It’s 3 am.
The President of the United States finally acquiesced to a press conference regarding the ISIS crisis. The bottom line?
President Barack Obama is working on strategies to fight Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and to continue to dissuade Russia from military involvement in Ukraine, he said Thursday from the White House.
Obama said he has directed Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to prepare a range of options to counter ISIL and has instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to travel to the region to build a coalition in opposition to the group. Though there have been reports suggesting that broader military action in the region is imminent, the president said he will take his time.
“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said from the White House press briefing room.
No sooner was the digital ink dry on that report than Josh Earnest sprang to the podium to explain that indeed Obama doesn’t have a plan.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended President Barack Obama’s remarks Thursday, saying the administration has a comprehensive strategy in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq, while acknowledging military options to deal with the terrorist group in Syria are “still being developed.”
“He was referring to military options for striking ISIL in Syria. Those options are still being developed by the Pentagon,” Earnest told Wolf Blitzer on CNN, when asked what “precisely” Obama was referring to when the president said, “we don’t have a strategy yet.”
But it was too late. The horse was out of the barn. Obama doesn’t have a plan.
President Barack Obama tried to get himself a bit more political space Thursday to make a decision about whether to expand the U.S military campaign against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, but in so doing he may have dealt himself a significant political blow by suggesting that his policy on the issue is adrift.
“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said as he took questions from reporters in the White House briefing room.
The president’s aim was clearly to defuse building expectations that U.S. military strikes in Syria were imminent as part of a broadening drive to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. But his awkward choice of words to describe a policymaking process still in midstream seems likely to haunt him for some time.
The inartful phrase quickly went viral among right-leaning media outlets and Republican figures, pushing the White House into damage control mode. White House aides immediately went online and on TV to argue that he was simply pointing out that he had yet to settle on new military options for a broader assault on ISIL that has already led to more than 100 airstrikes on the group’s positions in Iraq.
Rep, Mike Rogers, House Intelligence Committee Chairman, found Obama’s comments troubling.
“It was an odd press conference at the very best, but to have a press conference to say we don’t have a strategy was really shocking given the severity of the threat. That’s what’s so concerning to me,” Rogers (R-Mich.) told Wolf Blitzer on CNN.
But let’s be fair to Obama. He’s only known about ISIS since 2012.
In congressional testimony as far back as November, U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials made clear that the United States had been closely tracking the al Qaida spinoff since 2012, when it enlarged its operations from Iraq to civil war-torn Syria, seized an oil-rich province there and signed up thousands of foreign fighters who’d infiltrated Syria through NATO ally Turkey.
The testimony, which received little news media attention at the time, also showed that Obama administration officials were well aware of the group’s declared intention to turn its Syrian sanctuary into a springboard from which it would send men and materiel back into Iraq and unleash waves of suicide bombings there. And they knew that the Iraqi security forces couldn’t handle it…
It’s not like Iraq was asking Obama to strike ISIS since last year. Oh wait….
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs panel Wednesday blasted the Obama administration for failing to act quickly against a Sunni extremist group, saying it had ignored Iraqi calls for drone strikes since last summer.
During a hearing on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said the administration knew six months ago that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) had established armed camps, staging areas and training grounds in Iraq’s western desert and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was threatening to attack the U.S.
“However, what the Administration did not say was that the Iraqi government had been urgently requesting drone strikes against ISIS camps since August 2013,” Royce continued. “These repeated requests, unfortunately, were turned down,” he said. “I added my voice for drone strikes as ISIS convoys raced across the desert.” …
But ISIS is the jayvee, right?
“The analogy we use around here . . is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”
Surely ISIS couldn’t be a threat. Right?
“[ISIS] is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded,” he said.
“This is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything,” Hagel said.
It’s pretty damn clear now who the jayvee is.
And he has no plan. Not to worry. There is a plan out there. It’s on the 8th tee, next to Nicole Brown Simpson’s killer.
Rrrrring! Rrrrring! Rrrrring!