You think I’m kidding.
Hillary's strategy to defeat Isis:
✓Defeat Isis in Syria & Iraq
✓Disrupt & dismantle terrorist infrastructure
✓Harden our defenses
— John Podesta (@johnpodesta) November 19, 2015
In fairness, Jeb Bush’s strategy to win the primary seems, in hindsight, to have been “win the primary.”
Hillary did get into detail — lots and lots of detail — about what defeating ISIS would involve in her foreign-policy speech this morning, but there was one subject on which the details were a little vague. Let’s play a game called “spot the straw man.”
A more effective coalition air campaign is necessary, but not sufficient, and we should be honest about the fact that to be successful, airstrikes will have to be combined with ground forces actually taking back more territory from ISIS. Like President Obama, I do not believe that we should again have 100,000 American troops in combat in the Middle East. That is just not the smart move to make here. If we have learned anything from 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s that local people and nations have to secure their own communities. We can help them, and we should, but we cannot substitute for them. But we can and should support local and regional ground forces in carrying out this mission.
Now, the obstacles to achieving this are significant. On the Iraqi side of the border, Kurdish forces have fought bravely to defend their own lands and to re-take towns from ISIS, but the Iraqi national army has struggled, and it’s going to take more work to get it up to fighting shape. As part of that process, we may have to give our own troops advising and training the Iraqis greater freedom of movement and flexibility, including embedding in local units and helping target airstrikes…
[W]e need to move simultaneously toward a political solution to the civil war that paves the way for a new government with new leadership, and to encourage more Syrians to take on ISIS as well. To support them, we should immediately deploy the special operations force President Obama has already authorized, and be prepared to deploy more as more Syrians get into the fight. And we should retool and ramp up our efforts to support and equip viable Syrian opposition units.
I don’t know of any Republican who’s calling for 100,000 American troops or anything close to that scale to fight ISIS. McCain, the party’s most aggressive interventionist apart from his sidekick Lindsey, floated 10,000 troops yesterday in an interview. Admittedly, “10,000 troops” is probably less of a carefully thought through figure than a nice-sounding placeholder for the concept that we need a much larger infantry force in the fight; if the war were to widen and intensify, maybe the new placeholder figure would be closer to 100K. (Knowing McCain and Graham, that wouldn’t take long.) On the other hand, it’s awfully hard to imagine Americans supporting another massive military deployment in the Middle East so soon after Iraq under any circumstances apart from a WMD attack inside the U.S. So why is Hillary zeroed in on that 100,000 number? Probably for just the reason you think: She knows she’d end up sending more troops to Syria to fight ISIS as president, so she’s deliberately setting the bar unrealistically high now to make her deployments seem more “modest” later. She’s all but warning the left here that this war’s going to involve more boots on the ground. Just not 100,000 pairs of boots, so mellow out, why don’t ya?
Another noteworthy bit from today’s speech:
The bottom line is that we are in a contest of ideas against an ideology of hate, and we have to win. Let’s be clear, though, Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people, and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism. The obsession in some quarters with a clash of civilization, or repeating the specific words “radical Islamic terrorism” isn’t just a distraction, it gives these criminals, these murderers more standing than they deserve. It actually plays into their hands by alienating partners we need by our side.
“Nothing whatsoever”? That’s going too far even for some Muslims. We could, if she likes, debate comparative “tolerance” across different cultures, though. Here’s something from Pew for the First! Woman! President! to ponder:
There’s no sense arguing about “peace and tolerance,” though. Whether Hillary believes what she’s saying or not, she’d be saying it anyway because America’s governing class has settled on it as the best way to counter jihadi propaganda. Supposedly, if you gripe that Muslim culture is frighteningly illiberal in some respects, Team ISIS will cite it as further proof that the kuffar have been hypnotized by world Jewry into hating Islam, which will anger a few more otherwise nonviolent Muslims into becoming suicide bombers. Better to ignore the illiberalism entirely and repeat “you’re wonderful!” as needed, including and especially when bombs are going off somewhere. All those differences over equal rights for women and free speech and apostasy will iron themselves out in time. One way or another.
Via the Free Beacon, here’s Hillary being questioned after today’s speech about whether to send more troops to Syria. That’d be a “mistake” she says (for now). But is it a tactical mistake or a political mistake? Does anyone think ISIS would be doing better militarily if a few thousand Marines were on the ground?