The latest reason for hoisting said banner is this apparent decision by political operatives on the left to blame Republicans for the ebola epidemic. Because of them, so the meme goes, we’ve had a lack of funding. And that lack of funding is blamed for the failure to have a viable ebola vaccine. Per the NIH chief, they’d have likely succeeded in creating an ebola vaccine if only they’d had the money:
Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, said that a decade of stagnant spending has “slowed down” research on all items, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. As a result, he said, the international community has been left playing catch-up on a potentially avoidable humanitarian catastrophe.
“NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001. It’s not like we suddenly woke up and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have something ready here,'” Collins told The Huffington Post on Friday. “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”
As the following chart shows, the problem wasn’t money at all:
Since 2001, tons of money have gone toward global health programs. Tons. And the upward move was made during Republican control. So to say his point is BS is to be kind.
In fact, it is likely to have been all about priorities instead, and ebola wasn’t a priority. Secondly, as Glenn Reynolds points out, it had to do with mission creep.
As The Federalist‘s David Harsanyi writes: “The CDC, an agency whose primary mission was to prevent malaria and then other dangerous communicable diseases, is now spending a lot of time, energy and money worrying about how much salt you put on your steaks, how close you stand to second-hand smoke and how often you do calisthenics.”
These other tasks may or may not be important, but they’re certainly a distraction from what’s supposed to be the CDC’s “one job” — protecting America from a deadly epidemic. And to the extent that the CDC’s leadership has allowed itself to be distracted, it has paid less attention to the core mission.
So money which could have been and should have been dedicated to the core mission was instead spent on ideologically supported nonsense. Any wonder why “money” wasn’t available? Because it was wastefully spent elsewhere in the structure of the CDC and NIH.
Gov. Bobby Jindal gives us more facts on the problem:
In recent years, the CDC has received significant amounts of funding. Unfortunately, however, many of those funds have been diverted away from programs that can fight infectious diseases, and toward programs far afield from the CDC’s original purpose.
Consider the Prevention and Public Health Fund, a new series of annual mandatory appropriations created by Obamacare. Over the past five years, the CDC has received just under $3 billion in transfers from the fund. Yet only 6 percent—$180 million—of that $3 billion went toward building epidemiology and laboratory capacity. Especially given the agency’s postwar roots as the Communicable Disease Center, one would think that “detecting and responding to infectious diseases and other public health threats” warrants a larger funding commitment.
Instead, the Obama administration has focused the CDC on other priorities. While protecting Americans from infectious diseases received only $180 million from the Prevention Fund, the community transformation grant program received nearly three times as much money—$517.3 million over the same five-year period.
There are the numbers of funds available to the CDC for its core mission. $3 billion dollars. Spent on its core mission from that fund? $180 million. So how again is that the GOP’s fault?
Instead the truth of the matter is we have a bureaucracy with a supposedly single mission (for heaven sake, its even in their name – “Centers for Disease Control”) which has instead done what bureaucracies always do … creep their authority out into areas where they don’t belong (with the approval of the administration, of course), doing things that mostly fulfill an ideological agenda instead of an agenda of real worth to the citizens it supposedly serves. The money that should have gone toward heavy research into communicable disease threats such as ebola instead went to “fund neighborhood interventions like “increasing access to healthy foods by supporting local farmers and developing neighborhood grocery stores,” or “promoting improvements in sidewalks and street lighting to make it safe and easy for people to walk and ride bikes.”
So while we sit here and watch the left attempt this bit of BS (and watch a certain segment of the citizenry lap it up), let’s remember the reality of why there’s no ebola vaccine. It has absolutely nothing to do with money and everything to do with political priorities.
In this case the priority chosen has put us in a position to be essentially defenseless in the face of a disease for which we should have developed a vaccine by now. But I bet we have some great bike paths out there.
And that failure, friends, is clearly attributable to the administration in power which is responsible for that shift in priorities.
Stephen Hayes starts his article about Barack Obama’s failure as a president by pointing out what his big goal was to be:
A year before his first inauguration, Barack Obama laid out the objective of his presidency: to renew faith and trust in -activist government and transform the country. In an hourlong interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal on January 16, 2008, Obama said that his campaign was already “shifting the political paradigm” and promised that his presidency would do the same. His model would be Ronald Reagan, who “put us on a fundamentally different path,” in a way that distinguished him from leaders who were content merely to occupy the office. “I think that Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not. And in a way that Bill Clinton did not.”
If Reagan sought to minimize the role of government in the lives of Americans, Obama set out to do the opposite. “We’ve had a federal government that I think has gotten worn down and ineffective over the course of the Bush administration, partly because philosophically this administration did not believe in government as an agent of change,” he complained.
“I want to make government cool again,” he said.
Hayes then documents an incredible list of failures that have led most Americans (according to polls) to believe government is involved in too much. Or said another way, government still isn’t “cool”. And big government is mostly a failure.
Take the ebola outbreak. Anyone, how does one prevent an epidemic from spreading? You isolate it. That’s normally done through quarantine. Part of the quarantine process is preventing those within a quarantine zone from traveling outside that zone. Yet, for whatever reason, our government hasn’t done that. Flights continue to come into this country from the countries in Africa which are suffering from the ebola epidemic.
Seems common sense, doesn’t it? Even Democrats, not long on common sense most of the time, are wondering why this hasn’t been done.
The lawmakers accused Obama of attempting to “pass the buck” onto organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO), which have advised against travel bans. Obama has said he would not ban travel unless the WHO reversed its position.
“[The WHO] has no duty to protect the lives and well-being of Americans, as you do. Furthermore, it has utterly failed to stem the epidemic through its own action. The responsibility for this decision is yours, not theirs,” they wrote.
As usual, Mr. “not my fault” is trying to pass off his responsibility to some other entity so, when it all blows up in his face – and it will, he can point the blame finger elsewhere. Meanwhile flights continue to arrive in the US from the infected countries. Upset airport workers charged with cleaning planes after they have arrived have struck in NY, so concerned are they with this lack of common sense.
My guess, if I had to make one, is Obama is trapped by his own political correctness. Already the race baiters have been trying to tie the outbreak with racism. If Obama prohibits flights he risks being branded a racist. That’s much worse, in Obamaland, that not protecting the citizens of the country with which you’re charged Constitutionally to protect. Instead we get airy promises that everything is under control. After the airy promise that ebola would never reach here (see Dallas).
Meanwhile on the southern border, we have no freakin’ idea of who is crossing into this country. And, of course, we’re ill prepared on that border to screen anyone. Apparently, according to news reports, most air travel from those countries comes through 5 of our major airports and they’re now ramping up screening procedures to detect those who might exhibit signs of ebola infection. No mention of how they plan on keeping those who are infected from possibly infecting fellow travelers and keeping those fellow travelers spreading it even further. That of course would be a problem solved if they banned flights.
Then there’s Gen. John Kelly, US Southern Command commander who shines another light on the possibility of spreading the disease here … primarily across our southern border.
He said the danger is two-fold: Not only might illegal immigrants from Africa enter the U.S. unchecked, but if Ebola spreads to Central America it could spark a new wave of illegal immigration to the U.S. that would make this summer’s surge “look like a small problem.”
“If Ebola breaks out in Haiti or in Central America, I think it is literally ‘Katie bar the door’ in terms of the mass migration of Central Americans into the United States,” the general said.
You think?! And where would they head? Well I think we all know where.
This is pretty basic stuff for any government, one would think. This is kind of like picking up the trash, fixing potholes and keeping the roads clear of snow for most municipal governments. That’s what they’re primarily elected to do. Oh, and protect the citizenry. Yet here we have the “government is cool” gang again failing in its most fundamental function.
However, given their track record as outlined by Hayes, few should be surprised. I still laugh at the left’s characterization of Bush as “incompetent”. To describe this administration we have to come up with a completely different term which is far worse than “incompetent”.
I think “utter failure” works nicely.
The Obama economy is a mess, with median incomes retreating, fudged employment numbers and generally the usual mess you can expect from a over-regulated and highly manipulated “market”. In other words, it stinks because of government as much as anything else. Our betters seem not to understand the very basics of human nature – humans respond to incentives. So they continue to cobble together more and more feel good projects (i.e. they make the “elite” feel good) that backfire. Why? Because humans respond to disincentives as well – and their feel good projects are long on disincentives, something they can’t seem to wrap their heads around.
By design, the next example of that will take place after the November mid-term elections:
Starting this year, the United States’ working population will face three major employment disincentives resulting from the very benefits the Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides: (1) an explicit tax on full-time work, (2) an implicit tax on full-time work for those who are ineligible for the ACA’s health insurance subsidies, and (3) an implicit tax that links the amount of available subsidies to workers’ incomes.
A new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University advances the understanding of how much these ACA taxes will reduce overall employment, and why. It concludes that the reduction will be nearly double that projected by previous analyses. Labor markets ultimately will reduce weekly employment per person by about 3 percent—translating to roughly 4 million fewer full-time-equivalent workers.
4 million more jobs in an economy already suffering one of the lowest labor participation rates in its history. Why have “middle class” wages stagnated or dropped? One major reason has to do with disincentives like this. Its like the $15 minimum wage trope. Force it on business and they have a “disincentive” to hire people for jobs that aren’t worth that and an incentive to automate or go short handed and double up the work on someone else.
That’s precisely the type of disincentive that ObamaCare is about to inflict on the economy. We’ll then hear the usual nonsense about greedy and uncaring companies and how the “market” has failed us. It is as predictable as the next blizzard being somehow blamed on global warming.
Meanwhile, these 4 million that may join the currently unemployed are real people who will suffer real problems because of the disincentive provided by a very poorly thought out law that won’t effect those who passed it. All Democrats can hope is that enough people will drop off the unemployment roles by the time the next presidential election rolls around that the fudged unemployment stats look acceptable.
What a hell of a way to run a railroad.
Not narrowly restricting egress of people from West Africa will make Ebola harder to control and will limit unrest.
“Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday that a travel embargo on West African countries that are struggling with Ebola would make it much harder for them to control the virus.
“You isolate them, you can cause unrest in the country,” Fauci told “Fox News Sunday.” `’It’s conceivable that governments could fall if you just isolate them completely.”
Here’s the AP article. Tony is probably a smart guy, probably lots of letters after his name on his stationary and business cards. Probably from highly touted schools. Would it be improper of me to ask about the unrest being caused HERE? Or are we just supposed to suck it up and let ‘our government’ admit anyone they want to (that would be, yes).
Imagine a country where the leadership has let things get bad enough that people want to remove the current leaders and change the government. Can’t have that. The Obama administration understands that because they have a wealth of experience garnered through hard work and extremely careful planning in Libya. Perhaps that’s why the new approach is to use us as the world’s unrest relief valve and let the unhappy people come here instead.
“Frieden added that a travel ban could make it difficult to get medical supplies and aid workers to the affected regions in West Africa.”
“We really need to be clear that we don’t inadvertently increase the risk to people in this country by making it harder for us to respond to the needs in those countries,” he said, “by making it harder to get assistance in and therefore those outbreaks would become worse, go on longer, and paradoxically, something that we did to try and protect ourselves might actually increase our risk.”
Now, I know what he’s saying is those civilian flights can carry medically trained passengers and medical equipment, and medicines. Yes they can. And Domino’s or Asia Wok can deliver pizza or sushi directly to people in isolation here and the pharmacies that do prescription delivery can bring them their medications. They can, but I don’t think they should and I bet the rank and file in the CDC doesn’t think they should either. Let the government send aid, let WHO send aid. Let them charter the planes from the airlines that won’t be flying civilian traffic into those locations.
Frieden also doesn’t want to make it harder for Americans or other people who are allowed to enter the US to return home. You know what? it SHOULD be harder, they’re coming from a biological HOT Zone.
It’s hard on those 4 people that are in quarantine here in Dallas. It’s hard on the others that came in contact with Ebola Zero and are under observation to see if they’ve been infected, and it’s hard on the rest of us wondering if the vagrant that rode in the ambulance after Ebola Zero got transported, might have caught it before the ambulance was taken out of service and isolated.. and before they lost track of the vagrant (they know where he is, now….only 6 days later of course).
Newsflash Mr. head of the CDC – you can test and quarantine them there, or you can test and quarantine them here. One way, or another. Personally I think quarantining them THERE, where the disease is already running around is a much better option than quarantining them HERE, where they can elect to go to school a couple days after you’ve told them they’re in quarantine and are not to leave the house.
Why should the rest of us risk potential exposure because someone traveled for business, pleasure or personal reasons to a West African country where Ebola is literally in the streets?
Why should it NOT be more difficult for them? This epidemic isn’t new. It started in December of 2013, so we’re just 2 months shy of a year. Maybe people traveling to West Africa believe in the magic the DHS and CDC have used so far to stop disease from entering the US. That would be the magic created by letting anyone, and I do mean anyone, into the country. Oh, okay, I think we might have a special watch list for grannies from Idaho in wheelchairs, but so far I see we’re okay with Central American gang members, Central American kids with EV-D68 and people from Liberia with Ebola.
Clearly at this point anyone traveling to West Africa is kinda comfortable doing so because they do it. There is a reason I don’t swim in alligator bayous, belly crawl into rattlesnake dens or run into houses on fire; because I’m not comfortable doing those things. I don’t much care how they accomplish the restriction but from a government that has nearly banned your consumption of trans-fats, you’d think maybe a ban on travel to and from Ebolalaland would be a natural thing.
So, let them be tested there, and quarantined there in accordance with the choices they themselves made to travel there.
There’s a reason you channel access to contagious people and places. You do it to CONTROL the access, and try and limit the danger. Not that I have a tremendous amount of faith in government channeling and control right now and it could be because these bozos keep talking like this.
The Financial Times [subscription] is reporting that the US is poised to become the world’s largest producer of liquid petroleum (oil and natural gas liquids):
US production of oil and related liquids such as ethane and propane was neck-and-neck with Saudi Arabia in June and again in August at about 11.5m barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency, the watchdog backed by rich countries.
With US production continuing to boom, its output is set to exceed Saudi Arabia’s this month or next for the first time since 1991. […]
Rising oil and gas production has caused the US trade deficit in energy to shrink, and prompted a wave of investment in petrochemicals and other related industries. […] It is also having an impact on global security. Imports are expected to provide just 21 per cent of US liquid fuel consumption next year, down from 60 per cent in 2005.
The reason? Fracking. As Walter Russell Mead points out:
With productivity continuing to rise, the United States has a chance to become the single biggest producer of crude oil sometime in the near future. If you had said that a decade ago, you would’ve been laughed at and called a fool. What a difference fracking makes.
Indeed. The “peak oil” pundits were sure we were on the precipice of running out of oil. Now, it seems, the sky is indeed the limit. Which is why it makes little sense, given the state of climate science, that our President is busily engaged via the UN and other domestic agencies, in throttling back one of the most economically viable growth engines the American economy has at the moment (and for the foreseeable future).
Instead of working on a policy to limit future use of hydrocarbons, this White House should be pushing a policy that helps us safely and sustainably exploit these assets for all. Additionally, while petroleum is indeed a global commodity, this level of production would go a long way toward the promise of energy independence in time of crisis. It helps remove oil as a weapon of choice by various less than friendly states and allies of convenience.
Two winners for the US: economic growth and national security.
Instead we get an attempt to establish an new tax based on specious science.
Sort of par for the course, no pun intended.
Apparently we “underestimated” ebola and ISIS, but when it comes to the economy and our well being, our man in the White House did us proud, but we’re just not apt enough to realize that. From Obama’s “60 Minutes” interview:
Steve Kroft: You’ve got midterm elections coming up. Are you going to get shellacked?
President Obama: Well…
Steve Kroft: Or do you think that, I mean, are you optimistic? What are the issues and what are you going to tell the American people?
President Obama: Here’s what I’m going to tell the American people. When I came into office, our economy was in crisis. We had unemployment up at 10 percent. It’s now down to 6.1. We’ve had the longest run of uninterrupted private sector job growth in our history. We have seen deficits cut by more than half. Corporate balance sheets are probably the best they’ve been in the last several decades. We are producing more energy than we had before. We are producing more clean energy than we ever had before. I can put my record against any leader around the world in terms of digging ourselves out of a terrible, almost unprecedented financial crisis. Ronald Reagan used to ask the question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” In this case, are you better off than you were in six? And the answer is, the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office, but now we have to make…
Steve Kroft: Do you think people will feel that?
President Obama: They don’t feel it. And the reason they don’t feel it is because incomes and wages are not going up. There are solutions to that. If we raise the minimum wage, if we make sure women are getting paid the same as men for doing the same work, if we are rebuilding our infrastructure, if we’re doing more to invest in job training so people are able to get the jobs that are out there right now, because manufacturing is coming back to this country. Not just the auto industry that we’ve saved, but you’re starting to see reinvestment here in the United States. Businesses around the world are saying for the first time in a long time, “The place to invest isn’t in China. It’s the United States.”
So there you go. When you ask the salient question (are you better off now than you were 6 years ago), you dumbasses always give the wrong answer. You ARE better off because our King says so. Screw the fact that “income and wages” are not going up, or the labor participation rates is at historic lows or real unemployment is considerably higher than the manipulated number! You’re better off, dammit! And government can fix the wage problem – you know, just raise the minimum wage for heaven sake.
Given that level of cluelessness, are you at all surprised this administration underestimated ISIS and ebola?
Good riddance to the worst Attorney General in living history. In fact, I came to consider his department the “Department of Just Us” in which “justice” was a political tool to be wielded selectively and only when it helped those constituencies that comprised the “us”. And, of course, that included selective enforcement of the laws. Or said another way “rule of man” vs. “rule of law”.
The scandals such as Fast and Furious, were simply something to be expected from such a department. How could it be otherwise? They weren’t of the law, they considered themselves above the law. I have nothing nice to say about Eric Holder except I’m glad this day has finally come.
The Justice Department has been horribly harmed by that man’s tenure at the helm. Like America’s reputation in the world under Barack Obama, DOJ has a long climb back to respectability.
Meanwhile the “us” faction has immediately gone into action:
The Rev. Al Sharpton said his civil rights organization, the National Action Network, is “engaged in immediate conversations” with the White House as they work to name a successor to Attorney General Eric Holder, who is set to announce his resignation Thursday afternoon.
“We are engaged in immediate conversations with the White House on deliberations over a successor whom we hope will continue in the general direction of Attorney General Holder,” Sharpton said in a statement.
Walter Russell Meade does a great job of summing up the impact of yesterday’s “March of the Usual Lefty Organizations” in the name of taxing us into poverty with a carbon tax:
Street marches today are to real politics what street mime is to Shakespeare. This was an ersatz event: no laws will change, no political balance will tip, no UN delegate will have a change of heart. The world will roll on as if this march had never happened. And the marchers would have emitted less carbon and done more good for the world if they had all stayed home and studied books on economics, politics, science, religion and law. Marches like this create an illusion of politics and an illusion of meaningful activity to fill the void of postmodern life; the tribal ritual matters more than the political result.
And he’s precisely right. Besides being the usual collection of leftist professional protesters sprinkled with clueless pols and celebrities, nothing of note is going to change at the UN Climate Summit. Nothing. The outcome of that is, as they say, “already written in the books”.
The world’s largest emitters are declining to show up, even for appearances. The Chinese economy has been the No. 1 global producer of carbon dioxide since 2008, but President Xi Jinping won’t be gracing the U.N. with his presence. India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi (No. 3) will be in New York but is skipping the climate parley. Russian President Vladimir Putin (No. 4) has other priorities, while Japan (No. 5) is uncooperative after the Fukushima disaster that has damaged support for nuclear power. Saudi Arabia is dispatching its petroleum minister.
China, however, has found a wonderful new way to forever avoid any responsibility for reducing its output. It has become the “champion” for the poor and underdeveloped countries of the world and is helping put forward their demands:
China led calls by emerging economies on Friday for the rich to raise financial aid to the poor as a precondition for a United Nations deal to combat global warming. “When the financing is resolved, this will set a very good foundation to negotiate a good agreement,” China’s chief negotiator Xie Zhenhua told delegates from about 170 nations. Xie said developed nations, which have promised to raise aid to $100 billion a year by 2020, should have legally binding obligations to provide finance and technology to emerging economies, along with legally binding cuts in emissions.
Well of course the “rich nations” should … because that would have them pay China and India – two of the biggest carbon producers around. So China has, in effect, made an offer they must refuse, because leaving out the two largest carbon producers is sort of self-defeating, isn’t it? And anyway, we should pay for our “rich nation privilege”, shouldn’t we?
Meanwhile, Dr. Steven Koonin makes the point of saying what is clearly the truth in an op-ed in the WSJ – the science of climate change is not settled science. In fact, it’s not even close. Dr. Koonin, by the way, was the undersecretary for science in the Energy Department during Obama’s first term. So this isn’t some right-wing ideologue spouting off, but a serious scientist. Interestingly, he makes hash of the reliability of the climate models:
The models differ in their descriptions of the past century’s global average surface temperature by more than three times the entire warming recorded during that time. Such mismatches are also present in many other basic climate factors, including rainfall, which is fundamental to the atmosphere’s energy balance. As a result, the models give widely varying descriptions of the climate’s inner workings. Since they disagree so markedly, no more than one of them can be right.
And we’re still looking for that one model that is right … but remember, it is on the basis of those models that this entire “scare” or alarmism finds its roots. Make it a point to read the entire Koonin piece.
But never fear as our fearless leader will be in NY to address the UN summit (most likely a rushed speech between fund raisers and golf). Not that it will have any effect or make any difference. But in his mind, it will be “action”. In reality, it’ll be another example of him again being outplayed on the world stage.
Or, the “strategy” to “manage” ISIS, if you prefer. The Washington Post today, calls whatever the administration is trying to put together to confront ISIS “underpowered”. I think they’re being kind about it because they still want access to their administration sources. If what they report is true, it’s a failure before it is even attempted.
In Paris on Monday, two dozen governments pledged to help fight the extremists “by any means necessary, including military assistance.” But only a handful — not yet including Britain — have so far agreed to participate in air combat missions in Iraq, and none has yet signed on to support prospective U.S. air strikes in Syria. Nor is any sending combat troops.
The attenuated support reflects in part the complicated politics of the fight against the Islamic State, which controls a New England-size swath of territory across Iraq and Syria and commands tens of thousands of militants. Neighbors such as Turkey and Jordan are reluctant to openly join the fight, for fear of becoming targets of the terrorists. Sunni rulers are loath to fight on the same side as the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad or Iran — which, for its part, loudly declared Monday that it had rejected a U.S. cooperation proposal.
Note the emerging strategy – air combat missions. War from 20,000 feet. Pin-pricks whose effectiveness depends on good intel and timely intervention. And this administration is going to coordinate that? The administration that couldn’t even build a website? Note also that the missions are only agreed too for Iraq. None of these erstwhile allies has agreed to any in Syria. Result? ISIS has a safehaven. Yeah, we’ve never, ever seen that before have we?
So why are they reluctant? Lack of leadership by the US, plain and simple:
In large part, however, the restraint has been fostered by President Obama himself. As The Post’s Rajiv Chandrasekaran reported, Mr. Obama rejected the recommendation of his top military commanders that U.S. Special Operations forces be deployed to assist Iraqi army units in fighting the rebels, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry said the administration has turned aside troop offers by other nations. “There are some who have offered to do so, but we are not looking for that, at this moment anyway,”he told CBS News’s Bob Schieffer.
ISIS has to only guard against airstrikes? A group who butchers people on a daily basis would never consider human shields or setting up in schools or hospitals would they? And in Syria … they don’t even have to worry about it, do they? ISIS has cowed the Iraqi armed forces, the Kurds are playing defense, they’re free to roam Syria and we don’t need any troops on the ground at all? Yeah, because, you know, all we need are airstrikes.
But this is what most amazed me about the “strategy”:
Mr. Kerry said Monday that defeating the Islamic State will depend in part on non-combat initiatives such as discrediting its ideology, stopping the flow of jihadist volunteers and providing political and material support to the new Iraq government.
Non-combat initiatives like discrediting their ideology? Really? Again, we’ve been so successful doing that in the past 20 years, haven’t we? That’s why they’re such a small and declining group (wait, we were told that Al Qaida was kaput a while back weren’t we?). Oh, and the rich part? An administration that can’t even control its own southern border is going to stop the flow of jihadist volunteers … in the Middle East? What a freakin’ laugh riot that talking point is. Meanwhile, in a country that is under armed attack by a vicious army of murderers, Obama and the guys are going to provide “political and material support” to the new Iraqi government … but none that really helps stem the tide of the threatening jihadists controlling a large portion of their country … except of pinprick airstrikes to which ISIS will adapt (mark my words on that one).
This is going to end up being another of those half-assed attempts driven by polls (aka wag the dog) which, on its face, is simply a failure waiting to happen. This administration has no idea of what is required to face down and destroy ISIS (or any enemy for that matter). And it isn’t really going to attempt it. If anything it is going to attempt to talk ISIS to death. But as a real-time strategy, if what above is any indication of the administration’s intent, it’s a bust.
But then, what would one expect from an administration that is going to send 3,000 troops to Africa to “battle ebola”, but won’t send any to battle a real, honest-to-goodness enemy in Iraq?
Found on Facebook (Clare Spark), I think this nicely describes Obama’s speech last night:
I am not the first to point out that Obama is a postmodern president. Tonight he proved that label by his “not-so-fast” speech on foreign policy vis a vis ISIS. It was what the pomos call ” a performative act”–the last word in magical thinking.
Indeed. Platitudes, chest thumping, equivocation – and absolutely nothing new. He’s given a speech … the act is complete. The “ususal”. Talk equals action.
As we’ve become familiar with the “non-apology apology” in today’s life, we have now been introduced to the “non-strategy strategy”. What he talked about wasn’t a strategy, it was pure justification for doing … not much (even though he made it clear he doesn’t need Congress’s approval to do … not much). Apparently he thinks that a few airstrikes and few advisors will stimulate “allies” to do much more than that and take the bit and run with it. Yeah, that’s always worked so well in the past. Leading from behind again.
Also unknown is how one is going to take an obviously dispirited and seemingly unwilling (incompetent) Iraqi army and turn it around any time soon, but if there is a plan in there, that seems to be it, sort of. Oh, that and a “National Guard” (new name for the “awakening’s” militias)? Say what? But what I mostly got from it was he, like many other mistaken arm-chair generals, believes that he can accomplish “degrading” ISIS by air. First, any significant degradation would require a sustained air campaign on the level of our Gulf War “shock and awe” campaign. Not going to happen. Secondly, finding and killing ISIS C4 nodes, like we did with Saddam, is an extraordinarily difficult task in comparison. While we may randomly accomplish knocking out some of those nodes, it will be mostly luck without good hard timely intelligence (and acted upon immediately) about an enemy which remains mostly mobile.
And how about him deciding ISIS isn’t “Islam” or “Islamic”? Since when does he get to decide? Certainly some parts of greater Islam are against ISIS, but then Sunnis have no use for Shiites either do they? Does that make one or the other not “Islam”. Who gets to decide? Such declarations do Obama’s poor credibility even more damage and feeds the conspiracy theorists. But, that said, one has to wonder why it was so important for him to include that in a national policy speech. It is a total non-sequitur in my opinion. But for whatever reason, he chose to include it.
I think James Joyner has a good take on the speech. His first reaction:
The first thing I’d note is how much it sounded like any number of foreign policy speeches given by his predecessor. He declared again and again that, “As Commander-in-Chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people” and proudly enumerated all the ways that “we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country.”
Our Peace Prize president sounding like Bush … got to love the irony. Of course what Obama didn’t expound upon is how his withdrawal of troops from Iraq helped enable the ISIS expansion. Reality (i.e. an objective military assessment of the status of the Iraqi army and its actual abilities) rarely, if every, conforms to an arbitrary political deadlines. I think it is clear to everyone the pullout at that time was a very bad idea. It takes time to build an effective fighting force. What is now left in Iraq is a shattered and dispirited force. Because of that, we’re put in the position to again try to salvage a situation there. With greater forethought and less ideology, we would have kept US forces still there to ensure the Iraqi military was actually ready to confront a threat like ISIS instead of pretending it was so to keep a political promise.
Joyner’s second thought:
The second observation is that it’s still not clear exactly what Obama’s strategy is. His stated political objective is to “degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy” but he offered no plan that could plausibly do more than the former.
Well, except for, you know, “air strikes”. Hand wave, promise, done. Polls suck? Hitting ISIS popular? Wag the dog. It’s all about politics and elections, folks. Not the security of the United States. If someone had told him that his poll numbers would rise by not playing golf … well, there are limits you know. If it was truly about the security of the United States, this administration would be working to secure our borders, not ignoring the immigration laws.
Frankly, this is simply the logical continuation of Obama’s existing ISIL non-strategy and, indeed, his general counter-terrorism strategy of blowing up the bad guys and hoping they get tired of it eventually. We could call it the Global War on Terror but, alas, that name’s been taken. That’s rather unsatisfying but it’s not at all obvious what more the United States can or should do to degrade ISIL. The threat to the homeland is too tangential at present to warrant the proverbial boots on the ground. So, it’s Whack-a-Mole with no end in sight.
And the moles will continue to be whacked as we hear glowing progress reports from the Eastasian front.
Because? Well, that’s how we roll now. Back to the future.