Via Ace, who notes that this is part of a broader “Morning Joe” narrative lately that imagines Obama as some sort of warrior-poet whose endless golfing and fundraising demonstrates imperturbable resolve in the face of terror. Same with the “we don’t have a strategy” line at yesterday’s press conference. Maybe that was just a Clausewitzian ploy contrived to get ISIS to lower its guard before O rolls out his devastating, multi-point plan to tighten the noose. It’s possible.
Also possible: This guy really doesn’t have a strategy.
His remarks came after days of heated debate inside the top levels of his own national security bureaucracy about how, where, and whether to strike ISIS in Syria. But those deliberations – which included a bleak intelligence assessment of America’s potential allies in Syria — failed to produce a consensus battle plan…
Those inside the administration advocating for going after ISIS in both Iraq and Syria were sorely disappointed – and lamented their boss’s lack of urgency in rooting out a threat that only days before was being described in near-apocalyptic terms…
To many outside the administration who have worked on Syria and the ISIS problem, Obama’s decision not to decide on a broader course of action will have negative implications for the war against ISIS. The administration raised expectations about altering its three-year policy of avoiding intervention in Syria, before Obama dashed those expectations Thursday.
Follow the last link and read all of Josh Rogin’s and Eli Lake’s piece to get a sense of just how sour the administration is these days about working with “moderates” in Syria. The intel community, the Pentagon, and the White House itself all seem to have concluded that the Free Syrian Army is not an option at this point; there are a few brigades here and there that get western support but nothing too robust lest those weapons end up being turned over to ISIS or some other jihadist group. Reading that makes Rand Paul’s op-ed yesterday slamming interventionism in Syria feel even more bizarre. The White House basically agrees with him: The risk that taking sides in Syria will backfire means we shouldn’t meddle much there. What exactly is Paul’s grievance with this policy again?
Exit question: Which chapter of “The Art of War” mentions dithering on whether or not to rescue a hostage who later ends up being murdered by the enemy?
Senior Pentagon official just confirmed to me that "hesitation" by President Obama delayed July 4th #Foley hostage rescue mission
— Toby Harnden (@tobyharnden) August 29, 2014