Judging by the blogs, America is more interested in the NFL-Ray Rice scandal than they are in Syria/Iraq and what the President might do about ISIS. But very basically, as I see it, in his speech last night the President attempted to simultaneously placate hawks and doves — thereby pissing off both — while pursuing an actual strategy that is limited and cautious and may or may not produce tangible results. It’s hard to say whether the President is being pushed more by politics or by actual security concerns.
I still think the primary focus should be on pushing Middle Eastern leaders to play the lead role in containing ISIS, since a bunch of violent religious whackjobs with plans for establishing themselves as leaders of a regional if not global theocracy are a more immediate threat to them than to us.
Back in 2000 and early 2001 the incoming Bush Administration brushed off the hair-on-fire intelligence they were given about a real threat of a major terrorist attack on U.S. soil by al Qaeda. And of course, they were wrong. Since 9/11, they’ve seen jihadists in every shadow, and they are still wrong. There’s no reason to think ISIS plans to leapfrog half the globe to strike in the U.S., in spite of the Right’s hair-on-fire claims they are doing exactly that already. In fact, for the most part intelligence experts — whose hair was on fire about al Qaeda in 2000 — are not that alarmed about ISIS being a threat to the U.S.
“As formidable as ISIL is as a group, it is not invincible,” Matthew G. Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said last week, using an alternate name for the group. “ISIL is not Al Qaeda pre-9/11” with cells operating in Europe, Southeast Asia and the United States. Mr. Olsen’s assessment stood in contrast to more pointed descriptions by other American officials like Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has said that ISIS poses an “imminent threat to every interest we have.”
The group has been vulnerable, for instance, to airstrikes coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces in northern Iraq in the past month, Mr. Olsen said, noting that as a result, “ISIL is losing arms, it’s losing equipment, and it’s losing territory.”
Despite the attention ISIS has received, when American counterterrorism officials review the threats to the United States each day, the terror group is not a top concern. Al Qaeda and its affiliates remain the most immediate focus. That is because ISIS has no ability to attack inside the United States, American and allied security officials say, and it is not clear to intelligence officials that the group even wants to.
Compare/contrast this with the ravings of Dick the Dick. The headline on his American Enterprise Institution speech reveals more than the speech — it’s “9/11 and the future of US foreign policy.” The speech itself basically dumps every enemy of America since World War II into the same filing cabinet and strongly implies that there is no choice but for America to destroy them all. Doing so would require obliterating about a third of the planet, and the potential repercussions of that don’t seem to have occurred to Dick, whom I strongly suspect is not all that bright. His chief talent is exuding gravitas, which has gotten him a long way, obviously.
It’s all about 9/11 for Dick, because he was horribly and massively wrong about al Qaeda before 9/11, and disaster ensued, and apparently that was something his ego couldn’t process, and he’s been acting out about it since. He seriously needs therapy. And he seriously needs to shut up.
Now he and Grandpa John and others have hair-on-fire alarm — assuming they had hair — about ISIS. And the Right in general appears to believe that the Real Enemy is Islam itself, which means we have 1.6 billion enemies, at least, who must be eliminated to assuage Dick the Dick’s personal existential crisis.
It has been 13 years since 9/11, and the U.S. Right is still dancing to the late Osama bin Laden’s tune. The attacks are still causing us to self-destruct. BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA.