A recent CNN poll found that sixty-one percent of Americans opposed “boots on the ground” in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS). Count me as one of those in the sixty-one percent.
Yes, I am opposed to “boots on the ground” despite the fact that as recently as September 3 I wrote a column that stated in part:
“A great leader would thus do the following as the danger from the Islamic State rises:
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Embed Special Forces units with the Iraqi and Kurdish forces to assist in planning and executing combat missions. The Special Forces units should also be authorized to capture or kill the leadership of the Islamic State.
State categorically that the United States will treat members of the Islamic State forces as combatants subject to military law – an end to the simple-minded notion that terrorist should be dealt with as common criminals and afforded rights due to the very people they have sought to destroy.
Follow and destroy the forces of the Islamic State wherever they may go including into the nations that would give them shelter – no more sanctuaries.”
I oppose deployment of American troops not because it isn’t the right thing to do under a great leader, but rather because the current leader is simply not competent to fulfill the responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief.
Six years of leadership under President Barack Obama have failed to demonstrate a single instance in which he has demonstrated competency in foreign or military affairs. In fact, quite the opposite. He has failed in his “reset” with Russia and now watches befuddled from the sidelines while Russia has absorbed the Crimea and invaded eastern Ukraine. He has failed in North Korea and watched, again befuddled, as the rogue totalitarian regime has tested nuclear weapons and launch vehicles that put much of the Pacific in its demented ruler’s range. He has failed in Iran and suspended economic sanctions that were working in return for new hollow promises from Tehran that, like all of their predecessors, have failed to materialize due to delay and disingenuousness (an aspect that apparently everyone but Mr. Obama predicted). He failed in Iraq by withdrawing all troops despite warnings by his military advisors that Iraq would fail and Islamic radicals would rise – and they did. He failed in Libya choosing to reduce security in Benghazi in demonstration of his political rhetoric of having defeated al-Qaeda to the disastrous loss of our ambassador and three other Americans. He failed in the recent clash between Israel and Hamas so much so that Israel and Egypt froze Mr. Obama’s administration out of any discussion leading up to the cessation of hostilities. (They did so because Mr. Obama had repeatedly stabbed Israeli and Egyptian leaders in the back.) He is failing in Afghanistan as it marches toward a civil war as a result of a corrupt regime and fraudulent elections. His failings in Afghanistan are so great that neighboring Pakistan now faces a revolution involving the same forces of evil present in Afghanistan and where the United States has less influence and credibility than it does in Afghanistan.
As a commander-in-chief he has steadfastly refused to seek, listen to, or follow the advice of his military leaders. As with virtually every other field, Mr. Obama deems himself more knowledgeable and accomplished than his military leaders. And yet at every turn Mr. Obama has underestimated the threat of the opposition and underwhelmed the response – and he is doing it again in the fight against the Islamic State. Robert Gates in his recent book Duty declared that Vice-President Joe Biden had been wrong in virtually every instance involving foreign and military affairs. Quite frankly, the same assessment is equally applicable to Mr. Obama.
And now, a recent article in the September 18 edition of The Wall Street Journal describes recent meetings between Mr. Obama and his military advisors in which Mr. Obama has commanded operational decisions over each and every air strike against the Islamic State within Syria. This is reminiscent of President Lyndon Johnson during the Viet Nam War in which he stood hunched over the “war tables” and arbitrarily moved ships, minefields and air strikes around as if playing a game of “Battleship.”
Just as Mr. Johnson had no intention of winning the war in Viet Nam – he preferred to fight so as to not be perceived as losing the war – Mr. Obama has no intention of winning the war against the Islamic state, or quite frankly any other Islamic terrorist organization. Mr. Johnson’s conduct of the Viet Nam war – and echoed subsequently by President Richard Nixon – cost the lives of over 57,000 young men and women of my generation. Countless others were severely wounded physically and mentally and many have never recovered. And all for what – an ignominious retreat encapsulated in that famous photo of people clinging to that last helicopter leaving the roof of the embassy in Saigon.
Mr. Obama is a reluctant leader responding, not to the needs of those victimized by one of the most vicious and bestial terrorists groups in the twenty-first century, but rather to the polls which cast him as weak and feckless. Deployment of troops to demonstrate his ‘resoluteness’ rather than to win the fight constitutes the wasting of the lives of America’s service men and women. War is never “honorable” but is often necessary. If fought to win, it constitutes a justifiable moment. If fought for any other reason it constitutes the murder of our young men and women.
Mr. Obama is not competent to stand as commander-in-chief. In other societies that hold leaders more acutely accountable, a failed leader would resign. It is time for Mr. Obama to do so.
Please Mr. Obama, leave – and take Joe with you.