Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What A Difference A Few Months Can Make

On January 7, 2014, President Obama was interviewed by New Yorker magazine editor David Remnick. Among other topics was the subject of Islamic terrorism and ISIS.

"In the 2012 campaign, Obama spoke not only of killing Osama bin Laden; he also said that Al Qaeda had been ‘decimated,’ Remnick wrote. "I pointed out that the flag of Al Qaeda is now flying in Fallujah, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria; Al Qaeda has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too."

President Obama responded: "The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers' uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian."

As the year progressed and we saw ISIS grow and conquer, gaining in size, strength, armaments, and territory. By September they had taken large areas of Iraq and Syria, had robbed billions of dollars from Iraqi banks, and had taken control of U.S. supplied vehicles and weapons. Suddenly they weren't JV anymore.

On September 7, 2014, Meet The Press host Chuck Todd sat down with President Obama in an exclusive interview and actually asked some real questions.

They talked about a strategy for dealing with ISIS and Obama remarked "...we're going to defeat them."

Todd mentioned that defeating them was "long way from when you described them as a JV team."

"Was that bad intelligence or your misjudgment?"
 he asked the President.

That's when the spin began. 

"Keep in mind I wasn’t specifically referring to (Islamic State)," Obama replied. "I've said that, regionally, there were a whole series of organizations that were focused primarily locally, weren’t focused on homeland, because I think a lot of us, when we think about terrorism, the model is Osama bin Laden and 9/11."

His denial of what he said was rather like several years of "If you like your doctor, if you like your health care plan, you can keep them." Then, in November of 2013, when millions of people were losing their current health care plans and their doctors because of the Affordable Care Act, the President changed his words to "What we said was you can keep (your plan) if it hasn’t changed since the law passed. Now, if you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed."

Also in September of 2014, President Obama spoke about his strategy (or non-strategy) of not fighting ISIS with boots on the ground. He specifically used Yemen as an example of what works and what doesn't.

"This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years," Obama said on September 10. "It is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America's core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order."

On Tuesday, the Presidential palace in Sanaa, Yemen, was overthrown by rebels. The Yemeni government had been partnered with the United States in the fight against Al Qaeda offshoots within Yemen. Now that the government has been removed the likelihood of these terrorist groups taking control has exponentially increased. So much for Obama's strategy. It is working so well that our embassy in Yemen is currently being evacuated to avoid another Benghazi.

Back in September, when pressed by reporters about whether or not Yemen could be deemed a success, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Yemen is "a place where the American counter terrorism strategy that has been put in place by President Obama has succeeded in degrading the threat that those organizations pose to the United States. "We intend to implement an analogous strategy against ISIL."

Oops. President Obama was briefed on the occurrences in Yemen. A White House spokesman said "We strongly condemn the violence and those stoking it in an effort to disrupt Yemen's political transition. We will continue to support efforts to bring about a peaceful solution."

Yeah, I bet you do. Maybe you should tell the ousted Yemeni government "If you like our strategy you can keep our strategy...."

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