It's Alive

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told reporters that ISIS "is beyond anything we have seen ... They marry ideology and a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well funded."

Hagel's realization that it's beyond Obama's ken is understandable. You really can't see much from the 18th hole.

ISIS and the riots in Ferguson are examples of emergent events, which happens when big things suddenly constitute themselves out of a myriad of seemingly harmless little things and become something much larger than the original. It is the result of "a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties".

President Obama's whole approach to the world has been predicated on the idea that you can make deals with enemies of the United States in specific circumstances because each deal can be isolated from the others. Thus, he could engage in a 'prisoner swap' for Bowe Berghdahl or otherwise talk to the Taliban while still remaining in actual combat with them. Likewise it was possible to make a deal with Iran while remaining an ally of Israel.

It is well known for example that Qatar is a supporter of ISIS. "German Development Minister Gerd Mueller accused Qatar on Wednesday of financing Islamic State militants who have seized wide areas of northern Iraq and have posted a video of a captive American journalist being beheaded."

"You have to ask who is arming, who is financing ISIS troops. The keyword there is Qatar - and how do we deal with these people and states politically?" said Mueller, a member of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the center-right Bavarian sister party of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats.

In Obama's world the observation that Qatar was a source of support for ISIS would not be germane. The relationship with Qatar was separable from the problem of ISIS. The "axis of evil" stuff was for limited minds. The president prided himself on being able to straddle all sides of an issue at once as the "only adult in the room". He could take the big view of things and therefore hated the idea of "war" because it was so limiting, implying that one had to take just one side in a quarrel.

Why, with his great mind, Obama figured he could take all sides. Early in his presidency, deputy press secretary Bill Burton boasted that "when you're President of the United States you've got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time".

This is how to ring a motel front desk bell the Barack Obama way.