Special to the AmNews
President Barack Obama’s overrating of security forces in Iraq and underestimating the conflict in Syria would appear a recipe for disaster, and this is just the half of the problems piling up on his plate, leaving him with a veritable Rubik’s Cube of troubles.
These issues were disclosed last Sunday on the CBS program “60 Minutes,” when Obama was interviewed by Steve Kroft. The president admitted that the intelligence on the events in Syria had “underestimated what had been taking place” in the country, though he seemed to suggest that the fault belonged to James Clapper, head of U.S. intelligence services. In effect, Syria became “ground zero for Jihadists around the world,” said Obama.
Moreover, he said the government had overrated the Iraq security forces, and he mainly blamed former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for this lapse, which allowed Islamic State to grab large sections of territory in both Iraq and Syria.
“Over the past couple of years, during the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of the chaos,” Obama told Kroft.
Though it wasn’t a withering interview, the president was nonetheless asked a few hard questions about the role of the U.S. in the Middle East crisis. “This is America leading the international community to assist a country with whom we have a security partnership with, to make sure that they are able to take care of their business.”
It was even more baffling to hear the president expound on the Syrian conundrum. “I recognize the contradiction in a contradictory land and a contradictory circumstance,” was another comment from the interview. “We are not going to stabilize Syria under the rule of Assad.”
On the other hand, he said, “in terms of immediate threats to the United States, ISIL, Khorasan group—those folks could kill Americans.” The Khorasan group only came to light in the past few days, which points to another inadequacy on the part of the president’s intelligence agencies.
If the American people in a recent poll are to be considered, then some 45 percent believe that the answer is U.S. boots on the ground—something the president has promised will not happen on his watch. Degrading and destroying Islamic State will not be easy with only airstrikes hitting them, according to House Speaker John Boehner, “and we will pay the price” if they are not destroyed, he said of the terrorists.
Meanwhile, the airstrikes will continue in Iraq and Syria. It is still not clear the extent to which other members of the 40-plus nation coalition—other than Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates—are significantly involved in the bombardment.
Perhaps it’s time the president listen to the American people on this issue, since he has ignored Congress and even members of the Democratic Party.