I voted for Obama (twice) and was a huge enthusiast when he took office. His performance since then has been disappointing, but I blame a lot of that on the Republicans, whose program for the country seems to consist entirely of “block whatever Obama wants to do.” But in general, his views have been aligned with mine, i.e., liberal, and in favor of disengaging from futile wars in the Middle East. I don’t particularly like his stalling on immigration reform for purely political reasons, but what most bothers me now is that he seems directionless about the ISIS affair.
First he said he had no plan, then his plan was airstrikes, and now his plan is U.S. airstrikes combined with “boots on the ground” from other countries, like Turkey or Lebanon. And that plan is just dumb. Not because it’s unworkable in principle, but because it’s unworkable in practice. Really, who thinks that countries like Turkey are going to sacrifice a lot of their people while the U.S. just rains death from above? They risk the lives of their citizens; we don’t.
This is already clear as John Kerry scurries around the region trying to drum up support for ground troops, but without success. That was absolutely predictable. And that leaves us with U.S. and European airstrikes, and that’s not going to eliminate ISIS—or so the military experts say.
What do we do? I have no idea. Half the time I think that we should just disengage from the region completely, at least from the futile wars in which we’ve already lost so many lives. Let ISIS do what they can; is it our responsibility to police the world? But then I think of all the innocents being slaughtered by that group, and how nobody but the U.S. can do anything about that, even if only by leading. Not only that, but clearly ISIS, if it becomes a dominant force in the region, will export its methods to our own country. It needs Lebensraum for its religion and its Caliphate.
Perhaps Obama is stymied by an unwinnable situation, and that accounts for his waffling. But right now all I see is that we’ll be pouring money and effort into a venture that is doomed to failure.