HERE’s a strategy for dealing with ISIS: Let’s do them the way the Aggies did the Gamecocks

tan suit

And oh, yeah — what’s with the tan suit?

Yes, that headline is my way of admitting that I don’t have a strategy for dealing with ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State/QSIS. I don’t even know how to solve the confusion over what to call them.

But then, I’m not POTUS. And the man who is is taking a lot of flak for his honest admission yesterday that “We don’t have a strategy yet.” (Possibly the worst such gaffe since Toby Ziegler said C.J. Cregg could go to Ramallah to “swat at suicide bombers with her purse.”) Which he perhaps deserves, for having made some of the decisions that led to the metastatic growth of the former al Qaeda in Iraq that has turned into that new thing, a self-financing, blitzkrieging army of bloodthirsty terrorists.

But having left Iraq without any sort of residual force to act as a counterbalance to instability, and having ignored the advice of his entire national security team three years back when there was still a chance to prop up some moderate alternatives in Syria, I’m not entirely sure what the president should do, what we should do, now.

Which is why you might see me indulging myself in irrelevancies, with the rest of the ADD brigade, over such trivia as the president’s tan suit. Sorry about that. But truly, I’m at a loss for more helpful observations to offer.

And, oh, yeah — Russia is invading Ukraine with impunity. (At least the president is visiting Talinn to express support for a nervous NATO ally, for what that’s worth. I’m not sure how reassuring that will be. They’ll probably be on pins and needles hoping he doesn’t say the words, “red line.”)

Any ideas, folks? I’ll be glad to pass them up to the White House.

Seriously, I’m glad the president wants to get his ducks in a row and have a strategy, instead of the fits and starts of our actions thus far, which have had a “what are we actually trying to do?” feel about them. Although driving them from Mosul Dam was encouraging, as was rescuing the Yazidi. But we need something a little more thought-out, and effective, than a #bringbackourgirls type of reaction to outrages.

And I hope this administration is up to it. A lot of people — including, I saw this morning, Maureen Dowd and Eugene Robinson, not your usual Obama-hating suspects — seem to have their doubts these days.

26 thoughts on “HERE’s a strategy for dealing with ISIS: Let’s do them the way the Aggies did the Gamecocks

  1. Mike F.

    Maureen Dowd is certainly among the Obama-bashing usual suspects. She really, really suffers from The Green Lantern Effect.

      1. Mike F.

        No, she thinks Obama does:

        According to Brendan Nyhan, the Dartmouth political scientist who coined the term, the Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency is “the belief that the president can achieve any political or policy objective if only he tries hard enough or uses the right tactics.” In other words, the American president is functionally all-powerful, and whenever he can’t get something done, it’s because he’s not trying hard enough, or not trying smart enough.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Ha. Still here. Obama kind of reminds me of the Carolina defense last night. They were trying really hard, but they were still getting their butts beat on every play.

        It just so happens Obama’s best really sucks.

        Like our semi-retired President, I’ve decided to enjoy some time off, so I’m off all day today. Will probably some some ribs tomorrow and enjoy some college football with friends and family.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          In defense of the president, his BEST does not suck.

          His best was getting bin Laden. I was impressed by the decisions he made under the circumstances, being willing to send in the bully boys rather than bombing the house, not telling the Pakistanis, etc. There were a number of points at which he could have taken a safer course and did not. So he deserves credit for that.

  2. Sun Tzu, Jr.

    If you have no plan, tell your enemies you have no plan. They’ll think it’s cold-blooded and stuff.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    Any ideas, folks? I’ll be glad to pass them up to the White House.

    Pretty sure that this Pharaoh of the Fairway will probably just kind of ignore the problem. He doesn’t want to use any military force. Every fiber of his being resists using military force. When pushed, he’ll do a drone strike here, a raid over there, a pinprick bombing somewhere else.

    But he doesn’t dig down and get involved. He likes to lead from behind, which means he likes to play golf while the UN passes resolutions. This Churchill of the chip-shot isn’t a man who will project force. He doesn’t believe in it. He sees Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and just kind of figures that the arc of the universe will sort it all out.

    He loves to talk about people who are on “the wrong side of history”. What he fails to realize is that the point of being in power is to advance that time.

    He’s not a wartime consigliere.

    He’s Fredo.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Fredo? Ouch!

      As for “the wrong side of history” — I think a lot of liberals do believe there’s some sort of inevitable march toward progress that’s going to leave all the atavistic primitives behind. They believe that in terms of domestic issues as well as the world in general. I couldn’t disagree more. “Progress” — however one defines it — is not inevitable. Far from it. The causes and movements and ideas that advance are the ones that have someone pushing them hard, sometimes using force.

      As for “the arc of the universe will sort it all out…” Frequently, contemplating Obama’s passivism, I am reminded of Heinlein’s Glory Road. Ever read that? It’s silly, like a lot of his stuff, but fun as well. Anyway, one of the main characters is the “empress of many worlds,” and people from the various planets are always coming to her to seek her intervention in this or that issue or dispute. But her default position is to do nothing. According to Heinlein (in this theoretical universe, at least), that’s almost always the best policy, counterintuitive though it may seem to the action-oriented.

      That was one of my least-favorite parts of the book…

  4. Doug Ross

    Before you have a strategy, you must have an objective. Before you have an objective, you must have a goal. Before you have a goal, you must have guiding principles.

    I think we learned what Obama’s guiding principles were in 2008: Hope and Change. We’re now in the Hope stage of our foreign policy.

    Actually, I’m fine if the strategy is to do nothing. That beats Bush’s strategery by a longshot.

  5. Kathryn Braun Fenner

    The tan suit was appropriate for the season, but seemed kind of big and stiff on him, not to mention not a flattering color. Seriously not a flattering color.

      1. Kathryn Braun Fenner

        Clinton Kelly tweeted that he liked the suit, but agreed with me that it the color was not flattering

  6. bud

    But having left Iraq without any sort of residual force to act as a counterbalance to instability …

    You just have to love the war-mongers. They are always wrong. Always suggesting stuff that fails. Always spending treasure. Always getting Americans killed. Yet that doesn’t ever stop them from offering advise, providing criticism or otherwise uttering some nonsense about what a pragmatist is trying to accomplish.

    Let’s at least get the facts right. The primary reason the middle east is in such is a mess is because of all the meddling the west has engaged in for the past 100 year. Specifically we’ve promoted the most radical elements in that region to rise to power because they see us as invaders and can recruit based on the fact that we are in a place that we don’t belong. DUH. If there were foreigners on our soil wouldn’t people form militias to repel the invaders? After all we specifically sent a huge army into Iraq based on lies in order to overthrow a completely harmless regime. We ended up with a $1-3 trillion (depending on the source) bill. 100s of thousands of Iraqis died and of course the 4k Americans killed and 10s of K maimed for life. And what did all of this accomplish? Nothing but to help create the environment for ISIS to use as a recruiting tool. All a residual force would have done is get more Americans killed and $billions more squandered.

    It really is time to suck it up and get all our assets out of the region and let the people of the region sort things out on there own. Heck we can’t even identify a moderate faction to support anymore. ISIS and Assad are two of our biggest enemies and they are fighting each other for heavens sake. Why can’t we just let them beat each other up and stop whining about the President’s lack of strategy. Frankly doing nothing is a sound strategy and should be given a chance to work. If not then at least we won’t get more thousands of soldiers killed on a fools errand.

    1. Barry

      I don’t disagree. Let’s let France handle it.

      However, the President’s strategy isn’t to “do nothing.”

      It looks like that – and it’s obvious he’s floundering and doesn’t know what to do – and isn’t that interested (which could be worse than having an idea of what he wants to do but refusing).

  7. Barry

    and on Saturday morning television….

    Fox is ripping the President over ISIS and Russia.

    MSNBC is talking (again) about same sex marriage- this time in Indiana. (Same sex marriage is their main focus these days -the world is doing fine)

  8. Juan Caruso

    The perception of a weak CinC has invited aggressively opportunistic states (Russia, China, North Korea, Syria, Iran, etc.) and would-be caliphates (ISIS and al Qaeda ) to challenge us. Renouncing military primacy with naval draw downs, phony “red Lines” and “leading from behind” has encouraged our allies to make contingency plans with our foes rather than rely on U.S. backup.

    Compare the foregoing mess to the relative international calm during R. Reagan’s administration, which saw the end of the Cold War andthe fall of the Soviet Union.

    The military despised by liberals is being hollowed out deliberately and shamelessly put down in episode after episode (e.g. see any medals on the waiter’s coat?)

    What is going to protect progressives from Islamists? Words by this administration, courts, the U.N., or local police, the military? How can sedition be tolerated (hint this U.S. based Islamist leader is not alone in such pronouncements) as this:

    “If we are practising Muslims, we are above the law of the land.” – Mustafa Carrioll, Director CAIR, Texas USA.

    “You just have to love the war-mongers. They are always wrong. ” – Bud

    Who considers King Abdullah, Homeland Security and the FBI war-mongers?

    King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has warned that the West will be the next target of the jihadists sweeping through Syria and Iraq, unless there is “rapid” action.

    Last Week”
    The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security officials are asking law enforcement agencies on all levels to be on the lookout for activity from an international terrorist organization.
    In a recent Joint Intelligence Bulletin with the FBI, Homeland Security informed local, county and state law enforcement organizations to keep an eye out for local signs of ISIS activity.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Feigning weakness is a tactic. However, it only works if you are strong. Do you think that our President is going to drop the hammer on ISIS?

      Showing weakness when one is actually weak is a poor tactic.

  9. bud

    Maybe we should pull a Ronald Reagan and trade arms for hostages.

    This is typical of conservative rhetoric, all bluster and criticism and absolutely zero, zip, nada suggestions on what to do. Bryan is typical of this all talk no strategy nattering. Some examples:

    “Pretty sure that this Pharaoh of the Fairway will probably just kind of ignore the problem.”

    “Obama kind of reminds me of the Carolina defense last night. They were trying really hard, but they were still getting their butts beat on every play.”

    “He likes to lead from behind, which means he likes to play golf while the UN passes resolutions. ”

    Maybe it’s a bit unfair to pick on Bryan since all the other conservative posters here are equally inept at offering anything constructive. But he does come across as the worst offender. And I get it. It’s fun to poke ridicule at the president when he’s from the party you don’t support. But after a while it just comes across as middle school level debate tactics.

    To be clear I don’t support the president’s tactics either. He’s way too hawkish for my taste. But unlike the conservatives I try to offer constructive suggestions.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      I don’t feel picked on. Believe me, I can take some rough-and-tumble debate. It’s kind of what I do for a living. I stand beside all those quotes, by the way. In fact, I thought Pharaoh of the Fairway was pretty good.

      A couple others I (and my wife) thought of since then:

      1. Bradley of the Back Nine
      2. Patton of the Putting Green
      3. Darius of the Dogleg
      4. Alexander of the Approach Shot
      5. Leonidas of the Links

      My strategy is simple. Destroy ISIS utterly, without compassion or remorse. Kill them and break their things. Then come home.

      What arms would you trade for what hostages? What would you send them for who exactly?

  10. bud

    The “arms for hostages” comment was supposed to be a dig at an earlier failed conservative president’s strategy. Perhaps I was being too subtle.

    As for destroying ISIS it is a fools errand to even try with our own resources. We can support the moderate factions as best we can with humanitarian aid where feasible. Then let the many anti-ISIS factions have at it.

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