Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Military, National Security, Politics, Syria, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: A Failed Strategy, Abu Kamal Strike, The Rules of Engagement
There has been a notable kerfuffle in the media after the ISIS attack in Paris. Why are we getting nowhere in our response to ISIS? Why is Obama claiming that ISIS is contained, when it is so obviously clear that they are expanding into other countries? Why when France asked for our help in striking back at ISIS, did he just brush them off? Why did John Kerry make perhaps the worst flub ever committed by a Secretary of State after the Paris attack when he spoke to families and staff at the embassy in Paris, effectively saying that Charlie Hebdo kind of asked for it you know. We have supposedly been “containing” ISIS for months yet accomplishing nothing.
Last week, Byron York reported that a military strike near Abu Kamal, in Syria, destroyed 116 fuel trucks out of nearly 300 massed on the ground. Not the first time we have hit the Islamic State oil trucks, but the first time we have hit so many, according to a coalition spokesman. So there are 300 sitting there, and we could only destroy 116? Apparently the answer is that Obama has been worried about civilian casualties. What if a civilian was driving one of those trucks or standing nearby? General Jack Keane, a retired army four star general, said that Obama’s rules of engagement have hobbled our military to an unprecedented extent.
Such worries are entirely consistent with the entire U.S. war against the Islamic State. “Our air campaign, since it began, has been the most restrictive in terms of rules of engagement that we have ever entered into in the last 25 years,” said Jack Keane, a retired Army four-star general who now chairs the Institute for the Study of War. “This has been largely due to the White House’s insistence that there be zero civilian casualties, at the behest of the president of the United States.”
In Abu Kamal, U.S. planes dropped leaflets before the attack, warning people — Islamic State, non-Islamic State, whoever — to leave before the assault began. After waiting for an hour, the U.S. planes struck.
U.S pilots confirm that the Obama administration blocks 75 percent of Islamic State strikes. “We can’t get clearance even when we have a clear target on front of us.” Pentagon officials said the military is furiously working to prevent civilian casualties.
The New York Post pointed out that ‘the Obama administration just realized cays ago that ISIS is one of the richest organizations in the world — with assets totaling billions.’ Its assets include 1) up to $1 billion seized from Iraqi banks. 2) Some $200 million a year from stolen Iraqi wheat.3) Hundreds of millions extorted from captive populations. 4) tens of millions from selling sex slaves and looted antiquities as well as ransoming foreign hostages. They cover the payroll with just half their oil revenue, so even if their oil business is decimated, they can keep going for years.
Speaking from the White House today, Press Secretary Josh Earnest attempted to reassure reporters that President Obama is taking the threat from ISIS seriously and is gathering as much intelligence on the terrorist army as he can. This comes in the wake of veteran journalist Sharyl Attkisson’s report that her sources tell her that President Obama does not want and will not read intelligence reports on Islamic groups he does not consider to be terrorists, despite they’re being on a U.S. list of designated terrorists. That’s probably anyone connected with his Iran Deal. From The Weekly Standard
Speaking to reporters at the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey, Obama said that, while the Paris attacks might have been a “setback” for his ISIS strategy, they would not change it. When reporters expressed surprise at his continued embrace of an approach that was failing, he lashed out at them for daring to question him. At a time when an American president might have been expected to show some righteous anger at the attackers and those who enabled them, Obama instead directed his fury towards critics at home who worry about jihadist violence against the homeland. It was a shameful spectacle, and a revealing one.
Barack Obama remains committed to a failed strategy against an enemy he has long underestimated in a war he has no plans to win. Nothing has changed. And this time, what’s past truly is prologue.
For Further Reading:
“The Long War Continues:” Stephen F. Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, The Weekly Standard.
“The Islamic War:” Victor Davis Hanson, National Review.
“The Poverty of American Strategy:” Kenneth Allard, Real Clear Defense.
“Obama and the ‘ISIS Recruitment Tool’ Canard:” Andrew McCarthy, PJ Media.
“Obama’s ISIS Paralysis:” Richard A. Epstein, The Hoover Institution.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: General Jack Keane, National Security Strategy, President Barack Obama
Just 10 hours before the Paris attacks, President Obama went on ABC to say that we “have contained” ISIS. As ordinary fact, it wasn’t true, and asked that we should pretend that it was, when Isis has just brought down an airliner two weeks ago, and then there was Paris.
“We’ve gone through these episodes ourselves,” he said on Friday afternoon, explaining how the “heartbreaking” events were resonating with Americans. “Episode?” We had 9/11, and the Boston Marathon, we’ve had lone shooters, but we haven’t had “episodes” when a soccer stadium was bombed, a concert venue occupied and shot up, and three gathering places shot up — simultaneously.
Only a year ago, the president had promised to destroy ISIS. But that was then and this is now.
Now. Obama said in a press conference that “What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning or whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect the people in the region who are getting killed and to protect our allies and people like France,” Obama said. “I’m too busy for that.”
February 6, 2015, President Obama’s National Security Strategy as outlined by National Security Advisor Susan Rice: “Strong and Sustainable American Leadership. Just what has been completely absent.
The President seemed far more interested in fighting with Republicans than with Islamic terrorists. ISIS arose when Obama prematurely pulled the troops out of Iraq, failed to get an agreement on a sustaining force, and has been so consumed with his dreadful Iran Deal, that he has antagonized our other partners in the region like Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Iran, of course, is not interested in his “deal,” they are interested in building nuclear weapons to attack Israel and the United States, and everybody seems to know that but the President and John Kerry. Obama has signed the Deal. Iran has not. Their Parliament has issued 9 ‘conditions’. They will stall around until they get their money, then they will back out entirely, citing unmet conditions, or some other excuse.
Obama has said that he believes that Iran would never use a nuclear weapon. Why, nobody knows. ISIS has said that they already have many of their fighters in the United States. There have been reports of ISIS training camps just a few miles south of the border in Mexico. The Border Patrol has reported a number of times, finding prayer rugs left just south of the border.
We know that ISIS smuggled terrorists into Paris with the hordes of ‘refugees’ who are only partly Syrian, but from Afghanstan, Somalia, and states all around the Mediterannean and from Africa, even Russia. Obama was offended at over 20 governors’ statements that they would not accept Syrian refugees — calling it un-American.
Mr. Obama was especially harsh on those, like Jeb Bush and Ted Cruz, who say Christian refugees should be a priority. “When some of those folks themselves come from families who benefitted from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion.”
… Christians are under particular threat from Islamic State. If they aren’t killed for jihadist sport, they must convert to Islam or die. Their daughters are raped and forced into Muslim marriages. Their churches are blown up. The U.S. would have been right to accept and save more Jews from Nazi genocide in the 1930s and 1940s. Syrian Christians are no different today.
General Jack Keane, at the Wall Street Journal today, said that Obama’s frame of reference is always the large brigade forces of 150,000 troops or more — but nobody is suggesting that. Mr. Obama speaks of “strategic patience” and suggests that this will be a multi-year challenge. But it is not. We have been there for 15 months, and accomplished nothing, really. We need more advisers, a much better air campaign, and Obama must stop the severe restrictions on target selection. ISIS has the same territory, but they have included 9 other countries.
Obama managed to kill twice as many American troops in Afghanistan as were killed under Bush — with too-tight control over the rules of engagement. He is doing the same thing in Iraq with rules of engagement and tight control of target selection.
As the President has said, he is not interested in pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning. Michael Ledeen responded — “so he wants us to lose?”
- “What ISIS Really Wants” by Graeme Wood, The Atlantic
- “The jihadis’ master plan to break us” by Amir Taheri, The New York Post
- “A Lesson in Hate” by David Von Drehle, Smithsonian
- “Obama’s ‘patience” merely gave ISIS time to grow” Ralph Peters, New York Post
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Education, Energy, Global Warming, Immigration, Islam, Junk Science, National Security, Politics, Terrorism | Tags: ISIS, Paris, Peoples Climate March
President Obama is slowly working up towards saying something more or less serious about ISIS. A few hours before the attack in Paris, Obama announced that ISIS was now “contained” and they were not “gaining strength,”which was supposed to reassure everyone. A little stronger than the dismissive “Jayvee team” a while back. But when it gets serious, he hauls out the grand terminology which has been so helpful for him. This was “an attack, not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share.” But that’s the problem. Humanity does not share universal values at all. Mark Steyn put it well yesterday:
But that’s not true, is it? He’s right that it’s an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world – an attack on one portion of “humanity” by those who claim to speak for another portion of “humanity”. And these are not “universal values” but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta “universal” when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those “universal values” are utterly alien to large parts of the map today.
And then Europe decided to invite millions of Muslims to settle in their countries.
Well, not to worry, the big Climate Conference in Paris will go on as scheduled, at the end of the month. The world will still be saved.
Organizers of a march to press for climate action planned for Paris on Nov. 29, the eve of the summit, said they would meet on Monday “to discuss ways forward”, said Alice Jay, director of the citizens’ campaign group Avaaz and one of the organizers. Organizers have been hoping to imitate a “People’s Climate March” in New York last year that attracted hundreds of thousands of people, the largest protest against global warming in history.
That’s the ticket, a march.
More Syrian refugees arrived in New Orleans almost two weeks ago eliciting a warning from the House Homeland Security Committee about the lack of current intelligence regarding the refugees who are in the U.S. and those who will arrive in the future.
The Obama administration is looking to increase the number of Syrian refugees who may be admitted into the U.S. as well as speed up the process. The administration plans to do this, Reuters reports, by opening new screening outposts in Iraq and Lebanon. As of now, the administration promised to accept as many as 100,000 refugees each year by the end of 2017. The present annual cap is at 70,000.
ISIS told us earlier that there would be jihadists in the flow of “Syrian refugees” to Europe. They have also said that jihadists have been inserted into America. We are stuck, however, with an administration that will not talk straight about the problem, or act straight. All is pretense. We cannot utter the words ‘Islamic terrorism’ for fear of ‘offending,’ and then we wonder why the kids on campus blather on about “safe spaces.” We claim that global warming is a more dramatic security threat than ISIS or al Qaeda. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said “if you go up to anybody in the military who’s been paying attention,” they would say climate change is a major national security threat. Really?
So there you go. Over the last century, the globe has warmed almost a degree C. The only worrisome warming exists exclusively in the computer programs of the IPCC with which they have tried to predict the future — an impossibility. The Paris climate pact will reduce the temperature increase by the end of the century by a whopping 0.05° C.
- “Waging the War on ‘Terror,” Vichy-style” Victor Davis Hanson
- “War is Interested in You” Noah Rothman
- “How France Became an Inviting Target of the Jihad” Andrew C. McCarthy
- “Syria refugee crisis: U.S. opens centres to speed vetting” CBC, Canada
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Crime, Democrat Corruption, Freedom, History, Islam, Law, Media Bias, Progressivism, Terrorism, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Progressives, The History of Benghazi, The Suck-Up Media
The WordPress wayback machine reminded me of three posts about Benghazi: From December 19, 2012 concerning the Accountability Review Board study of the Benghazi affair. “The Report on Benghazi Came In, All Over, Nothing to See Here, Just Move Along”
May 8, 2012: “The Benghazi Hearings. It Matters a Lot”
May 18, 2013: Spin, Spin, Spin
Not just a reminder of how long Congress has been trying to find out why four Americans were killed in Benghazi, but why the administration lied to the American people about it, and why they have tried so hard to cover up. “Most transparent administration in history” indeed!
Perhaps you have noticed that the Republicans in Congress are arguing about their goals and what they can accomplish in the face of an administration that is firmly set against their accomplishing anything. This is portrayed by the media as ‘chaos’ and ‘weakness’ and ‘disorganization’ but it is not any such thing. It’s the way things are supposed to work.
When the Founders were first setting up a new, independent, country they were determined to set us free from an over-controlling government. They sought power, not for themselves, but for the American people. All kinds of battles have been fought over the centuries by people trying to win some privilege from their government. The Founders skipped all that and gave the government to the people.
That was and remains the most daring act in the history of government, and it makes all the difference. They did everything they could think of to slow government down, to provide for fighting and disagreement over what laws to pass. We are supposed to argue and fight, and discuss and eventually reach a satisfactory compromise.
Progressives, the certified smart people, have never really understood that. They basically believe that they should be running things, that the American people are stupid or they would be supporting the right of Progressives to rule. That’s why they march in lockstep, use the same words to describe their ideas, promise to give the people extravagant gifts like free college tuition, free healthcare (that’s working out well), equality for all, and let the rich pay for everything. Trouble is that all the billions of the billionaires is not enough. Or as Margaret Thatcher famously remarked “Sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.”
That’s why Progressives hate free speech, want to confiscate your guns, nationalize education, eliminate state’s rights, and eliminate the Republican Party which has the gall to oppose their ideas. That’s why they can’t win elections without vote fraud, why they import illegal aliens to skew population numbers, register them to vote, convince minorities that voter ID is a Republican trick to keep them from voting. And now, why they want to release large numbers of criminals from prison. It’s the Fox Butterfield Fallacy.
Progressives do not play fair, though they talk about “fairness” a lot. They are zealots on a grand mission, they are going to legislate social justice and social equality. They believe that if they can accumulate enough money and enough power, they can make the glorious future work. That it has been tried many times before and failed doesn’t phase them, for when they do it it will be different. I don’t think your ordinary run-of-the-mill Democrats are actually aware of all that. They know that the Democrat Party cares about them, and Republicans are mean, which is presently proved by their partisan attack on Hillary.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Crime, Democrat Corruption, Intelligence, Islam, Law, Media Bias, National Security, Politics, Terrorism | Tags: Ambassador Chris Stephens, The Benghazi Cover-Up, The Hillary Hearings
Democrats are crowing today, apparently because Hillary escaped the inquisition from the “vast right-wing conspiracy” without any major gaffes or self-indictment. She’s off the hook, we’re back in the game? But Hillary’s testimony requires a little more thought than the lap-dog media is accustomed to giving to much of anything. It is perhaps too soon to be crowing.
Smoking gun? The presence of a server in her home, the attempts to hide it, to prevent anyone seeing any email at all, speak volumes. In the absence of recorded or filmed conversations, emails are the most solid evidence we can have. Why was she not conducting business on State Department security approved computers and devices? Federal law requires official communications to be preserved. The object is a clean and transparent government responsive to the citizens they serve. At one point Barack Obama promised the most transparent administration in history—but that was then and this is now.
We do have a problem with the federal bureaucracy. Individuals of varied degrees of competency and experience are appointed by the President and approved by Congress to head one of the departments of the administration, which means they are walking into an organization that is humming along in some fashion, and take over. Be in charge, direct its operations, and be responsible for its actions.
The State Department has its own peculiarities. We do have Ambassadors in most countries, but apparently the boss is supposed to spend their time visiting lots of countries, particularly the more difficult ones and make progress in some fashion. The culture of the State Department emphasizes diplomacy (which seems to be defined as “keep talking”) above anything else. State has long been accused of being weak on security — going back to when they had the Soviets build their new embassy in Moscow, and the KGB built listening devices right into the walls of every room. So it is indeed possible that when Hillary got her instructions on how the department works, security was not emphasized. But—as we are constantly reminded, she was FLOTUS, and one of the two senators from New York (safe Democrat seat) and in the White House and in the Senate, security is a constant concern. That she was unaware of any need for careful security is beyond belief. And why did she have her own private server in her home anyway?
But here is Hillary’s problem. She was Secretary of State, not just a title to advance one’s career, but the executive officer of a large organization, in charge. The successes or failures of the department are her responsibility, and go to her credit or her dismissal in disgrace.
And there’s the rub. The entire investigation into Benghazi is not, as the lapdog press claims, a political attack on Hillary. Our Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens; his Information Officer Sean Smith; and two brave CIA contractors, former Seals, who were trying to save the Americans under attack were all killed by the attacking jihadists. Ambassador Stevens had written 600 requests for more security. In the hearing, Clinton was asked about an email from Stevens written in early September.
Clinton claimed to believe that Chris Stevens was joking when he asked about security at the Benghazi compound. It was certainly the hearing’s most bizarre moment: “Well, Congresswoman, one of the great attributes that Chris Stevens had was a really good sense of humor and I just see him smiling as he’s typing this because it’s clearly in response to the e-mail down below talking about picking up a few ‘fire sale items from the Brits’,” she told Brooks.
The “fire sale items” were barricades left behind by the British, who were leaving Benghazi because it was unsafe.
Clinton claimed that she never saw Stevens’ requests for more security as such things were passed on to the “security professionals.” Excuse me. As head of the department, it is her job to know about such things and if subordinates did not inform her, they should be promptly fired.
Contrary to her claims of having done “everything’ possible, the gentle manner of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland was disarming. He forced Clinton to admit that she decided not to send the FES (Foreign Emergency Support) team to rescue the Americans in Benghazi.
The night of the attack, September 11, 2012, Hillary knew the compound was under attack, knew that the two CIA contractors were pinned down under attack and calling for backup and help. She brushed that off as something for “the security professionals”and went home and went to bed.
She emailed Chelsea that night and told her that the ambassador was under terrorist attack, but by the next morning, the attack was the spontaneous result of a poorly-made video criticizing Islam. When the bodies were brought home, Hillary told the parents that they would make the video-maker pay for his crime. She had called the prime minister of Egypt on September 12, to tell him that the video was not responsible. Susan Rice went on the rounds of the Sunday shows to blame an ugly video that criticized the Prophet.
To be very clear, the administration lied to the shocked American people, lied to the victim’s parents, but knew from the very first that it was an attack by approximately 100 –150 supporters of Ansar al Sharia — al Qaeda affiliates. The president was campaigning for reelection, claiming that al Qaeda was dead and General Motors was alive. (He’d taken care of the terrorists, and revived the economy)
The story about Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty is still not clear. The account in Wikipedia does not jibe with what I remember hearing at the time. The backup that they requested was ready to embark, and was told to stand down. The general who prepared to rescue them was subsequently removed, but who did or said what is still a mystery to perhaps be discovered by more Freedom of Information requests. They have been filed constantly ever since 2012.
The reason it has dragged on so long is the refusal of the State Department to provide the emails that have begun to clarify what actually happened and why. Can’t find them. Must be lost. Haven’t found any yet. Then a few trickle out. A great flood of several thousand emails from Ambassador Stevens was delivered just two days before the hearings. That’s how the game is played in our nation’s capitol.
—Hillary was forced to make several damning revelations during hours of sworn testimony. Here are nine of them.
—The hearing was about politics, Hillary’s politics.. How her politics trumped competence in office.
—There were 8 major warnings before the Benghazi terror attacks.
—“She Knew All Along” from the Wall Street Journal.
— “Still Waiting for the Truth,” The Weekly Standard
—Obama administration officials, with the awareness of the Sec. of State, were involved in violating a ban on arming Syrian rebels. The news media is aiding them in covering up the Benghazi to Syria arms transfers.
— “Hillary Owns the War in Libya (And Its Horrible Aftermath)
Don’t forget, Hillary is an old hand at this kind of thing, lots of hearings with tough questions over the years.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Foreign Policy, History, Intelligence, Iran, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Progressives, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Concern for Proportionality, Misconceptions, Not Unemployment
In his speech to the State Department’s Climate and Clean Energy Investment Forum yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry not only exposed the administration’s disastrous misconceptions about the climate — there has been no warming for 18 years and 9 months — but the “extremism,” as the administration insists on calling it, of ISIS and al-Qaeda. President Obama said once something about the Iranian rulers being people just like us, who care about our families and our people. They are not. Kerry said:
The other being the rise of radical extremism, sectarianism, and the failure of states simultaneously surrounding it, and vast populations of young people needing jobs instead of mind-bending theories of false assumptions about Islam and other things. Both are gigantic challenges.
Secretary Kerry is also wrong about the rise of “radical extremism.” It is very clearly Islamic radical fanaticism. Its proponents are not poor young men needing jobs, but for the most part middle class, educated, and their “extremism” is religious in nature. They believe that the current state of the Middle East is a result of Allah turning away from his people because they have not adhered closely enough to his rules. The Sunnis long for a return to the seventh century and the era of the prophet, and they believe they must purify Islamic lands by removing those who do not submit. The Shias long for the return of the Mahdi.
In the days following the death of the Prophet, the Armies of Islam swept across the lands surrounding the Mediterranean conquering everything in their path. Islamic scholars knew mathematics and astronomy, and the people of the West were barbarians. Islam never had a Reformation nor an Enlightenment.
We’re not going to get very far if we insist on believing that they just need jobs and opportunity. Their calls for Death to America and Death to Israel are quite serious. ISIS televised executions of Christians and others who do not submit and adopt Islam are meant to show the world just how serious they are. Obama has said that he believes that the Iranians would never actually use a nuclear weapon — a statement that demonstrates all too clearly the depth of his misunderstandings.
Looking back at the history of crisis and wars, misunderstanding the nature of the enemy has always been a forerunner of disaster.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Bureaucracy, Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Iran, Islam, National Security, Syria | Tags: No Experts, President Obama, Syria
Eliot Cohen reports that the president has no interest in hearing strategic recommendations.
Criticize the Administration’s Syria policy without providing alternative recommendations, and the President will dismiss you for mere carping. Argue, say, for a no-fly zone, however, and you will be dismissed for lacking the information and advice that only the President can have. Either way, in his view, you are a dummy, or, as he so artfully said of his previous Secretary of State, a peddler of “mumbo jumbo.”
This pervasive contempt for the views of others is one of the President’s greatest weaknesses and least attractive traits. Inevitably, it percolates throughout his Administration and prevails in particular at the White House. Yet it seems not to deter those on the outside—apolitical experts, some Democrats, and not a few veterans of Republican Administrations—from attempting, in all sincerity, to devise and argue for alternative approaches.Not only are their efforts pointless—if Obama is his own strategist, why should he listen to you, foolish or wicked veterans of the Bush Administration?—they are misguided. One can only judge a policy on its implementation, and although a no-fly zone conceived by a tough-minded Commander in Chief and implemented by Bob Gates might be just the thing, a no-fly zone put into place by the President who brought you vanishing red lines, a botched withdrawal from Iraq, the reset with Russia that wasn’t, repeated groveling apologies for the inevitable accidents of war, and much else, could be a debacle.
Marc Thiessen writing in the Washington Post quoted Tommy Vietor as explaining why his boss has skipped more than half his daily intelligence meetings since taking office – including every day in the week leading up to the attacks on our diplomatic facilities in Egypt and Libya: Obama, they say, doesn’t need briefers because he is just so much smarter than everyone else. As Vietor put it to me in an email, “Unlike your former boss [President Bush], he has it delivered to his residence in the morning and not briefed to him.”
The White House takes pride in the fact that Obama’s PDB is “not briefed to him” – because, they say, he is “among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet.” That hubris brings to mind this revealing quote from a September 2008 New York Times profile of Obama:
“I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Mr. Obama told Patrick Gaspard, his political director, at the start of the 2008 campaign, “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to think I’m a better political director than my political director.”
Another problem of the Information Age: What you say can come back to haunt you forever, and often YouTube is there to prove that you did, indeed, say it.
A second piece from the American Interest continues from Eliot Cohen’s piece and points out a similar article in Politico confirming the president’s unwillingness to listen to anyone on the issue of Syria, including those in his administration. Here’s the essential paragraph:
Sources familiar with administration deliberations said that Obama’s West Wing inner circle serves as a brick wall against dissenting views. The president’s most senior advisers — including National Security Adviser Susan Rice and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough — reflect the president’s wariness of escalated U.S. action related to Syria or Russia and, officials fear, fail to push Obama to question his own deeply rooted assumptions. “Susan and Denis channel him,” says a former administration official who has witnessed the dynamic.
The attitude has alienated Russia experts in the Administration:
Obama’s refusal to take firmer action against Moscow has increasingly isolated several of his administration’s Russia specialists, who almost uniformly take a harder line toward Putin than does the president himself. They include Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs; Celeste Wallander, the National Security Council’s senior director for Russia and Eurasia; and Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. Farkas’ recent announcement that she will exit the Obama administration this fall raised eyebrows among officials aware of her frustration that Obama hasn’t responded more forcefully to Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his support for pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east. (Farkas has told friends that she is not resigning over policy disputes.)
Eliot Cohen’s important article is here.
Obama has decided that we will stay in Afghanistan. Too bad he didn’t give such consideration to the precipitous withdrawal from Iraq.