Obama Offers Simple, Direct Prescription for Terrorism
The Editorial Board – The Dallas Morning News
Americans rattled by terrorism abroad and at home looked to President Barack Obama for answers and assurances. On Sunday night, he met their gaze for 13 minutes with simple, direct conviction….
What Obama did not offer was a grand new strategy or previously unspoken policy prescriptions. His specifics straddled gun violence, immigration and refugee policy and overseas terror…. Taken individually, these policy directions make sense, especially with Americans now so focused on security. Are they bold enough as a group?
Obama clearly sought to communicate confidence and calm, and barely a week past San Bernardino, the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, there’s unquestioned value in that.
The Big Hole in Obama’s Islamic State Strategy
David Ignatius – The Washington Post
But there was a mysterious black box in the middle of Obama’s speech. Here’s how he tried to explain it: “The strategy that we are using now — airstrikes, special forces and working with local forces who are fighting to regain control of their own country — that is how we’ll achieve a more sustainable victory.”
What “local forces” is Obama talking about? If he means Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria, yes, they’ve performed admirably. In Kurdish areas. They don’t want to clear and hold the Sunni heartland of the Islamic State, nor should they. If Obama is talking about the Shiite-led Iraqi military, their performance is still just barely adequate, even backed by American air power, and they’re disdained and mistrusted by the Sunnis of Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul. If he’s talking about the Islamist brigades in Syria armed by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, it’s still not entirely clear whether they’re friend or foe.
The disturbing fact is that a strong, reliable, indigenous Sunni ground force doesn’t exist yet in Iraq or Syria. The United States has been trying to fix this problem since the fall of Mosul in June 2014, with very little success.
December 7, 1941: A Date Which Will Live in Infamy
The Editors – New Hampshire Union Leader
The world was already at war, but it was a seemingly peaceful Sunday morning on Oahu as the first wave of Japanese bombers hugged the volcanic island on its way to Pearl Harbor….
A total of 2,403 Americans died, the most on American soil until 2,977 people died on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt told a joint session of Congress on Dec. 8, 1941.
We could use that kind of clarity once again. Radical Islam declared war on America decades ago, but we refuse to acknowledge it.
‘No Drama’ in the Face of Panic
Robert Schlesinger – U.S. News and World Report
The San Bernardino attacks following closely on the heels of those in Paris have stoked the level of alarm in the country – a fact underscored Sunday by a CNN/ORC poll that showed that for the first time a majority of Americans believe that the U.S. should send ground troops to Iraq or Syria to deal with the Islamic State group threat.
The same poll showed that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama’s support of terrorism and 68 percent say that the military has been insufficiently aggressive in attacking the group….
The fact that the president offered a stay-the-course response to the rising national angst should be no surprise, as “no drama” is his thing; but sometimes the moment requires some drama…. The ultimate question for Obama is whether public opinion has already reached a tipping point where merely explaining the four parts of the strategy (keeping hitting them militarily, help our allies, disrupt their terrorist operation and – how this gem of diplomatic bureaucratese got into the speech is beyond me – “establish[ing] a process and timeline to pursue cease-fires and a political resolution to the Syrian war”) is going to settle nerves.
Obama’s Not-So-Peppy Pep Talk
Edward-Isaac Dovere – Politico
People had to look somewhere else for how he’s going to step up the mission against ISIL, his positions on several related pieces of legislation in Congress or how exactly he thinks that a 13-minute summoning of political theater is going to turn around two-and-a-half weeks of dismissing much of the response since the Paris attacks as overreaction and Republican fear-mongering.
“Is that all there is? We need a new President – FAST!” Republican frontrunner Donald Trump tweeted as Obama finished.
Though perhaps no response said more than Hillary Clinton’s, who didn’t issue any, by Twitter or press release, pro forma or detailed, leaving her comments to the anti-terrorism speech she delivered Sunday in Washington hours before Obama walked into the Oval Office.