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Hagel and the administration's incessant talking

Hagel and Obama loose lips
Hagel and Obama loose lips
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Words matter when you are engaged in warfare. There is a time for public education, and that often comes from the media. There are ways to describe situations that are clear and concise without revealing emotional spin. When leaders show emotions to their enemies in their words and behavior, they expose weaknesses and vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

For instance, the Obama administration announced this week that it had tried to rescue ISIS captured Americans before one was decapitated. They failed in the attempt. That is all that needed to be said, but the administration didn’t stop there. They added too much information describing details and reasons for failure.

Why do they do the things they do? The answer is politics. President Obama wants to be known for having tried a rescue. He wants to be known for his transparency, with some notable exceptions. For instance, he decided on his own to swap valuable and dangerous Taliban terrorists for an alleged Army deserter held by the Taliban after he walked away, apparently to meet them. (That has yet to be proven, but is a viable theory.)

President Obama sneaked behind Congressional oversight and review to make a unilateral decision that is a violation of U.S. law requiring him to inform Congress well in advance any such event. He could have called the Congressional leaders at least, but he didn’t. Evidence shows that he knew he was breaking the law and knowingly acted in violation of it.

Now, Defense secretary Hagel who is an intimate actor in questionable events is talking. Let’s see what he is telling our enemies:

  1. Islamic State is the strongest enemy and threat to the United States that we have seen in recent history. (Is it stronger than Iran that is on the edge of possessing nuclear weapons and is openly sponsoring terrorism and insurgency? Is is stronger than Russia that has captured Crimea and threatens the Ukraine? Is it stronger than North Korea?)
  2. The U.S. should have seen the ISIL coming long in advance and could have acted in a timely manner. However, the Obama administration was engaged in some sort of the propaganda campaign to withhold and distort the facts by talking incessantly while letting Islamic State develop into a powerhouse.

“One cannot credibly argue that the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in 2010 contributed to the rise of ISIL without also acknowledging that the U.S. invasion in 2003 did the same. The former without the latter is a political argument, not a policy position. The same goes for airstrikes in Syria and arming the Syrian rebels. It’s a reasonable hypothesis that supporting the Free Syrian Army earlier might have blunted ISIL, but that’s a pretty hollow position if one also gives Syrian rebel factions a pass for tolerating and even embracing ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusrah through late 2012. As a long-time analyst of jihadism in the Middle East, it was clear to me in the summer of 2011 that the Islamic State of Iraq was well-positioned to capitalize on what was then a largely peaceful Syrian protest movement. And it was just as obvious that the group—whose brutality, extremism, and grandiose political aspirations were well-documented long before the Syrian uprising—would later turn on the Syrian rebels whose cause they claimed to champion. The same should have been obvious to the Syrian rebels, their external supporters, and pretty much anyone interested in the Syrian uprising and the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad.”

Here is what the Defense secretary has right. Combatting the Islamic State will take a comprehensive foreign policy that addresses the Middle East. It will also take robust allied support as well as support from China and (cough) Russia too.

“"It requires a variety of instruments, only one small part of which is airstrikes. I'm not predicting those will occur in Syria, at least not by the United States of America. But it requires the application of all of the tools of national power -- diplomatic, economic, information, military," he said.”

The Hill

“Defense secretary: ISIS threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

By Kristina Wong - 08/21/14 05:56 PM EDT

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is beyond "just a terrorist group" and poses a greater threat than Al Qaeda, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday.

"This is beyond anything that we've seen," he said during a briefing on Thursday afternoon about the Sunni militant group that has taken over territory in Iraq and Syria and earlier this week beheaded American journalist James Foley.

"ISIL is as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen," Hagel said. "They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded."

"So we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is that you take a cold, steely, hard look at it...and get ready," he said.

Hagel's remarks come months after Obama dismissed ISIS, calling the group "JV".
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was possible to "contain" ISIS, but "not in perpetuity." “

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