In all fairness, Obama inherited a mess with Bush’s Iraq. However, his administration’s half-baked strategies since then have resulted in the region sinking into further chaos. When the President completed the US troop withdrawal in 2011, he left over a billion dollars worth of American weapons and equipment in the hands of Iraqi forces–many (also trained by the US) are now likely fighting under the flag of ISIS. It’s also a safe bet to speculate that millions of dollars of US funded weapons and ammunition is now under ISIS control.
An opportunity for the Obama administration to create stability in the region has been lost and with close to a quarter million dead in Syria, the only certainty in the Middle East in the near future is more death and destruction. It’s like the movie Mad Max playing out in real time only it’s not Hollywood fiction. The death toll is real and rises daily.
A core issue at hand is that the only strategy at play is that there is no strategy. American and Coalition Special Operations troops are some of the best trained and experienced fighting forces the world has seen but are akin to a team of highly skilled professional athletes poorly coached. The free world is losing the war on radical Islam, and unless the core issues of what motivates the terrorist of tomorrow are addressed, the Joint Special Operations Command(JSOC) CAG (Combat Applications Group) led whack-a-mole game of killing HVTs in Syria and Iraq will continue with no end in sight.
The chaos is fine with the current leaders of Islamic radicalism who believe that the “End of Times” is coming. The Apocalypse theory also plays right into the ISIS’ public relations war machine, their PR campaigns have foreign fighters flooding into the region from Turkey on a daily basis.
“The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, which can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.” –Graeme Wood writing for the Atlantic
Many were critical of US Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s statement that said the Iraq fighters had lost their “will to fight” ISIS. I would argue that you have to first have “a will” in order to lose it.
The current administration has a failed to create a clear and understandable foreign policy strategy in the Middle East, and regardless of political affiliation Americans should take note of this during the next Presidential election in 2016. Washington needs a clear understanding of the threat of ISIS and what motivates the group, a lack of understanding and poor planning could actually draw in US forces and play into the “End of Times” theory of the group furthering their cause.
Bottom line, the leadership in Washington DC needs to start treating the core problems of Islamic terrorism and what furthers it, rather than focusing on symptoms. Until that happens, we will continue to put Americas best fighting force at risk, with little return on investment?