics graph on how many times the administration agrees with itself.   It could be a very low number.   The spin, meanwhile: “still considering options”, “out of context”; the implication:  that the President is still waiting on the Pentagon.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey seems to have gone from hawk to henpecked.  Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel goes from “we’ve never seen anything like this… get ready for everything” to “disappeared.”  Hagel’s next public appearance will probably look like a hostage tape.  It is.

The President is intent on building coalitions.  Regional solutions.  “Others” joining in the effort, more reform required of the Iraqi government.  It’s not a strategy; it’s not even tactics; it’s a mantra.  The President sets out to build a coalition with folks who, quite publicly, neither trust nor respect him.

Saudi Arabia’s M.O is to make significant public statements only after private assurances that the public statements are for domestic and regional consumption, and that they “don’t really mean it.”  “We’ll say we hate you, but we really love you, okay?”

But not with this President.  The Saudis, the most circumspect of players, took the President to the wood shed in public over Syria.

Israel’s crisis of confidence in the President is dramatic.  Neither side has much good to say (and that’s quite a trick).  Ticking off everyone is not as easy as it may seem.  Who could have seen Israel and Saudi Arabia making common cause?  It’s the Riyadh Combo: Iran moving toward nuclear weapons, the U.S. unable to find its own hind side with two hands and a flash light, and a President, seemingly, having difficulty making a decision.

All while ISIS is the realization of a threat that the House of Saud has attempted to communicate to Wahhabi religious leaders.  The beast will, eventually find its way to us.

It’s a surreal world of hypnosis, with Valerie Jarrett in a starring role as the Mad Monk.  This is amateur hour: she is, in fact, a complete amateur with no background in any of these critical issues.  I don’t have a link for you: its serial absorption over time; it’s dozens of symptoms, obscure quotes, reporting absent the revelation of sources; it’s points of consistency and inconsistency.  Consider it all together: if plausibility is the rational standard, in most cases you just can’t go there; the test is not met.  There’s no “there, there.”

Irrationality on one side creates a Newtonian reaction on the other.  Making the same mistakes over and over again is irrational.  At the very least, have the President say, “If we identify a target of opportunity that makes a significant difference in ISIL’s ability to operate or our ability to deliver humanitarian aid, we will take that opportunity.”  Is that so hard?  Is that too hawkish?

But what did we say to ISIL?  They now have the “Obama Consideration Period,” in which to adopt positions that anticipate the predictable tactics, and exploit the current reluctance, of the Americans.  “Thanks, Brother Barack, we’re glad to hear that you’re still thinking of this in terms of politics.  Love ISIS.”  “We’ll be phasing up the genocide and hiding the tanks.”

There is no Presidential illumination of the strategic threat.  That threat will unfold on a variety of levels, perhaps even beyond who has passports and where borders are.   Stratfor argues that ISIS is not a direct threat to the American homeland.  They might be right in a limited sense but there is competition in the Jihadi world.

Al Qaeda is in competition with ISIL/ISIS/IS, to take just one case.  What can al Qaeda do?  Al Qaeda can attack the West.  The plan may not be fully evolved, but maybe sooner than they wanted, and in part to take the headlines away from ISIS, they have to attack the West.  Attacking the West brings automatic credibility, fame, and resources.  That creates a strategic threat, considering our porous border, the support mechanisms that exist in the Tri-Border area, the Mexican Cartels, and the availability of weapons in the dark.

I frequently turn to Winston Churchill in times of trouble, for the reminders of historic accomplishments after a decade in the political wilderness, suffering for the sin of being right.  “The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close,” he said.  “In its place we are entering a period of consequences.”   More from Winston: “The truth is incontrovertible.  Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end there it is.”

What will we stand up for?  We have over the course of multiple presidencies ignored religious persecution, localized terror, and genocide.  We have negotiated with terrorist states and sold at least a portion of our soul to those who deny the validity of that soul.  The options we have to mitigate the threats are not politically correct, according to our governing ideology.  At the level of common denominators, it gets scary.  It’s scary that the crazy conspiracy theorists of years gone by don’t seem quite so crazy anymore.

Knowledge is power, but it is also a source of fear: fear of fecklessness, fear that the lessons of history are lost, fear that your children will pay the price, fear that knowledge is less significant than the ideology of the moment.

Winston also said, “Americans always do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else.”   I fear Winston would be disappointed in us.  He would illuminate an undeniable vision, call us to courage, show us the greater whole for what it could be and to call us to our contributions.

D.E. Landreaux

D.E. Landreaux

D.E. Landreaux began writing political commentary to realize an irresistable urge to have a voice in the political process beyond the voting booth. He also blogs at


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