“But I Don’t Like War”

In 2009, Barack Obama, the newly elected President of the United States, won the Nobel Peace Prize, not on any concrete achievement towards peace, but purely on his soaring rhetoric.

Apparently the Nobel Committee, tired of the years of George W. Bush’s perceived cowboy-ism and bellicosity was impressed with Mr. Obama’s anti-war, inclusive rhetoric, including that of reaching out to the Muslim world.

In both the 2008 and 2012 presidential races, Obama campaigned on being the anti-Bush, pointing out that where Bush started wars, he would end them; where Bush deployed troops, he would pull them out.

On the 2012 reelection sawdust trail, Obama grandly proclaimed he ended the war in Iraq and pulled out all U.S. troops from there, in fulfillment of his campaign promise.

A favorite Obama slogan at the time was “Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive”. Obama triumphantly exclaimed Al Qaeda is “decimated” and “on the run.”

There was only one problem with Obama’s grandiose assertions that totalitarian Islamism was essentially defeated: It wasn’t true. Obama forgot or never learned a fundamental rule of war: The enemy gets a vote.

It was retired Marine Corps General James Mattis who said:

“No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it’s over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”

“The Enemy” with a vote is totalitarian Islamism; In particular, an off-shoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq who go by the name of The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS).

And ‘vote’ they did. When Obama pulled out U.S. troops from Iraq (against the advise of his Secretary of Defense and his military/national security team) to fulfill a campaign promise, he created a power vacuum where Islamists, already battle-hardened in the brutal civil war in Syria now moved east into Iraq, where they confronted a feckless Iraqi military who abandoned their positions and allowed ISIS to capture billions of dollars worth of U.S.-supplied arms and supplies.

Team Obama, caught with their pants down and seeing the disaster that was the direct result of not leaving a residual force of U.S. troops in Iraq, panicked. Reports from the White House of “intelligence failures” started to surface, But NBC News’ correspondent Richard Engle was having none of the Obama White House’s attempts at spin and stage managing:

As Engle points out, ISIS’ development was over a period of three years and he and other journalists regularly reported on it, and called Team Obama out on not having a strategy to deal with ISIS as being “quite ridiculous” which of course it is.

In a somewhat surreal turn of events, Obama laughably claimed it was not his decision to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq even though it was a central theme of his 2012 reelection campaign that he repeatedly invoked at campaign events:

Obama’s poll numbers cratered, especially in the area of foreign policy. Polls also indicated Americans were increasingly concerned about the threat that ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other totalitarian Islamists organizations posed to the U.S.

So on September 10, 2014, Obama delivered a speech from the White House, saying “Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”

So with that, President Obama, the anti-Bush, the man elected to end wars and bring troops home, was dragged kicking and screaming into the land of real-ville – a place where the enemy gets a vote – to became a war-time president for the remainder of his term.

Does Obama have it in him to be a war-time president? Would he be able to, FDR-like, communicate with the American people on the inevitable disappointments, set-backs, and outright failures that all wars bring and provide ‘Hope’ as he so effectively campaigned on in 2008 in the context of waging a righteous war?

If past performance is an indication of future results, I am not optimistic about Mr. Obama, but I’m thankful I don’t have to be.

I *am* hopeful, even in the dark realization that the U.S. and the western world is engaged in a continuation of what will probably be a long fight for freedom and liberty against totalitarian Islamism and other bad actors.

This clip from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ speaks to this kind a hope; a hope that confirms that even when bad things happen and we’re in a place we’d rather not be, there is a higher purpose that provides strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.

♦♦♦Update, Friday 5-15-15♦♦♦

This piece from Max Boot is a must-read. Some excerpts:

Ramadi was really where the Anbar Awakening began—the movement, started by Colonel Sean MacFarland in Ramadi in 2006, to mobilize Sunni tribes against AQI. After having lost hundreds of American soldiers in Ramadi and its environs since 2003, US efforts finally appeared to have paid off. AQI had been routed of the capital of its self-proclaimed caliphate, and would soon be routed out of the rest of the Sunni Triangle. Victory was in sight.

It is all the more heartbreaking, therefore, to read now that the Islamic State—AQI’s successor organization—has seized the government center in Ramadi. Islamic State extremists detonated a series of suicide car bombs on Thursday to punch their way through fortifications protecting the government headquarters. Reports were that, after the headquarters fell, black-clad fanatics were going to door-to-door, executing tribal fighters who opposed their onslaught. Government security forces and many civilians were fleeing in panic. As Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute points out, it’s as if the Marines, having taken Iwo Jima, had abandoned it and the Japanese had lowered the stars and stripes on Mount Suribachi (bold and italics added).

Today we are fast falling into an ever worse abyss—and it is one to which, by all indications, President Obama and his senior military commanders and civilian aides are utterly blind. Perhaps we should be talking about that rather than about what happened 12 years ago.

President Obama has been and is a train wreck, particularly in the area of foreign policy. Here’s law professor and radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt’s take on Obama:

Hugh Hewitt quote on Obama 5-13-15

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