Giving Foreign Policy Back To the GOP
by Deacon Blues
When Obama told Steve Kroft for Sunday’s “60 Minutes” that blame for the rise of ISIL rests with collective failures of the intelligence community and the Iraqi Army, he continued a tradition under his administration of blaming others for the faults of his own White House team. There was immediate pushback from within the intelligence community, both here and abroad, and from the national security media, challenging the notion that the White House was somehow blindsided by ISIL’s rise and the failings of the Iraqi armed forces. Both the IC and the media were quick to point out that the White House could not have missed signals and reports going back to 2011 on the risks of a destabilized Syria and the failings of the Iraqi Army, and from 2012 on the gathering strength of ISIL in that vacuum. Yet as late as this week, Obama gave an unconvincing performance of a man six years into his tenure still trying to point the finger outward when in fact he needs to look within.
As a result of this terrible willingness to let his White House staff dictate policy based on polls and political considerations, something that permeated his first-term foreign policy as well, public opinion has suddenly shifted in the GOP’s favor for the remainder of his term. The public doesn’t believe Obama anymore when he talks about not putting boots on the ground, because they think he’s already let things get out of control so much in Iraq and Syria that we’ll need to go back in regardless of what Obama says. It should not be surprising that the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows the public expects America to take on the burden of fighting ISIL, by large numbers if the military leadership determines it necessary. The one part of government with large approval ratings over a discredited Congress and administration is the military. Once again, like on immigration and other issues, this White House has mishandled an issue so badly that they’ve handed the political advantage back to their opponents, and you can be sure that the GOP will ride this through November and into their new majorities in 2015.
Sure, there is internal finger-pointing going on now between those inside the administration who were obsessed at the time with getting rid of Assad and those who now claim they saw the danger inside Iraq all along, but the role of your National Security Advisor is not to make another Condi Rice pre-9/11 mistake, but to sort out and highlight urgent priorities for the president. Nothing of the kind happened here, again, and even if it did, there’s no indication from his record that Barack Obama would have acted. As a result, and ironically, he now finds himself saddled with his own dereliction of duty, just like George W. Bush did in August 2001.