No one really asked for it, but President Obama this week offered a 5,200-word evaluation of his own job performance combating terrorism.
He gave himself an A.
Obama has struggled to seem relevant in these waning 43 days of his lame-duckness. As Americans’ eyes turn hopefully toward a new presidential administration under construction in New York City, simple static shots of a Trump Tower elevator overwhelmed once must-see images of Obama greeting leaders and reviewing troops in foreign capitals.
Obama’s got one long Air Force One voyage left: An 18-hour round-trip vacation junket to Hawaii next week at $209,000 per flight hour. But before then, he flew down to Tampa to tell Special Ops troops what they’ve been doing these last long eight years under his command.
As usual, Obama’s report had a strong emphasis on Obama. “On January 20th,” he said, “I will become the first President of the United States to serve two full terms during a time of war.” An unexpected boast from a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
You may recall Obama has told the military the biggest threat to national security is global warming. You may also remember he’s often said that defeating ISIS is his No. 1 priority. Your choice.
According to Obama’s report card on Obama, “We are breaking the back of ISIL.” He claimed the terror group is under attack in several places, its recruiting is damaged and that it’s lost much of its caliphate in Iraq while its capital in Syria is being “squeezed.”
“I believe that we must never hesitate to act when necessary, including unilaterally when necessary…I have also insisted that it is unwise and unsustainable to ask our military to build nations on the other side of the world, or resolve their internal conflicts…Even as we focus relentlessly on dismantling terrorist networks like al Qaeda and ISIL, we should ask allies to do their share in the fight, and we should strengthen local partners who can provide lasting security.”
No, that wasn’t Donald Trump speaking.
But this was Obama likely speaking to Trump:
The United States of America is not a country that imposes religious tests as a price for freedom. We’re a country that was founded so that people could practice their faiths as they choose. The United States of America is not a place where some citizens have to withstand greater scrutiny, or carry a special ID card, or prove that they’re not an enemy from within.
Obama’s positive self-evaluation omits a few things: He has enabled, even helped finance Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. Like George W. Bush’s ouster of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Obama’s ill-considered campaign to oust Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi did not contemplate the resulting chaos from “victory.”
Likewise Obama’s ad-libbed and unfulfilled red-line threat over Syrian use of chemical weapons opened the door for Vladimir Putin’s aggressive and ongoing expansion of Russian influence in the Middle East.
In Florida, Obama boasted of bringing home 150,000 troops from Iraq and reducing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to under 10,000. Although the casualties continue even this week; Of the U.S.’s 2,391 losses in 16 years, 74% came during this president’s eight years.
Obama didn’t have much to say about the residual effectiveness of such a reduced Afghan force in a vast, war-torn tribal land or how the Taliban has come to control more territory there now than any time since 2001. That will be left to someone else to address while Obama has someone write his memoirs.
Obama did remind us that Osama bin Laden still sleeps with the fishes. You may also recall Obama’s oft-repeated oopsie claim during the 2012 campaign that al Qaeda was decimated and on the run. That is, until Sept. 11, 2012, a murderous night of violence in Benghazi that was not the result of a YouTube video.
And Obama defended his 2011 decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq, denying that sudden power vacuum allowed the rise of ISIS and abetted divisive sectarian violence.
Speaking of that troop pullout, watch the video below of Obama’s repeated claims over ending the Iraq war. Be sure to stay until the very end to discover the useful lesson that, all along, Barack Obama has been grading himself on a convenient curve.