Obama admits still no 'complete strategy' for ISIS

A year after ISIS took control of Mosul and 18 months after dismissing it as “jayvee,” President Obama still does not have a “complete strategy,” and he is blaming it on the Iraqis and the Pentagon.  Speaking at a press conference in Austria at the G7 meetings:

President Obama said that the Pentagon hasn't presented him with a "finalized plan" on combating the Islamic State, specifically with the help of Iraqi forces.

"We don't yet have a complete strategy," Obama said, speaking at a press conference from the international G-7 summit in Kruen, Germany, "because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis as well about how recruitment takes place, how that training takes place. And so the details of that are not yet worked out."

This is nothing short of breathtaking – a commander-in-chief confessing that in the face of a brutal terror threat currently metastasizing not just in the Middle East, but within the American borders, he still hasn’t got a plan.  The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal column says, simply, “Wow.”

… last summer, Mr. Obama announced his anti-ISIS strategy in a September speech, promising to “degrade” and “destroy” the self-styled caliphate. 

Nine months later here we are: ISIS has overrun Ramadi, a gateway to Baghdad, the grand alliance that Mr. Obama promised barely exists, the Kurds in the north are fretting publicly about the lack of weapons to forestall a major ISIS assault, the U.S. bombing campaign is hesitant, and now Mr. Obama tells us the training of Iraqis is barely under way. 

“So part of my discussion with [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Haider al-] Abadi was how do we make sure that we get more recruits in. A big part of the answer there is our outreach to Sunni tribes,” Mr. Obama added. 

That sounds good, but one reason it’s hard to recruit Sunnis in Anbar province is because they are betting their lives if they side with the coalition. They saw Mr. Obama withdraw all American forces after 2011, and in the last year they’ve witnessed a fitful U.S. commitment that includes no American ground forces—not even bombing spotters near the front lines. The U.S. is having trouble recruiting allies for the fight because Mr. Obama gives every sign that he’s not all that committed himself.

The Sunni world is on fire, with ISIS plausibly claiming momentum as the future Caliphate, and President Obama is dithering and blaming others.  George W. Bush managed to train Iraqis and deploy them, but that is because he backed his words with actions (and U.S. troops).  It’s called leadership, and it required looking beyond opinion polls and doing what was necessary to meet the goal.

Is President Obama planning to have a “complete strategy” by the time he leaves office?  Republicans are asking the right questions:

"What has President Obama been doing for the last 10 months?" the Republican National Committee wrote Monday. House Speaker John Boehner took the attack another step, responding to Obama with a tweet of a popular emoticon of a person shrugging ("¯_(ツ)_/¯ ") as a shorter summary of Obama's strategy.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Arizona, hammered Obama on the Senate floor Monday, saying the lack of a strategy is alarming "while ISIS goes from house to house in Ramadi with lists of names and they execute people and they kill 3-year-old children, and they burn their bodies in the streets and the atrocities in Syria continue as Bashar Assad barrel bombs innocent men, women and children."

"One can wonder, one has to wonder, whether this President just wants to wait out the next year and a half and basically do nothing to stop this genocide, bloodletting, horrible things that are happening throughout the Middle East," McCain said.

Unfortunately, it is going to take dramatic video of Americans being beheaded before the public wakes up to the dereliction of duty on the part of the man charged with our defense.  And unfortunately, that is likely to happen in the foreseeable future.