The 'No Strategy' Strategy

Erick Erickson
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Posted: Sep 12, 2014 12:01 AM
The 'No Strategy' Strategy

President Obama addressed the nation this past Wednesday night to outline his strategy for combating ISIS. Having declared the War on Terror over, he referred to "terror" in various forms 18 times in his speech.

The problem is that so many real-world facts directly contradict what President Obama said in his speech. A man who claims often to not know certain facts because he has not seen the news has clearly not been reading the paper. In his speech, the president said, "It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria's declared chemical weapons so that they can't pose a threat to the Syrian people or the world again." Notice the weasel word, "declared."

After his speech about Syria in September 2013, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry boldly declared Syria had given up all its chemical weapons. Now he is resorting to "declared" chemical weapons. Why the weasel word?

On Sept. 4, the New York Times reported that "the United States expressed concern ... that Syria's government might be harboring undeclared chemical weapons, hidden from the internationally led operation to purge them." On Sept. 9, the day before the president addressed the nation last week, the New York Times reported, "a toxic chemical, probably chlorine, was used as a weapon to attack Syrian villages in April, an international watchdog agency confirmed on Wednesday."

On Oct. 7, 2013, Secretary Kerry told reporters in Indonesia, "I think it's extremely significant that yesterday, Sunday, within a week of the (U.N.) resolution being passed, some chemical weapons were being destroyed." On Feb. 10, 2014, the BBC breathlessly reported "a third shipment of chemical weapons materials has left Syria, with some destroyed inside the country."

Conservatives who doubted Syria would give up its chemical weapons were pilloried in the press as being so partisan they could not even give Barack Obama credit for doing such a good deed. Now reality dawns.

This then gets to the problem with Barack Obama's strategy. A year ago, Congress rejected authorizing action in Syria largely because we did not know who these rebels were. Some of the rebels helped spawn the new terrorist threat ISIS.

At the beginning of this year, President Obama referred to ISIS as junior varsity. Later in the year he declared them amateurs. Less than three weeks ago the president said he had no strategy to combat ISIS. Less than two weeks, President Obama referred to the non-ISIS rebels in Syria as farmers incapable of leading the resistance against ISIS. This past Wednesday night, President Obama's bold new strategy is to arm the very rebels he says are incapable of leading resistance to ISIS.

But who are the rebels? They are people who have been in a civil war against the Syrian government. But from the rebels have also come loyal foot soldiers for ISIS. How does the president know the rebels will not use our weapons and funds to fight Syria instead of ISIS? Likewise, how does the president know some of the rebels will not take our weapons to ISIS?

More troubling, how does the president know these rebels will not turn on us? And is it not possible the Syrian government and ISIS may not now make an alliance of convenience to rapidly and jointly crush the rebels? The sad truth is Barack Obama knows the answers to none of those questions, but wants Congress to approve sending arms and training to the rebels anyway.

That brings us to one last story from the news. It appeared in the New York Times just one day before the president's address. "An explosion tore through a secret meeting of one of Syria's strongest and most enduring rebel groups on Tuesday, killing a dozen of its top leaders, including its head, and striking another blow against the forces seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad," reported Ben Hubbard for the Times.

A day before President Obama spoke, the very leadership of the rebels to whom he wants to outsource our fight with ISIS saw their leadership annihilated. The president has no strategy. It is, to quote President Obama, "just words."