How Badly Did Obama Underestimate The Islamist Threat?

Today Chuck Hagel, Obama’s Secretary of Defense, resigned. Hagel was never the best choice for the position, but in his defense, Hagel did disagree, publicly, with Obama’s characterization of the totalitarian Islamist group that calls itself ‘The Islamic State’.

Back in January 2014, Obama downplayed the scope and threat coming from the Islamic State, saying in a New Yorker piece, “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

Since then, the Islamic State has conquered and is now in control of large land areas in eastern Syria and north and western Iraq, captured billions of dollars worth of U.S.-supplied military equipment from the Iraqi army, and engaged in an Islamically-inspired orgy of mass murders, ritualistic beheadings, rape, slavery, pillage, and ethnic/religious cleansing.

After seeing how screwed up things became in Syria and Iraq, Obama tried to finesse his statement about the Islamic State, but all he succeeded in doing was make himself look even more petty and ridiculous.

Of course, the rise of the Islamic State was preventable. Against the advice of his military and diplomatic team to leave a residual force in Iraq, Obama, in order to have an applause line while campaigning for reelection in 2012, pulled out all U.S. troops from Iraq, thus creating the vacuum that the Islamic State filled.

Obama hired Hagel for much the same reasons he chose Joe Biden as his Vice President: he wanted someone without a lot of intellectual firepower who would not show him up and make him look better in comparison who would carry out his policy preferences as a compliant functionary.

For the most part, Hagel fit that bill, with the exception of him not agreeing with Obama’s characterization of the Islamic State.

Obama’s former Secretaries of Defense, Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, have leveled withering criticism of Obama’s feckless, kick-the-can-down-the-road approach to prosecuting the war against the Islamic State.

So under Obama’s bus goes Chuck Hagel, sacrificed on the altar of Obama’s narcissism and incompetence.

It will be interesting to see who Obama selects as his next Secretary of Defense. If Obama picks someone who is experienced, knowledgable, and has fire in their belly, the disastrous situation in regard to the Islamic State may show some improvement (or at least lesser degrees of failure), but they may not last long, because Obama doesn’t like people arguing with him or outshining him.

Since Obama is a good example of the adage that A’s pick A’s, B’s pick C’s, and so on, my guess is he’ll pick someone who will not rock the boat, follow orders, and keep a relatively low profile.

That will be good for Obama, but bad for the country.


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