Senator John McCain insists that Obama is without one, a Middle East foreign policy that is. In his observation, Obama is playing hopscotch, jumping from situation to situation all in the same region without connecting the dots. McCain, an ardent critic of Obama said today on CNN that you can’t have a strategy if you don’t have a policy.
“Senator John McCain on State of the Union with Candy Crowley: "I would be launching airstrikes not only in Iraq, but in Syria against ISIS."”
McCain’s point is that ISIS (Islamic State) is a powerful organization that operates in Syria and Iraq, and is a direct threat to the United States.
Back up to a different time to establish the context. ISIS morphed into being from its seeds of al Qaeda in Syria. The reason why President Obama was not all-in in attacking Bashar al-Assad in Syria is because the rebel forces contained a strong element from al Qaeda and forces with which the U.S. did not feel comfortable. Interestingly, the Russians maintained alignment with the Syrian government because they were selling arms to Syria and because they did not see the rebels as a better alternative.
The U.S. and Russia collaborated to rid Syria of chemical weapons that were used by the Assad government. As intelligence increased about the rebels, the Obama administration stepped back while Senator McCain met with rebels, some of which became known as ISIS.
The Islamic State is Sunni Muslim extremists. Syria’s government is run by Shiite Muslim extremists. The rift between Muslim sects appears everywhere as the Iraqi government is falling apart because of it. Terrorist and insurgent organizations can continue to morph until they appear in political governance and representation such as the Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, and Hamas.
Following Senator McCain’s thread of thinking, the free world, led by the United States, should declare war against all terrorist organizations in the Middle East because they can morph into posing direct threats to governments and sooner than later to the United States.
War between Muslims is as bad as war with one or another sect, because at the foundation is intolerance of anyone outside of their particular belief. It might be thought that once a “religion” becomes so intolerant that it cannot exist in the free world, it becomes a threat and it loses its status as a religion because its beliefs are too contradictory with individual freedom. Is that the meaning of the McCain direction?
What is America’s Middle East foreign policy with regard to radical Islam? What is America’s policy toward terrorist organizations? What is our policy toward state sponsors of terror? Who are the actors and what is the policy for each?
There is no time for the President or Senate to be on vacation when national security is at stake and foreign policy is incomplete.
Baker Spring at the Heritage Foundation writes:
“When the United States makes treaties with other nations, or when it sends ambassadors abroad, it is practicing foreign policy. The first priority of the United States’ foreign policy is to preserve and strengthen the position of the United States as an independent and sovereign nation. In the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. staked its claim “to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them.” In the United States, the institutions the Constitution created must serve this central purpose, to which all other purposes are subordinate. Given this fact, who is responsible for making foreign policy in the United States?”
As a product of Constitutional advice and consent, the President and Senate share the authority.
“The President must lead on foreign policy, but the American system gives the Senate, and through it the American people, a powerful role in controlling and shaping foreign policy. The President makes foreign policy, but he does not make it by himself. The United States must respect this constitutional system if its foreign policy is to fulfill its first priority of preserving and defending American independence.”