Let’s all agree on one point: President Barack Hussein Obama loves to be on TV and hear himself read from a teleprompter. But being a narcissist doesn’t make you a strategic thinker.
Take for example the recent Saturday morning press conference as Marine One awaited to whisk him away for a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard — bad optics. The president had already given a late night Thursday press conference regarding the problems in Iraq with the terrorist army, ISIS. As I wrote here, I applaud Obama for doing something, albeit quite narrow in scope and limited in execution — one artillery tube, seven trucks, and two mortar positions are hardly national security strategic objectives.
And so Obama took the stage Saturday morning for what? As reported by the Washington Times, “The president held the impromptu news conference before heading off with his family for a two-week vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. He sought to reassure Americans that his authorization of airstrikes against the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) won’t lead to a return of U.S. ground troops in Iraq.”
Again Obama continues to find it necessary to tell us — and actually the enemy — what he is NOT willing or wanting to do. The good thing is that the Kurdish Peshmerga Army is providing the boots on the ground. The problem is that Obama has not filled any of their requests for weapons support, which would enable them to effectively confront ISIS. As well, Obama has not committed to a U.S. air campaign to support Kurdish ground operations — something he was just “giddy” to do for the Libyan Islamists.
But when asked the tough question Saturday morning, whether he regrets not keeping a residual U.S. force in Iraq, Obama went into his usual diatribe of blame. As the Times writes, “the president at first laid blame on the Bush administration for the current situation, then claimed Iraq is so dysfunctional that it wouldn’t have mattered how many U.S. ground troops were stationed there to keep the peace.”
“I find interesting the degree to which this issue keeps coming up, as if this was my decision,” Mr. Obama said. “Under the previous administration, we had turned over the country to a sovereign, democratically elected Iraqi government. In order for us to maintain troops in Iraq, we needed the invitation of the Iraqi government and we needed assurances that our personnel would be immune from prosecution. … Let’s just be clear. The reason we did not have a follow-on force in Iraq was because a majority of Iraqis did not want U.S. troops there.”
No let’s be clear here, Barack Obama ran in 2008 to end the war in Iraq and so in 2011 he had no interest in policies supporting a residual force in Iraq.
In fact, it was Vice President Joe Biden who stated that Iraq would be one of Obama’s greatest accomplishments. So c’mon Mr. President own up. You can’t try to take credit when you believe things are going your way, and then eschew responsibility when things don’t — on your watch.
On Saturday, Obama further demonstrated his lack of strategic vision saying, “The only difference would be we’d have a bunch of troops on the ground that would be vulnerable. However many troops we had, we would have to now be reinforcing, I’d have to be protecting them, and we’d have a much bigger job. And probably we would end up having to go up again in terms of the number of ground troops to make sure that those forces were not vulnerable.”
Of those who blame Obama for the current crisis, Obama said, “That entire analysis is bogus and is wrong. But it gets frequently peddled around here by folks who often times are trying to defend previous policies that they themselves made.”
Clearly Obama has no clue as to how a residual force would have been employed — as an outer security cordon focused on counter-terrorist operations. It would have been far more difficult if not impossible for ISIS to cross the border of Syria into Iraq. It would have been difficult for Iranian Al Quds forces to establish themselves in Iraq. We could have had better military-to-military relations with the Kurdish forces. And al-Maliki would have been hard pressed to “purge” Sunni leadership from the Iraqi Army. That’s simple strategic vision, not political posturing.
This is what happens when Obama keeps parading himself before the cameras — he exposes his incompetence and duplicitous hypocrisy.
Mr. President it was YOUR decision to campaign for and completely withdraw from Iraq.
It has been YOUR decision not to recognize the ISIS threat — hardly a JV team huh?
It was YOUR decision not to support the Kurds when you know that Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki was cutting them off.
And it is YOUR weak excuse saying that Iraqi government reconciliation is the key to defeating ISIS. That is unconscionable — the two are mutually exclusive issues.
So, if I were advising President Obama, it would be to stay away from the camera and talk less. You should probably be less visible to the American people right now — they don’t like you anymore. Leadership is not about visual demagoguery, it is about showing vision, responsibility, and resolve, not the incessant game of blame.
As I was taught in the military, leaders take responsibility, they never take credit.