The ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee actually said this in a released statement on Saturday, but Barack Obama doubling down on failure today makes it especially noteworthy now. No one expects John McCain and Lindsey Graham to have anything but criticism over Obama’s ISIS strategy so far, but when it comes from Obama’s own party leadership, it’s a different story. The Hill’s Kristina Wong reports on Dianne Feinstein’s critique in the wake of Obama’s remarks today:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, joined Republicans in saying the U.S. needed to do more.
“It has become clear that limited air strikes and support for Iraqi forces and the Syrian opposition are not sufficient to protect our country and our allies,” she said in a statement. …
McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who is a Republican presidential candidate, said the U.S. and Arab allies should form a ground force to defeat the terrorist group.
“They have large armies. Let’s use their armies in a smart way and integrate our forces within a regional army and get the French involved, any NATO nation that would like to help,” said Graham, who appeared with McCain.
“They’re not the JV team, but not they’re certainly not 10 feet tall. The worst possible solution is half-measures. If we just drop a few bombs on these guys and that’s it, they’ll be stronger than ever,” said Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee and retired Air Force colonel.
The Daily Beast noted Feinstein’s remarks yesterday as a signal that Obama’s party has begun to distance itself from the stench of failure, and may be ready to entertain a more muscular approach. And that’s exactly what it will take, a former CIA operative tells Christopher Dickey:
Thus a CIA veteran with long experience hunting Osama bin Laden and trying to outmaneuver ISIS, speaking privately, tells The Daily Beast, “Everybody is going to respond to this thing with solidarity, tying little ribbons on trees and that sort of bullshit,” when what’s needed, in his opinion, is “to drive a stake in their heart.”
How would you do that?
“Put together a force of 6,000 or 7,000 airborne soldiers and just take Raqqa. Don’t issue warnings. Don’t assemble tank columns. Train the force, then use it,” said this gentleman, a veteran of the clandestine services, but not of the military. “They have made Raqqa the capital of their state. Take it and you have changed the ground immediately. You can’t fight ISIS with baby steps, and what happened in Paris gives you the immediate rationale to do something strategic. Otherwise? They are winning.”
U.S. politicians are also hinting at the idea of boots on the ground against ISIS—Sen. Diane Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a statement on Saturday that noted, “The fight is quickly spreading outside Iraq and Syria, and that’s why we must take the battle to them.”
“I strongly believe we need to further increase our efforts in Syria and Iraq directly and expand our support to partner nations in other countries where [ISIS] is operating,” Feinstein continued. “It has become clear that limited airstrikes and support for Iraqi forces and the Syrian opposition are not sufficient to protect our country and our allies. This is a war that affects us all, and it’s time we take real action to confront these monsters who target innocent civilians.”
Note the dramatic difference in tone today from Obama’s contention that we have to change the dynamic on the ground before we can confront monsters. Feinstein also escalates this to an explicit demand for action to preserve our own national security, not just an intervention to stop multiple genocides and restore stability in the region. Paris taught Feinstein a lesson that Obama refuses to acknowledge, and in fact openly disdains.
I wonder what he’ll have to say about Feinstein “pop[ping] off.” She’s one of his “folks,” after all, and she may be speaking for many more of his – and Hillary’s — base.
Bernard Goldberg gets to the heart of the matter today. Does Barack Obama actually want to beat ISIS? It certainly doesn’t appear that way:
One day before the Paris massacre, Mr. Obama told ABC News that ISIS was “contained” – in Iraq and Syria. He may or may not be right about that, but no serious person would make the case that ISIS is contained beyond the chaos of the Middle East. Nor would any serious person contend that ISIS is a jayvee team, the term Mr. Obama once used to describe the Islamic State. And despite what the president has said, ISIS isn’t “on the run,” either. Wishful thinking isn’t a legitimate policy when it comes to fighting savages.
This is a president who wants to end wars, a president who is determined to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Obama is a reluctant warrior – and that may be a generous description.
But does anyone think that the people behind the Paris slaughter don’t have the United States in their crosshairs? Does anyone think they’re not contemplating a similar attack in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles – or Peoria? And do we really think that ISIS won’t try to sneak a few terrorists into this country when we accept thousands of refugees from Syria?
Marco Rubio is right: “This is a clash of civilizations. Either they win or we win. This is a movement motivated by religion.” If President Obama prefers to use words like violent extremists to describe Islamic terrorists, if he’s more comfortable describing the slaughter at Fort Hood by a Muslim fanatic in the U.S. Army as workplace violence, then it’s fair to question whether he has the resolve to wage pitiless war against the enemy.
Feinstein’s certainly questioning it. The journalists at today’s G20 press conference all but explicitly asked Obama about it. The only resolve Obama is showing at the moment is that which keeps him from admitting he got this wrong ever since 2010, and has created an avoidable disaster.