Conservatives love to call President Obama “weak,” a “pussy,” a “terrorist sympathizer,” etc., and this week’s GOP debate saw presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz criticize Obama in nearly every answer with buzzword persistence that would make Ivan Pavlov blush.
But what exactly makes President Obama weak? Republicans say that he is feckless against ISIS, but what exactly would they do differently than what the current Commander-in-Chief is already doing?
The reality is that the American-led coalition has orchestrated nearly 9,000 airstrikes against ISIS. Throughout the last year, on average, the coalition has flown 17 airstrikes every single day, dropping a mean of 60 bombs. Is this weak? And these statistics were figured a month ago. The bombing of ISIS has ramped up considerably since last month’s Paris attacks, and November was the most-bombed month yet for the wannabe caliphate.
In a speech to the Pentagon earlier this week, President Obama explained that the coalition has systematically been taking out ISIS’ top leaders, including the terror group’s second-in-command, its finance chief, a top online recruiter, a major weapons trafficker, a senior extortionist, and some of ISIS’ most brutal murderers. Will someone please notify the Republican presidential candidates?
Meanwhile, President Obama says that ISIS is geographically contained, and this is hard to deny. In Iraq the US is bombing ISIS, and the Iraqi Army has a ground game. In Syria bombs are being dropped on ISIS by America, Russia and the rest of the American-led coalition, and Russia has deployed ground troops. Syria’s embattled president Bashar al-Assad also has military forces fighting ISIS, and so do various Syrian resistance groups and Iranian-backed groups. Kurds are resisting ISIS in the north of both countries, and other Middle Eastern countries such as Jordan are resisting ISIS on the wannabe caliphate’s southern border. For all intents and purposes ISIS is geographically contained. The terror group may be able to orchestrate a rare terror attack in elsewhere, but the physical ISIS army is not going anywhere anytime soon.
“In fact, since this summer, ISIL has not had a single successful offensive operation on the ground in either Syria or Iraq,” President Obama said.
But to listen to the Republican presidential candidates, especially Chris Christie, is to be under the influence that ISIS is advancing toward the American homeland without any US military resistance at all. This fear mongering is as disingenuous as it is wrong because there is little militarily that a world leader can do about terrorism. The idealistic War on Terror is an impossibly abstract mission because terrorism is not an enemy force, or even an ideology. It is simply a political tool, nothing more, nothing less. This makes it impractical to wage an eternal ground battle against terrorists’ guerrilla warfare, which is just a tactic that hopelessly weaker forces use against far superior forces, as it is the only way they can fight an enemy technologically, numerically, and militarily superior in every way.
Considering all of this Obama is clearly not “feckless,” and, besides partisan rhetoric, the only anti-ISIS proposal with which Republican presidential candidates actually differ from the President is the idea to reoccupy the Middle East (I am omitting the proposal by some Republican candidates to bomb civilians indiscriminately because this idea is unworthy of consideration).
Neoconservative adventurism just spent a decade proving that Iraqi occupation does not work, and there is nothing more that ISIS wants than for America to put its troops back in harm’s way in the Middle East. Terrorists cannot hurt America very easily while we bomb them safely from the skies, but they will be able to easily kill Americans if we redeploy tens of thousands of soldiers to the Levant. Stationary bases, patrolling soldiers and military convoys are easy targets for guerrilla warfare tactics such as IEDs, and our troops would continue to die because Republicans want to posture toughness in this election.
In a show of non-posturing military strategy, the New York Times reported yesterday that President Obama explained his refusal to redeploy troops against ISIS with the POTUS acknowledging that a new occupation would cost $10 billion and 100 American soldiers every month, with another 500 soldiers wounded. Sorry, Chris Christie, strong and responsible foreign policy is knowing when an unnecessary ground war is not worth fighting.
In response to Obama’s military sobriety, Republicans criticize President Obama for leaving Iraq in the first place and destroying everything our military worked so hard for, but what exactly did we fight so hard for? Iraq is an unstable democracy teetering on the brink of failed-state status. We utterly botched the rebuilding of Iraq, which is what led to the anti-American terror militias that developed into ISIS. And besides all this, it was not even Obama’s decision to leave Iraq: Obama honored a deal George W. Bush made with Iraq. Obama did not unilaterally decide to withdrawal, Iraq unilaterally wanted us out. But Republican war mongering does not concern itself much with the opinions or thoughts of other nations.
So pass it on: no more Middle Eastern occupations! No more wasted American lives!