He talks about "degrading" the barbarians, when the word he should be using is "destroying." He must make it clear that he takes no prisoners and is not interested in "bringing the enemy to the bargaining table." It's too late to "win their hearts and minds." He must make them dead, and for good measure promise to bury them with pig entrails, as John J. Pershing dealt with Muslim extremists with dispatch and efficiency in the Philippines just before the outbreak of World War I. He threw the fear of Allah into them, and maybe Mr. Obama could, too.
Mr. Obama can't come to terms with who the enemy is and how it must be dealt with. He talked brave talk in an interview with Steve Kroft of the CBS program "60 Minutes," but the president, who was deprived of an American childhood, never heard the proper answer to the boast by the schoolyard bully: "Yeah, you and who else?"
He sends his warplanes on missions to "degrade" the positions of the Islamic State, or ISIS or ISIL as it's usually called, and takes pains to limit damage. They're still hitting pickup trucks and now the occasional wheelbarrow. (The president is still learning about machinery.)
But he isn't conducting a buildup of planes and forces, one that would persuade the foe that the United States means sustained business, relying instead, as Rowan Scarborough reports in The Washington Times, on whatever planes are already on hand in the region. The president apparently has a strategy, developed since his earlier admission that he didn't have one, of waiting on Iraqi troops to get their act together and go to war. If the past is a guide, this will be the mother of all waits.
John Boehner, the speaker of the House, on Sunday told ABC's "This Week" that the United States may have "no choice" but to put its own soldiers into the mix of Iraqi, Kurdish and "moderate" Syrian rebels if they can't do it themselves, and no Western analyst thinks they can. "These are barbarians," he said, "and they intend to kill us. And if we don't kill them first, we're going to pay the price."
This is the message Mr. Obama should be sending to the battlefield, that he intends to give the Islamists no quarter, that their days of beheading innocents to defend their "faith" will soon be over. The president is more determined to shift the blame for falling asleep while ISIS collected the men and resources to run amok in Iraq, and to save the reputation of Islam against those he says pervert the religion of peace. He insists that no matter what, the 1,600 American advisers and "special operations" troops he has dispatched to the war is all he'll send. "We are assisting Iraq in a very real battle that's taking place on their soil, with their troops," he says. "This is not America against ISIL, this is America leading the international community to assist a country with whom we have a security partnership." This is the familiar claptrap of diplomatic bureaucrats that reassures nobody and frightens everybody.
Islamic extremism "means that we're going to see for some time ... that in a whole bunch of countries we're going to see radical groups spring up ... where you don't have a strong state security apparatus ... But rather than play whack-a-mole and send U.S. troops wherever this occurs, we have to build strong partnerships."
More claptrap. If there are no willing partners, the president should have said, that since he has twice taken an oath to defend and preserve the people who elected him, he will lead the United States to do whatever is necessary, for however long is necessary, to destroy those who set out to destroy America. This is the writ that runs for as long as the wind blows, the rivers run, the snow falls and the sun shines.
The president insists that the fault for enabling the barbarians to slip up on us is not his, but the fault of the intelligence services. That's not true. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, predicted to Congress last February that ISIS "probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit strength in 2014."