In what was probably a moment of unusual crystal clarity, President Obama told reporters, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we are at than we currently are.” The President commented further stating, “There’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done.” President Obama did have some appropriate statements where he stated, he has asked America’s top defense officials to prepare “a range of options” about what the United States could do to go after ISIS in Syria, which he described as “a safe haven” for the Sunni extremist group. The President’s most salient statement came when he stated, “We need to make sure that we’ve got clear plans, that we’re developing them. At that point, I will consult with Congress and make sure that their voices are heard. But there’s no point in me asking for action on the part of Congress before I know exactly what it is that is going to be required for us to get the job done.” President Obama also made clear that these things take time and require a regional strategy. He also asserted, “We’re not going to do that alone. Clearly, ISIL has come to represent the very worst elements in the region that we have to deal with collectively, and that’s going to require us to stabilize Syria in some fashion. And stabilizing Syria means that we’ve to got get moderate Sunnis who are able to govern and offer … a real alternative.” Obviously those who have hounded and stressed that the President had stated that there is no plan and this meant he was clueless has been somewhat a whole lot of grandstanding.
Could President Obama have initially stated his position more diplomatically? Obviously there probably were some poorly chosen phrasings. Did much of the media make a mountain out a mole hill? Of course as it has appeared to become the main job of the mainstream media, to play gotcha and tear down anybody anyway they are able. The fact that he has instructed the Pentagon and other sources to research and present plans and to check out and find allies, especially other Sunni and Arab allies who are willing to assist and thus provide most likely a more deeply understanding plan and a way of addressing the situation which would provide a solution which would be workable beyond any initial military solution which is obviously going to be an integral and important component of any plan. It would have been a far more judicious for President Obama to have stated that he has requested the Pentagon and State Department to coordinate and present him with plans by the end of the week for his and his administration advisors to review and make additional requests and make further inquiries to assure that they all have a full understanding and can make intelligent decisions. He might have added that he desires to make intelligent decisions and not rush in where others fear to tread without a solid and workable plan which has sufficient support from our allies in the Middle East and around the world such that we can maximize those contributing to our success. Actually, it was somewhat unlike the President to feed the ravenous patrons of the media such red meat with his, “We don’t have a strategy yet,” comment. But, as they say, that which has been said cannot be unsaid, especially if any of the mainstream media heard your comment, and as the President was fielding questions there were plenty of media sharks just waiting to feed.
This second beheading murdering Jewish-American journalist Steve Sotloff should instill some urgency in the White House, Pentagon, State Department and any intelligence and other contributors in preparing any strategies for moving forward. There will be those who will state the obvious that much of this problem might have been avoided had there been some plan instituted early in the Syrian civil war when the majority of the rebels were presumably mostly secular while others claim that had a Iraq Status of Forces Agreement been reached and the negotiations for such had been initiated earlier so as to allow for separation of time between signing such a treaty from the immediacy of the elections which likely caused reluctance of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki fearing that such an agreement would have cost him the election. What those making these protestations refuse to recognize is that the radicalization of Islamist rebels has been growing ever since the Iranian revolution in 1979 which paved the way for a state actor which financed terrorism across the Middle East and even reaching into the far reaches of the globe including governing and entire city in the tri-state area in South America where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil borders meet. Iran has financed and provided aid and training for Hezballah in Lebanon, supported Bashir al-Assad’s reign of terror in Syria and Hamas in Gaza. Iran recently boasted to having provided Hamas with the technology and production know-how to produce the longer range rockets utilized by Hamas in the recent fifty days plus of rocket barrages which began weeks before the initial Israeli Defense Force (IDF) actions in Gaza and lasted throughout the conflict. As al-Assad with assists from Hezballah and Iran had raised the levels of carnage and destruction to unheard of levels it is almost poetic justice that something like ISIS should come from the dark heart of the Syrian civil war to not only oppose Iran but also threaten the Iranian control of the government and military in Iraq. Still, it is not good for the world that there is another terrorist group which has the violent brutality which rivals those backed by Iran even if they would be a balancing force against the Iranian terror forces. This has been proven with the recent beheadings, slaughters of Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, Shiite Muslims and even fellow Sunni Muslims as well as anyone else who does not match up with their world view and aims. In many ways this current horrific panorama playing out across the Middle East from Gaza and Lebanon across Syria and Iraq and anchored at the other end by Qatari financing and Iranian fanaticism and seemingly every permutation which has evolved into the savagery of ISIS balancing the brutality and insanity of Assad’s Syria and Hamas and Hezballah.
The reality of the threats which have grown and spread throughout the Middle East and Northern Africa, often abbreviated as MENA, have taken what was originally labelled the Arab Spring and turned into a worldwide disaster where terrorists and tribal armies are fighting for dominance and threatening the established norms from Mali to the tribal lands of Pakistan. ISIS is simply the latest horror to be produced by this misguided attempt to micromanage changes across this large area of the globe turned nightmare. The repairing and rifts and tears will take far longer than the explosive results we are reaping now of which ISIS may appear to be the most pressing, but that remains to be seen as there are likely more surprises waiting just around the next corner. There will be plenty more opportunities for President Obama and whoever wins the coming elections to take the White House to be quoted saying exactly the wrong phrase in response to media questions. What might we take away from this dustup? The first item would be to research exactly what our leaders have said and not rely on any sensationalism which simply takes the worst possible sound bite and edited out the rest of the President’s or other spokesperson’s comments because they did not serve their ulterior motivations. Politics is a dirty little business and it is not made any less so by the media seeking sensationalism from every interview and who cares about the facts and reality. Still, we had best hope that the world as well as President Obama came up with a reasonable and workable set of plans which address not only ISIS but the rest of the formidable and escalating situations spreading across the globe. Yes, sure, we can all run about screaming and pointing fingers as our world crashes down about our shoulders or we can pull together and try to find a reasoned and workable set of solutions which will actually address these problems before they explode even further. Time is getting short and these problems are not about to get any easier to find solutions so we had best find ways to support solutions and leave the games of the mainstream media outside of the realm of reasonable people seeking real solutions. Feeding the media frenzy will not produce a single solution and might only serve to exacerbate the problems beyond any ability to find a path leading to solutions before we pass this world on to our children and grandchildren, and they really do not need the residual disasters which we refused to find solutions for before it became too late.
Beyond the Cusp