In his desire to go down in American history as a “president who ends wars,” not one who starts them, Barack Obama obviously never bothered to read Sun Tzu’s “Art of War. If he had, he might have come across this bit of sage counsel:
If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles…. If you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
Instead, Obama finds himself confronting his latest troubling reality as a “wartime president”: ISIS has more than three times as many soldiers as the administration assumed.
A CIA assessment shared on CNN Thursday, a little more than a day after the president addressed the nation on his “strategy” for “degrading and ultimately destroying” ISIS, reveals that the terror group “can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria.”
Analysts and U.S. officials initially estimated there were as many as 10,000 fighters, including those who were freed from prisons by ISIS, and Sunni loyalists who have joined the fight as the group advanced across Iraq.
“This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity and additional intelligence,” the spokesman said.
The article notes that it is unclear how ISIS swelled its ranks, but the spokesman affirmed that more than 15,000 foreign fighters, including 2,000 Westerners, have gone to Syria. ISIS fighters now represent more than 80 countries worldwide. So much for coalitions!
The details about the increased number of fighters followed news that the United States has begun surveillance flights over Syria, which a U.S. official told CNN is part of an effort to gather intelligence that will help the decision whether to launch airstrikes against ISIS.
According to the president’s speech on Tuesday, that decision has already been made. Equally firm is the decision to resist sending in ground troops, come hell or high water.
- Annotated transcript of Obama’s ISIS speech (with snark and truth added)
- Finally, Obama draws a ‘red line’ that will not be crossed on his watch (Video)
- Q: How can you tell when Barack Obama is being honest? (Video)
- Who is responsible for ISIS? A better question is who is not responsible (Video)