American Elephants

President Obama Is Agonizing Over What to Do, Again. by The Elephant's Child

Obama watchingPresident Obama is agonizing again. Should he arm Ukraine, even as  Putin pushes ahead? Should he approve an effort to rescue hostages who might be executed? Should he send weapons to the Kurds? But that might anger Iran. He so wants a deal with Iran. What to do about ISIS, now they aren’t just beheading and crucifying, but immolating people? What if they captured an American soldier?

The U.S. has been bombing ISIS since August on the authority granted to Bush, but now Obama has requested that Congress pass an Authorization for the Limited Use of Military Force (ALUMF) that will allow Congress to weigh in without interfering too much in the president’s options. The result is a request that allows the president “to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines to be necessary and appropriate against ISIL or associated persons or forces.” O.K. That should give him the authority to deal with this band of jihadi extremists.

But he wants limitations as well. The authority does not extend to “the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground operations.” What does that mean? You can have battles but only short ones? Engagements but not campaigns? Is this meant to prevent any extensive war that might annoy Iran or the Democrats in Congress? Additionally, the request says the authority will expire in three years. Is this intended, like our departure from Iraq and Afghanistan, to announce in advance precisely when we are leaving?

Obama clearly wants a deal with Iran. He believes that we can turn over the pacifying of the Middle East to Iran, and extract the United States from that region entirely. Let them manage Iraq and Syria and ISIL (he insists on calling the jihadis by that name,( the Islamic State in the Levant, essentially recognizing their statehood). Those little things matter.

Many recognize Iran as the main sponsor of Islamic terrorism in the world, and assume that when they keep shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” — they probably mean what they say. Coupled with their drive to get nuclear weapons, many do not believe that Iran is a viable partner in bringing peace to the Middle East. It is a difference of opinion, but certainly not an unimportant one.

That Democrats are intent on a deal with Iran was noted back at the end of January when Nancy Pelosi said that she was concerned that if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the U.S. Congress in March, it might result in negative ramifications for the ongoing nuclear talks with Iran. “Such a presentation could send the wrong message in terms of giving diplomacy a chance,” she told reporters. That explains that flap, and the Democrats’ effort to be engaged elsewhere on that day.

It is hard to understand what Democrats think we might get from diplomacy with Iran. Google: “Iran + EMP attack,” to get an idea of the concern, and the reason why Republicans want to hear from the Israeli Prime Minister who is also worried about Iran, and very dubious about any diplomatic efforts.

To return to the ALUMF, I suspect that the president wants Congress to “forbid” him from taking any real action against ISIS, so that he can avoid any problems with Iran in his continuing diplomatic efforts. They are going to great lengths to avoid giving offense to Iran, including lifting the sanctions and returning their money, thus enabling Iran to step up their nuclear efforts. Should Iran go nuclear, Saudi Arabia is prepared to go nuclear as well, quickly. Other Middle East countries would follow.

Obama is  not really old enough to remember the Carter years, and the hostage situation, nor the Iranian revolution. And the president is somewhat deficient in the history department as well. I just don’t believe that he grasps the problem of Iran. And I don’t get the idea that he has any national security advisors that he listens to, but rather that he tells them what his policy is.

Obama has strived throughout to avoid doing anything that Bush would have done, without much examination of why certain things were done.

Bernard Lewis once said something to the effect that “we are a country that has some religions, Islam is a religion that has some countries.”

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