The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Jumping into a Hole

Since mid-2012, we were told by the White House that the war on terror was over. Unfortunately, the Islamic terrorists didn't get the memo. In order to avoid confronting that simple reality, Barack Obama adopted a policy of delay, trying hard to postpone any meaningful decisions concerning the Middle East and hoping that things would resolve themselves.

Walter Russel Mead comments:
The President is like a man who refused to jump into what he saw as too deep and dangerous of a hole [Syria], and then watched for three years while the hole grew deeper before finally taking the plunge.
The policies of delay and abstention gave ISIS an opportunity that it seized with both hands. Thanks to the policy of delay, we now face a major and strategic setback in the war on radical jihadis. While ISIS’s territorial gains have shocked the world, land isn’t the real problem here. ISIS was never likely to establish a caliphate that would sweep the Middle East; it’s a virtual caliphate that was only able to flourish in the power vacuum created by the intersection of American abstention with imploding states in Syria and Iraq. Killing the ‘caliph’ and breaking up its forces are necessary tasks, but the forces of jihad will be significantly stronger after ISIS’s defeat than they were before it started. Thousands of new fighters have been trained; thousands of jihadi careers are launched.

Moreover, the sheer drama of ISIS’s sweeping victories in Syria and Iraq has given the jihadi cause a much needed shot in the arm. Victory, slave girls, beheadings: the feverish jihadi imagination and its depraved fantasies of orgiastic bloodletting in the name of righteousness have spread across the internet and corrupted the imaginations of alienated and vulnerable kids. Worse even than that, the core cadres of ISIS have developed qualitatively better and more sophisticated organizations. The new wave of terrorists may still have its share of ignorant looney toons, but this wave has more education, better technical skills, more Western passports, and better connections to funders than the wave that bin Laden inspired.

We needed to nip ISIS in the bud, not give it a chance to flower and spread spores across the Middle East. But the President chose to wait, steeling himself to inaction in the face of his chief military and civilian advisers. Now we’ll have the worst of both worlds. We’ll have all the risks and horrors of a war against ISIS, and we’ll have all the risks and horrors of playing Whac-A-Mole with the next iteration of better trained and better organized jihadi nutjobs.
Through inaction, Obama's foreign policy has inadvertently enabled ISIS to expand its reign of terror. And now, this president acts anguished as he crafts a jury-rigged strategy to stop the terror that his acts of indecision and delay helped to unleash.