Saturday, November 14, 2015

Obama, Cameron and Hollande Share Blame for Paris Attacks.

It started three years ago with Obama dismissing Isis as "the junior varsity" and rebuffing the recommendations of three Secretaries of Defense who all finally quit, a CIA Director and his then Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, to arm the moderate Syrian rebels against Isis when they were in their infancy. Others saw the threat coming. Obama didn't. 

Obama's decision making and judgement was made to look even worse and more foolish when Obama claimed the Friday morning of the Paris attacks  after a Kurd victory in Iraq  that "Isis has been contained". 

Michael Weiss an anti-terrorism expert and expert on Isis who has interviewed former Isis members was just as incredulous at Obama's statement of  "containment" especially after Isis had just carried out coordinated bombings in Beruit and had blown up a Russian passenger jet. 

It was unfortunately typical of a president who in 11 years of elective office before running for president, accomplished absolutely nothing other than to win his next election.That isn't hyperbole, that is a fact. In 11 years of elective office before running for president Barrack Obama did not introduce one piece of legislation did offer, sponsor or co-sponsor one bill and voted "present" more than 100 times so he didnt have to vote for or against anything. That character trait which has been apparent throughout his presidency is especially worrisome now in dealing with terrorism.

 Doing nothing has been Obama's personal road to political success, thinking any problem only needs is a speech or a comment. He' "condemns in the strongest possible terms". And he is always ready with "thoughts and prayers". And little else.

And nothing has changed as his lackluster comments after the Paris attack shows. But it has been disastrous for the United States especially Democratic voters because of his failures in domestic policy and disastrous for the world in his foreign policy, the results of which get worse every day.

If the world was looking for America to lead, for the last 14 years, from the inept and unqualified George W. Bush to the inept and weak and distinctly unaccomplished and aversion to act meaningfully Barrack Obama, America has been the wrong place to look.

The Paris  terrorist attacks carried out by Isis, the worst terrorist attack Europe has ever seen is an outgrowth of Obama's lack of resolve and that of Cameron and Hollande and their inability or failure to define the problem that Isis has really posed.  Along with their political fear and aversion to what is commonly referred to as putting boots on the ground by assembling the type of united allied coalition that won both WWII and the first Gulf War when what has been needed is committing whatever it takes militarily to destroy Isis completely.

Now finally, after the attacks in Paris, Hollande has called the Isis attacks what they should have been called a long time ago -- an act of war.

Isis has declared war on civilization and the response of civilization's leaders like many in congress and  those who make up the Tea Party Left in the United States like MoveOn, ThinkProgress and Daily Kos,  have answered the call  by recoiling at any suggestion of concerted military act to destroy Isis with , "  but that would be war."

It was MoveOn and other Tea Party Left groups who lobbied against Obama making good on his threat to punish Assad with a missile strike if Assad used chemical weapons against civilians by calling it "war" (as if any of them actually knew what war really was) and that the U.S. had to avoid "war" in the Middle East at all cost.

The cost was apparent in Paris. The cost was also apparent by the exodus of refugees from Syria to escape  Isis and Assad's barrel bombs which would have been significantly degraded by Obama's promised but never delivered missile strike.

What to do about Isis was clear from the beginning and it was simple. The only evaluation that had to be made was this: ask military and civilian intelligence a single question - if Isis is left to its own devices, if we did nothing (not Obama's ineffective half baked air strikes)  does Isis pose a real and serious threat to Americans here at home. If the answer is "no" then there should be no U.S. combat involvement. If the answer is "yes" then whatever ground troops and military force is necessary to destroy Isis where they are in Syria and Iraq is what was needed then, and what is needed now.

In spite of the usual knee jerk responses from those who react to every need for military force by yelling  "Viet Nam" and "Iraq" as if those mistakes and the weakness and lousy judgement of those who were responsible somehow justifies doing nothing in the face of a real global threat, if Isis had been recognized as the global threat it was, and effective military action was taken from the beginning, what happened in Paris could have been avoided.

There is no one, not a single military commander or intelligence expert, not one, who hasn't said  that destroying Isis is going to take ground forces and cannot be done without deploying ground forces.    Up till now, with Obama, Cameron and  Hollande refusing to commit ground forces to destroy Isis, the world has decided to let the Kurds and  moderate Syrian rebels do their fighting for them. It hasn't been enough.

Since the estimate is that in both Syria and Iraq there are about 30,000 Isis fighters, and we know where they are  conventional military wisdom and strategy and what was called the Powell Doctrine,  says that there should be a coalition, led by America of 100,000 combat troops, perhaps 25,000 each committed by the U.S., the UK, France and Russia,  and whatever air power is necessary to support them to do one thing -- destroy Isis and their ability to make war and carry out acts of terrorism as surely as the Allies destroyed the Nazis, Japan, and Saddam Hussein.

The immediate belief is the attacks in Paris were carried out by those who went to Syria,were trained, and then came back to France. It's something every country in Europe and the U. S. is concerned about though there have been far more in Europe than in the U.S.  And now there is talk of how better to defend against those coming back to commit acts of terror. But the best way to insure against French or British or American citizens traveling back to their home countries to commit acts of terrorism, is to make sure there isnt anyone left to come back. And that means taking the fight to Isis wherever they are in Iraq and Syria.

We keep hearing from political leaders whether its Obama or Kerry or Cameron or other world leaders that no matter what the danger or threat it represents, "there is no military solution" to the problem. It doesn't matter what the problem is, there is no military solution.

That same philosophy was used by Neville Chamberlin in the peace deal he made with Hitler which he called "peace in our time", right before Hitler invaded Poland.  It's the same thinking that went into supporting the nuclear deal with Iran which is already unraveling. That deal avoided the certainty of what MoveOn, ThinkProgress and Daily Kos said would be war, within days if the U. S. rejected Iranian demands on the nuclear deal.

Obama's statement on the attacks in Paris as usual carried all the weight and gravitas of a sack of feathers.  Obama calling the attacks " outrageous" and " heart breaking" is the usual Obama approach of stating the obvious with no solutions, no pledge of action, and doing what he has always done throughout his political career better than any politician whoever lived --  doing nothing and thinking empty words are enough.

"We stand prepared to provide whatever assistance the French need to respond." Then more from the politicians book of cliches  about "standing shoulder to shoulder with France." (except when world leaders met in Paris to literally stand shoulder to shoulder in a march of defiance and to show solidarity after the Charlie Hedbo murders,  Obama's shoulders were noticeably missing)  then Obama went on to say, " those who think they can terrorize the people of France are wrong".

What Obama added was telling when it comes to his approach to dealing with a difficult problem. Denial.  Obama called the Paris attacks, " an outrageous attempt (italics mine)  to terrorize innocent civilians".  It was, as everyone saw,  no attempt. It succeeded in killing and terrorizing innocent civilians. Had it been stopped or thwarted Obama could have called it an "attempt". But it was no attempt. It was carried out.

The only attempt was the attempt by Obama to deny reality and try to  minimize what actually happened by calling it an "attempt" so he doesn't have to actually act and do something. What happened in Paris was no attempt at terrorizing innocent civilians.  This was an act that did in fact murder 128 innocent civilians and wound  more than 300, many severely.

Naturally the gratuitous Wolf Blitzer who puts finding favor with everyone first and foremost,  characterized Obama's statement as " the president mincing no words" when all Obama did was mince words.

More Blitzer: " its, its,  its a definite situation there" reminding us again how painful it is to have the current crop of incompetent journalists, especially the news anchors at CNN, every one of whom was sent to Paris to do what CNN always does, milk a tragedy for all it's worth, bringing us the news in a major crisis. Like having to endure the question by Poppy Harlow to the friend of a girl who was shot in thr concert hall in the leg and arm:  "Does she feel lucky that she survived"?

Reaction to the attacks on TV news has been predictable,  with commentators, analysts and experts saying we have to "beef up security" and increase our intelligence. Security and intelligence are fine and neccessary but they are purely and solely defensive. What needs to be added is going on the offensive, and that means committing whatever military resources it takes to destroy Isis, something Obama didn't have the stomach to do when he promised to "contain them" then "degrade them",  then "defeat them" using  every "D"  word in the English language except  the word "destroy"until he was virtually forced into saying " okay, destroy".

Hillary Clinton's response was unfortunately no better.  She talked about "standing with France", which also comes out of the Politicians Book of Cliches, "in the struggle against Isis". First, if words matter, the use of the word "struggle" had to make Isis smile, since a "struggle" means you are not succeeding, you're on the defensive and are having a hard time. Certainly not winning and not sure what to do next.   Second, presidential candidates craft their words carefully and Clinton's use of the words "struggle against Isis" was meant to carefully avoid using the word "war", when war is what it is.

Clinton could not have been more wrong at the Democratic debate when she said the fight against Isis " was not our  fight". She sounded like the right wing isolationists before Pearl Harbor who said exactly the same thing about Hitler and the war in Europe.

The attacks have awakened Hollande who called the Paris attacks "an act of war" and its clear he is not going to wait around to see who agrees with him. He sounded like someone who is going to commit France militarily to destroying Isis. Whether the U.S. or the UK or Russia will join remains to be seen. For Obama its going to be first and foremost a political calculation designed to avoid criticism or opposition which is always the case with Obama.  But military commitment is the only way to destroy Isis.

The last time that point was made here some time ago  chastising Obama for calling Isis the "junior varsity" and not being more aggressive against Isis in Syria and Iraq militarily, a typically ignorant Tea Party Left "progressive"  left a comment that opposed U.S. involvement and  said "send your kid", which was perhaps an unintended insult to the American parents who actually have their  "kids" in Iraq carrying out air strikes against Isis, making it sound like what they were doing wasn't worth the time. Now with the attacks in Paris there are French parents and family members of 128 murdered victims who, unlike the commentor, wish they had a kid to send. 

Hollande sounds like this time he will. And whether Obama and Cameron and Putin for that matter, join the fight or whether they are simply willing to hold the coats of the French and "stand with them"  remains to be seen.  Saturday morning John Kerry offered "indignation and sadness" over the attacks, neither of which will accomplish a thing.

MoveOn's response to the massacre was both predictably and typically  pathetic and useless.  In their mass emailing they called for "A Vigil For Peace". Their email stated  " there is no 'right way' to react to the (Paris) attack (no?) but that a good place to start is with compassion". They didn't say "compassion" for who. Maybe they didn't know.  But yes, nothing like compassion to stop the Isis threat. It's what makes these Tea Party Left progressive groups as worthless and ignorant as their climate change denier counterparts on the Tea Party Right. 

Bernard-Henri Levy, the French author and philosopher said it best after the attacks: No boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq will mean more blood on the ground in Paris, London and New York. And he added,  that it is something Obama is going to have to understand.  

It's something French president Hollande seems to have already learned. 


Anonymous said...

tdraicer: Given the threat she faces from Sanders, Hillary can hardly come out explicitly for boots on the ground. But I have more faith in her than Sanders (or Obama) to do the right thing in office. (As for the GOP candidates, I wouldn't trust any of them with anything.)

Which is to say, on the whole I agree with you. I opposed our going into Iraq, and if we hadn't, IS probably wouldn't exist, but that is water under the bridge. It exists now, and we need to deal with that reality on its own terms, rather than re-fighting the arguments of 2002. Destroying Isis will require boots on the ground. It is unfortunate, but many things in the world are.

Anonymous said...


One other point; I really wish you would stop your use of the word "blame." Leaders get things wrong because of political cowardice, or mistaken worldview, or just because even the best get things wrong. They need to be held accountable. But the BLAME for the victims of terrorism lies with the terrorists and their supporters, and no one else.

Marc Rubin said...

"One other point; I really wish you would stop your use of the word "blame." Leaders get things wrong because of political cowardice, or mistaken worldview, or just because even the best get things wrong. They need to be held accountable. But the BLAME for the victims of terrorism lies with the terrorists and their supporters, and no one else"

I use the word "blame" for one significant reason: It was avoidable. I used it the same way I would blame a construction company for using shoddy materials in a bridge or building collapse. Obama has had since 2011 to do something about Isis. His judgement was incompetent when he had 3 Secretaries of Defense, a Secretary of State and a Director of the CIA all telling him Isis was a significant threat that needed to be destroyed in its infancy. That Obama called Isis the junior varsity both disparaged and mocked the advice he was getting. He wasnt just cowardly which he is, or gets it all wrong which he does, he was arrogant and wrong. And that deserves blame. Since it is up to the U.S. to lead and we didnt because he thought he knew better than anyone else. And you've seen whats happened since. Shifts in policy, commadoes dispatched, an attempt to cover up his culpability by trying to insinuate maybe the intelligence was wrong when those advising him to arm the moderate Syrian rebels to destroy Isis had the same intelligence he did. I think the word blame for Obama fits,and unfortunately it took Paris for the French to decide not to wait and take matters into their own hands.