Obama's phony war on ISIS

For eight months, from the beginning of World War II to the Nazi invasion of France in April 1940, neither Britain nor France launched any major combat operations against the Third Reich.  Both nations essentially waited to be attacked until the Germans were ready.  This led to claims that the Allies were involved in a “Phony War” – a war in name only.  No one was going to help the conquered Poles any time soon.  The bill for this Allied lassitude came soon enough, however, and France completely capitulated after only a month-long German campaign.

The U.S.-led coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq has more than a little bit of the Phony War about it.  President Obama, back last summer, promised a bombing campaign of “shock without awe.”  But what we’ve been doing is pinpricks.

Ramadi is a huge Iraqi city of inestimable strategic importance to the whole country.  Take Ramadi, and you get 70 miles of an open road to Baghdad.  This week, ISIS’s murderous hordes have virtually encircled the city, sending perhaps 150,000 terrified refugees fleeing for their lives into the desert.

Falih Essawi, the deputy head of the Anbar Provincial Council, personally involved in the city’s fighting like the rest of its population, told CNN this week that security was "collapsing rapidly in the city."  He begged the Iraqi government for reinforcements and the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS for “urgent” air support.  

This urgent support?  According to CENTCOM, between Monday and Wednesday of this week, the Coalition bombed only seven ISIS targets in the entire city.  In a Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey stoutly maintained that no coalition forward air controllers on the ground were spotting the strikes, nor had any ever been.

Dempsey was surprisingly equable about the prospect of the modern-day Genghis Khanate taking over a major urban area.  "I would much rather that Ramadi not fall, but it won't be the end of the campaign should it fall," he said.

To hear the Obama administration pitch it, it is more important for Iraqis to be politically correct than to actually defeat the mortal enemy of all mankind.  "I was up front in our meetings about how a lasting victory over ISIL requires inclusive governance in Baghdad and respect for local populations in all areas liberated from ISIL control," Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at the same time.  Still, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power waxed optimistic: “We’re chipping away.” 

Just like France and Britain in 1939.

Christopher Carson, formerly with the American Enterprise Institute, holds a master’s in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.

For eight months, from the beginning of World War II to the Nazi invasion of France in April 1940, neither Britain nor France launched any major combat operations against the Third Reich.  Both nations essentially waited to be attacked until the Germans were ready.  This led to claims that the Allies were involved in a “Phony War” – a war in name only.  No one was going to help the conquered Poles any time soon.  The bill for this Allied lassitude came soon enough, however, and France completely capitulated after only a month-long German campaign.

The U.S.-led coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq has more than a little bit of the Phony War about it.  President Obama, back last summer, promised a bombing campaign of “shock without awe.”  But what we’ve been doing is pinpricks.

Ramadi is a huge Iraqi city of inestimable strategic importance to the whole country.  Take Ramadi, and you get 70 miles of an open road to Baghdad.  This week, ISIS’s murderous hordes have virtually encircled the city, sending perhaps 150,000 terrified refugees fleeing for their lives into the desert.

Falih Essawi, the deputy head of the Anbar Provincial Council, personally involved in the city’s fighting like the rest of its population, told CNN this week that security was "collapsing rapidly in the city."  He begged the Iraqi government for reinforcements and the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS for “urgent” air support.  

This urgent support?  According to CENTCOM, between Monday and Wednesday of this week, the Coalition bombed only seven ISIS targets in the entire city.  In a Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey stoutly maintained that no coalition forward air controllers on the ground were spotting the strikes, nor had any ever been.

Dempsey was surprisingly equable about the prospect of the modern-day Genghis Khanate taking over a major urban area.  "I would much rather that Ramadi not fall, but it won't be the end of the campaign should it fall," he said.

To hear the Obama administration pitch it, it is more important for Iraqis to be politically correct than to actually defeat the mortal enemy of all mankind.  "I was up front in our meetings about how a lasting victory over ISIL requires inclusive governance in Baghdad and respect for local populations in all areas liberated from ISIL control," Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at the same time.  Still, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power waxed optimistic: “We’re chipping away.” 

Just like France and Britain in 1939.

Christopher Carson, formerly with the American Enterprise Institute, holds a master’s in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.