WaPo editors: Say, this ISIS intervention looks a wee bit “underpowered,” no?

posted at 8:41 am on September 16, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

It depends on which version of the military intervention at which we look. If we review the plan of attack on ISIS in Iraq, then yes, we don’t appear to be doing much to actually roll back the terrorist army from its positions. If, on the other hand, we look at it as an opportunity to degrade the air defenses of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it looks much more robust. Major Garrett reported last night from the White House that the US will take out air defense positions that interfere with American bombing runs against ISIS in Syria:

CBS News reminds us that Congress will get its first look at the war/not-war plans of the White House. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel will present testimony in hearings this week intended to give Capitol Hill some confidence in what Barack Obama has planned to respond in this crisis:

The leaders in both chambers have been largely supportive of what the president wants, although there’s dissension within the ranks among both Democrats and Republicans. And with the clock ticking to yet another congressional break next week, there’s little time for the administration to rally more support for the authorization Mr. Obama is seeking, as well as his overall strategy.

That task will fall to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, who head to Capitol Hill this week to answer lawmakers’ questions for three days of grilling before four different congressional committees.

“[Kerry] needs to tell us what the goals are, what the plans are, why this can work with no boots on the ground,” Rep. Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told CBS News.

“I think there’s just a general skepticism as to why this would work, as to why this is different, as to why this wouldn’t just be mission creep where we would wind up with boots on the ground. There are all good reasons to give to that.”

Though Engel, whose committee hears from Kerry on Thursday, expressed confidence that there are good answers to the questions Kerry will face, skepticism is a broad theme among members of Congress these days when it comes to the president’s strategy.

The skepticism in Washington is not limited to Pennsylvania Avenue. The editors of the Washington Post sounded a vote of no confidence in the “underpowered” strategy to fight ISIS. Of particular concern is the weak and reluctant coalition, especially from a President who repeatedly derided his predecessor for acting unilaterally:

IN LAUNCHING two previous wars in Iraq, the United States assembled formidable coalitions of dozens of countries. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Oman were among the Arab states that deployed substantial ground forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Though derided by some as a “unilateral” U.S. action, the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq was supported by troops from 39 countries, nine of which deployed more than 1,000 soldiers.

By those standards, the results thus far of the Obama administration’s efforts to marshal an alliance to fight the self-described Islamic State look meager. In Paris on Monday, two dozen governments pledged to help fight the extremists “by any means necessary, including military assistance.” But only a handful — not yet including Britain — have so far agreed to participate in air combat missions in Iraq, and none has yet signed on to support prospective U.S. air strikes in Syria. Nor is any sending combat troops.

Whose fault is that? The editorial points to the top:

In large part, however, the restraint has been fostered by President Obama himself. As The Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported, Mr. Obama rejected the recommendation of his top military commanders that U.S. Special Operations forces be deployed to assist Iraqi army units in fighting the rebels, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the administration has turned aside troop offers by other nations. …

But in the end the Islamic State will have to be defeated on the battlefield. In that respect, the alliance the administration is constructing looks underpowered.

Congress apparently thinks so, too. They will accede to Obama’s request for funds to train and deploy so-called Syrian moderates, but only for a short-term period, and want to wait on approval of military force until after the elections. That hints at a larger debate over Obama’s strategy that will be freed of short-term electoral considerations:

“People are trying to be careful about making a large commitment before we have all the facts, but eventually we need to have a new authorization that’s simple and sweeping and empowers the president to use all means necessary to destroy ISIL,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State. “Hopefully that can happen in the lame-duck session.”

Even that level of approval might be at risk if Hagel and Kerry can’t convince Capitol Hill that they have anything better in mind than just a few bombing runs and a roll of the dice on supposed moderates that the US has had trouble identifying for the past two years. This looks more like a strategy to make ISIS “manageable,” as Obama’s first instincts displayed last month, rather than confront and defeat it. Underpowered is a pretty good description of not just the strategy, but also the strategists.


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Comments

Time for another one of BOs comprehensive plans made up on the spot as a throw away sound bite.

Closet Optimist on September 16, 2014 at 8:51 AM

Major Garrett reported last night from the White House that the US will take out air defense positions that interfere with American bombing runs against ISIS in Syria

So attacking ISIS is simply a cover story.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the administration has turned aside troop offers by other nations

Does Dear Liar actually want ISIS to succeed? This is getting very scary.

rbj on September 16, 2014 at 8:52 AM

So…is #underpower #smartpower?

Star Bird on September 16, 2014 at 8:54 AM

I wish the rest of the lsm would acknowledge that W did not go it alone but I’m not holding my breath

cmsinaz on September 16, 2014 at 8:55 AM

You know what this whole dust-up with ISO is doing?

See any stories this week about Congress working on the budget?

Any reaction to the fact that State Department was getting rid of documents about Benghazi ahead of the ARB?

The looming Obamacare crisis (thousands dumped in VA alone)?

Bottom line, the media is deliberately not covering stories that are harmful to the Dems chances in 49 days in order to focus on the problems of the NFL, ISO, and a virus.

Happy Nomad on September 16, 2014 at 8:58 AM

It depends on which version of the military intervention at which we look.

Version 1 – Victory: No way do we have enough force.

Version 2 – Appearance of Doing Something: More than enough force.

dreadnought62 on September 16, 2014 at 9:02 AM

As usual The Washington (com)Post is busy defending and providing cover for their man Obama.

rplat on September 16, 2014 at 9:07 AM

The Post is getting closer to calling this what it is — A cosmetic, kick-the-can-down-the-road strategy by Obama, who knows he’d have to defy a large part of his own far-left coalition to do anything effective against ISIS and can’t stand the idea of admitting George W. Bush got anything right on Iraq (or in his former manic supporters claiming he’s no better than Bush).

Obama will simply try to run out the clock over the next 2 1/2 years, hope nothing serious happens between now and then that forces him to make a real decision, and if he wins his bet, run around giving million-dollar speeches from 2017 onward on how he did such a great job in the Middle East but his successor(s) are farking everything up now.

jon1979 on September 16, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Why does the President not do what he did with Obamacare?

“Well, under my plan, if you like your government, you can keep your government…
…the beheading curve will be driven down…
…Congress, I’m looking at you…
…peace in our time.”

A good speech and a compliant government-friendly media means you don’t really have to bomb your buddies.

ROCnPhilly on September 16, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Why can’t Obama just toss spears at ISIS from the side of a Chinook? That’s how he personally killed OBL.

abobo on September 16, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Major Garrett reported last night from the White House that the US will take out air defense positions that interfere with American bombing runs against ISIS in Syria:

And what is the point of alerting Syria?

Basilsbest on September 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

The Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported, Mr. Obama rejected the recommendation of his top military commanders that U.S. Special Operations forces be deployed to assist Iraqi army units in fighting the rebels

,

The left just can’t get around to calling ISO members what they are radical Islamic terrorists. By the standards of this administration those three beheadings were carried out by “folks” best described as rebels.

Happy Nomad on September 16, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Does Dear Liar actually want ISIS to succeed? This is getting very scary.

rbj on September 16, 2014 at 8:52 AM

I wonder. There are other signs that point to his flacid interest in defeating ISIS. Erdogan of Turkey will not help in the fight – he is suspected of routing for ISIS – and remember 0Bama confessed once that Erdogan was his best friend among all foreign leaders …

djl130 on September 16, 2014 at 9:12 AM

And what is the point of alerting Syria?

Basilsbest on September 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

More importantly, what happens when Assad or ISO shoots down one of these “boots in the air” missions? What happens if the pilot is taken prisoner? What happens when Jhihad Joe beheads said POW in an internet video?

As lazy, stupid, and cowardly as Obama is; I don’t think he has thought this whole thing through beyond the political calculations.

Happy Nomad on September 16, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Did we finally get a SOFA with the Iraqis since this was the reason given by our dear leader for pulling all the troops out? We’ve now sent troops back in as advisors and guards for the embassy, so are they protected from being called criminals by every human rights group on the face of the planet? Sean was right, why would anyone want to serve in this cinc’s army.

Kissmygrits on September 16, 2014 at 9:15 AM

Why can’t Obama just toss spears at ISIS from the side of a Chinook? That’s how he personally killed OBL.

abobo on September 16, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Or at least attack Assad-style by rolling out 55 gallon drums of chlorine gas.

Happy Nomad on September 16, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Obama will do absolutely nothing effective against ISIS.

Better just resign ourselves to:

1. A nuclear armed Iran
2. A growing and strengthening Islamic State
3. Regularly occurring acts of terror within the United States

justltl on September 16, 2014 at 9:17 AM

And what is the point of alerting Syria?

Basilsbest on September 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

More importantly, what happens when Assad or ISO shoots down one of these “boots in the air” missions? What happens if the pilot is taken prisoner? What happens when Jhihad Joe beheads said POW in an internet video?

As lazy, stupid, and cowardly as Obama is; I don’t think he has thought this whole thing through beyond the political calculations.

Happy Nomad on September 16, 2014 at 9:14 AM

That was my point. Dempsey should resign to protest the gross incompetence of this so-called president.

Basilsbest on September 16, 2014 at 9:19 AM

And what is the point of alerting Syria?

Basilsbest on September 16, 2014 at 9:10 AM

He wasn’t alerting Syria so much as alerting us that he’s going to be bombing government-held positions in Syria. That way, his original objective of ousting Assad can be pursued without objection under the guise of fighting ISIS.

ROCnPhilly on September 16, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Why can’t Obama just toss spears at ISIS from the side of a Chinook? That’s how he personally killed OBL.

abobo on September 16, 2014 at 9:09 AM

I thought he killed bin Laden with his pen and phone….

RandallinHerndon on September 16, 2014 at 9:19 AM

I wonder. There are other signs that point to his flacid interest in defeating ISIS. Erdogan of Turkey will not help in the fight – he is suspected of routing for ISIS – and remember 0Bama confessed once that Erdogan was his best friend among all foreign leaders …

djl130 on September 16, 2014 at 9:12 AM

On the other hand, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is alarmed by ISIS, and a new caliphate would necessarily threaten both SA and Turkey. But a caliphate is indigenous to the Middle East whereas Iraq & Syria (et al.) are Western colonial constructs. I can’t get a read on where Dear Liar is on this. I suspect he doesn’t know where his sympathies lie.

rbj on September 16, 2014 at 9:23 AM

We elect someone named Barak Hussein Obama, and 5 years later the Islamists are on the rise almost everywhere. Who saw this coming?

claudius on September 16, 2014 at 9:24 AM

As usual the Narcissist in Chief is thinking more about PR than practicality. He’s also trying to “triangulate” between his Eastern Mystic infatuation, his dream of a MidEast without Israel, and his desire not to lose control of the Senate in seven weeks.

He doesn’t want to hit _SIS, because he now sees it as the last, best hope for the erasure of Israel. (Every other Islamic “state” has failed him in this, and he’s very disappointed in them.) As such, he wants to preserve _SIS, not even “degrade” it, let alone “destroy” it.

He can’t make up his mind about Assad. And he is now pissed that everyone else knows that the anti-Assad coalition is mainly composed of radicals who hate the West even worse than Assad does. (But not worse than The One. Nobody hates us worse than he does.)

The one thing he’s sure of is that all those dumb, unenlightened Muricans still get to vote. And that if he doesn’t do something to pull the wool over their eyes, he’ll be stuck with a completely hostile Congress he’ll have to ignore for the last two years of his reign, instead of having half of it protecting him from the other half. He’d rather just suspend the election, but he can’t this time around. (He now thinks he should have started building the excuse sooner- like while he was campaigning the first time.)

He now has to deal with the fact that he has no idea what to do, because he was sure he’d never need to think about it. The world was going to be perfect on his terms, and he could concentrate on Utopianizing the United States instead of dealing with the rest of the world; the enlightened mystics east of Suez were going to do that for him.

It hasn’t worked out that way because as with most progressive dogmas, reality got in the way. The mystics are really homicidal crazies, the world operates on actual physical laws rather than wishes, and Utopia really means “no place”.

He’s reduced to his standard community organizer schtick. Basically throwing “ideas” at the wall, and hoping something sticks.

It’s sort of like throwing rotten fruit at Chicago City Hall, and I’m sure he knows how to do that. So at least we’re actually somewhere close to his area of competence.

We also can probably stop worrying about him trying to stay in power after January of 2017, and the Democrats trying to change or ignore the laws and Constitution to keep him there. He can’t wait to leave, and they can’t wait to be rid of him.

In other words, they’ve caught up with the half of America that never wanted the dipsh!t there to begin with.

clear ether

eon

eon on September 16, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Backing the Syrian rebels with weapons, to me, does not make sense. How does anyone know whose side they’re on? The Kurds on the other hand should be fully armed with best weapons.
Bomb ISIS to hell in Iraq, contain them in Syria. Let Assad and the rebels deal with ISIS in Syria.
Also, stop the flow of oil going to the black market. If ISIS is making three million in oil sales on the black market this needs to be stopped immediately.
I don’t know if this is a reasonable plan, any thoughts?

woodhull on September 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM

So there’s no coalition, SFA and ISIS now have a non-agression pact but Obama wants to arm SFA anyway, and Obama is going to attack ISIS’ enemy’s air defenses.

Obama is proposing to indirectly arm ISIS some more and bomb ISIS’ enemy.

forest on September 16, 2014 at 9:37 AM

So…is #underpower #smartpower?

Star Bird on September 16, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Yes. Pin pricks are smart power proper. At least according to these pin(head)pricks.

onomo on September 16, 2014 at 9:39 AM

any thoughts?

woodhull on September 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Only thoughts about what a sane society would do with Obama and his administration that would likely get me banned.

justltl on September 16, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Tuesday morning comedy relief, courtesy of the WaPo comments on this editorial:

“The Iraq invasion was a c*ck-up. And it is a c*ck up we will be living with for the next 50 years.”

-British Major General Julian Thompson

“The invasion of Iraq was the “greatest strategic disaster in United States history.”

-Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, a Vietnam veteran, October 2005

The chickenhawk cheerleaders from 2003 are back with more “advice” lol!

(Bush!)

How long did it take the neocon WaPo editorial board to go from “air strikes are the way to go” to “U.S. boots on the ground”??

About a week. Typical.

Who does the Post think it’s kidding? We got lied into that useless $2 trillion war by Bush and his phony “coalitiion,” all while Fred Hiatt and the Post stood by and clapped. They have no idea what they are talking about, and can’t even admit that they were dead wrong back in 2003.

Why should we listen to these failed chickenhawks now?

(Bush!)

Obama is doing things.Killing people with airstrikes is doing something. His actual strategy, however, is geared to what the threat is and what the realities are. Hint: his intelligence officials have publicly announced that ISIS poses no near-term threat to the US homeland.

(2 months before the original 9/11, we were told the same thing about al Qaeda)

Brought to you by the same people who lobbied for GW Bush’s Iraq War DISASTER.

(Bush!)

Stay the course, Mr. President. Your critics don’t have any better ideas.

Our foolish alliance with Israel has crippled US policy in the Middle East for over forty years. No tactical adjustments in our approach can compensate for such a massive strategic blunder. If we are going to protect US interests, we will have to start with a re-assessment of US-Israeli relations.

(Joooos!)

Bush I was smart enough NOT to follow neocons demands to keep going in Iraq and topple Saddam. And, he was driving Iraq out of Kuwait. This is entirely different.

By the way, I though Cheney and his puppet Bush trained the Iraqi Army, “standing them up” so we could withdraw ALL FORCES according to the SOFA Bush negotiated with Iraq. And now we find out that was just another lie from the Bush Administration.

(Bush!)

Oh, and later in the comments, one of the O’bama Cultists admits that he became a fan of O’bama just by looking at a picture of him! Can’t make this stuff up, kids…

“MY BRAIN HURTS!”

Del Dolemonte on September 16, 2014 at 9:42 AM

“Underpowered??? Of course! That is the plan”, smiles Valerie J. in her conference call to Qatar and Iran.

albill on September 16, 2014 at 9:51 AM

eon on September 16, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Well said, sir. +100.

One cannot, however forget Secretary of State Herman Munster supporting the incursion: until he decides to not support it. Along with former S0fS Cankles holding her finger in the air constantly , in order to strongly assert that she’s been in favor of what’s popular today, all along.

One simply cannot make up a more talentless, antiAmerican gaggle of buffoons than this.
And yet: 42% approval. Who, exactly ARE these 42%?
I mean, outside of those who make up 11% of the US demographic who’d vote for Dear Liar even if dead.
Who are totally not racists, because it’s impossible for them to be racists, even when voting for a man strictly because of the color of his skin.

orangemtl on September 16, 2014 at 9:52 AM

He wasn’t alerting Syria so much as alerting us that he’s going to be bombing government-held positions in Syria. That way, his original objective of ousting Assad can be pursued without objection under the guise of fighting ISIS. ROCnPhilly on September 16, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Good grief. He can’t go to war without telling his base in advance what enemy targets are going to be hit and in the process alerting Syria and endangering those making the bombing runs.

Basilsbest on September 16, 2014 at 9:59 AM

Underpowered is a pretty good description of not just the strategy, but also the strategists.

King Barack wants to keep a lid on it…until he can get out of office.

GarandFan on September 16, 2014 at 10:01 AM

ISIL is not Muslim. — B. Hussein Obama

He WON’T do what is necessary to destroy them. Instead of doing his JOB and playing Commander-in-Chief for a while, as an AMERICAN, he rather spends his time thinking of how he would “advise” ISIS if he were working for THEM.

Which of course, in reality, he IS working FOR THEM.

Meople on September 16, 2014 at 10:22 AM

ISIS is sunni.

obama is sunni.

davidk on September 16, 2014 at 10:36 AM

He wasn’t alerting Syria so much as alerting us that he’s going to be bombing government-held positions in Syria. That way, his original objective of ousting Assad can be pursued without objection under the guise of fighting ISIS.

ROCnPhilly on September 16, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Yes, it’s another con job.

It might seem far fetched if Obama hadn’t already gone to war on behalf of Sunni jihadists when he ordered the use of the cruise missiles on Kadaffy’s army.

forest on September 16, 2014 at 10:46 AM

After hearing the what Hagel said today at the….hearing, I cannot believe the CJCS sits there and believes the so called plan will work. Jeez he has his retirement, buck the plan and tell it like it is to the senate committee.

jake49 on September 16, 2014 at 11:47 AM

The WH has been informed that members of ISIS have flown to Mexico, have sworn to cross into the US, and has vowed to initiate car bombings, suicide bombings, and other vicious attacks against Americans. Obama, in turn, has publicly claimed there is NO ISIS threat, that they would never cross his wide-open southwestern border (which they obviously know is only for Illegals wanting amnesty) and refuses to secure the border/our national security.

Should ISIS be able to carry out their threats by crossing into the US through Obama’s wide-open SWern border, 1) Obama should immediately be IMPEACHED…and 2) These ISIS members should be hunted down, beheaded, and their heads be place on pikes along the SWern border as a warning to others who seek to invade our country and harming American citizens!

easyt65 on September 16, 2014 at 12:08 PM

And today Kerry reveals he wants to spread ‘real’ Islam to counteract the not real Islam. So now Hussein Obama wants to actively spread Islam.

The next step is to make Islam the official religion of Amerika.

As stupid as stupid gets.

TerryW on September 16, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Via The Hill:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Tuesday wouldn’t rule out having American advisers accompany Iraqi troops into battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

President Obama has deployed 1,600 U.S. advisers to Iraq so far, but has stressed that there are no “boots on the ground” in a combat role.

But Gen. Martin Dempsey said it’s possible he could at some point recommend to Obama that the American advisers begin riding along with Iraqi forces as they take on ISIS, which would put them in harm’s way.

“To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president,” Dempsey said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, using an alternate acronym for the group.

Can you say ‘mission creep?’

Resist We Much on September 16, 2014 at 12:16 PM

And today Kerry reveals he wants to spread ‘real’ Islam to counteract the not real Islam. So now Hussein Obama wants to actively spread Islam.

TerryW on September 16, 2014 at 12:11 PM

I love how:

* Barack Obama (United Church of Christ)

* John Kerry (Roman Catholicism w/ Jewish ancestry)

* Chuck Hagel (Episcopalian)

* Martin Dempsey (Roman Catholicism)

* John McCain (Baptist)

* Hillary Clinton (Methodist)

* Lindsey Graham (Southern Baptist)

* Samantha Power (Roman Catholicism)

* Susan Rice (Agnostic)

* Joe Biden (Roman Catholicism)

* David Cameron (CofE Anglicanism)

* Ed Miliband (Jewish)

* Nick Clegg (agnostic atheist)

* Ed Balls (CofE Anglicanism)

* Tony Blair (Roman Catholicism)

ALL claim to know more about ‘REAL’ Islam than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed Caliph of the Islamic State, who obtained BA, MA and PhD degrees in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad.

Why do white elites think that they know more about a subject than brown-skinned man, who is quite obviously supremely educated on the matter?

I wonder if al-Baghdadi ever utters words like ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’ although I doubt he thinks it is soft.

John Kerry Now An Expert On Islam: ISIS’ ‘Hateful Ideology Has Nothing To Do With Islam” – Let’s See What Real Experts on the Subject Say…

Resist We Much on September 16, 2014 at 12:47 PM

So, 3000 pairs of boots on the ground for an international health crisis (Ebola) which one would think is actually something that the World Health Organization should address. No boots (pairs or otherwise) for battling an army of Islamic terrorists who have avowed to take over the United States.

Brilliant.

FiveG on September 16, 2014 at 1:16 PM

It depends on which version of the military intervention at which we look.

This is the sort of English up with which I shall not put!

There Goes the Neighborhood on September 16, 2014 at 1:23 PM

It depends on which version of the military intervention at which we look.

This is the sort of English up with which I shall not put!

There Goes the Neighborhood on September 16, 2014 at 1:23 PM

To paraphrase Holmes (A Scandal in Bohemia) only a German or Yoda is so discourteous to his verbs.

cheers

eon

eon on September 16, 2014 at 2:17 PM