The PJ Tatler

Obama Can't Make Up His Mind Whether He Wants to 'Contain' ISIS or 'Eliminate' Them

President Obama can’t make up his mind about what we should be doing with Islamic State.

Think of all the different policies he has proposed — all of which have failed spectacularly. First, we were going to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Then, in an interview broadcast on Friday just hours before the Paris attacks, he said “our goal has been first to contain” ISIS, which is a far cry from “degrade and destroy.” We haven’t contained them anyway.

Now, at a press conference in Turkey where the president is attending a meeting of the G-20, Obama said he wants to “eliminate” Islamic State.

Make up your mind already, Barry.


U.S. President Barack Obama vowed on Sunday to step up efforts to eliminate Islamic State in Syria and prevent it from carrying out attacks like those in Paris, while European leaders urged Russia to focus its military efforts on the radical Islamists.

Speaking at a G20 leaders summit in Turkey, Obama described the killings in Paris claimed by Islamic State as an attack on the civilized world and said the United States would work with France to hunt down those responsible.

The two-day summit brings Obama and fellow world leaders just 500 km (310 miles) from Syria, where a 4-1/2-year conflict has transformed Islamic State into a global security threat and spawned Europe’s largest migration flows since World War Two.

“The skies have been darkened by the horrific attacks that took place in Paris just a day and a half ago,” Obama said after meeting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

“We will redouble our efforts, working with other members of the coalition, to bring about a peaceful transition in Syria and to eliminate Daesh as a force that can create so much pain and suffering for people in Paris, in Ankara, and in other parts of the globe,” he added, using an alternative name for Islamic State.

Obama and his Western allies now face the question of how the West should respond after Islamic State again demonstrated it posed a threat far beyond its strongholds in Syria and Iraq.

Washington already expects France to retaliate by taking on a larger role in the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing campaign against Islamic State (ISIL).

“We’re confident that in the coming days and weeks, working with the French, we will be able intensify our strikes against ISIL in both Syria and Iraq to make clear there is no safe haven for these terrorists,” U.S. Deputy National security adviser Ben Rhodes said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press”.

But European Council President Donald Tusk said Russia too should focus its military operations on Islamic State, rather than on the Syrian opposition battling President Bashar al-Assad, urging cooperation between Washington and Moscow.

“It should be our common aim to coordinate our actions against Daesh and for sure the cooperation between the United States and Russia is a crucial one,” he said.

“Make clear there is no safe haven…”? Sorry, Benji, but you may not have noticed that Islamic State hides in plain sight using civilians as cover. There are so many safe havens for ISIS that they probably have a hard time choosing which civilian to use as a human shield. That makes your “no safe haven” strategy about as effective as the idea your boss had to train “moderate” Syrian rebels.

But the problem with our Syria policy starts and ends with the president. In short, we don’t have one. What we have is a haphazard, seat-of- the-pants, make-it-up-as-we-go-along strategy that is liable to change at the drop of a hat.

Obama is marking time, praying that Syria doesn’t blow up into a full-scale Middle East war before he leaves office. It may not sound like much of a strategy. But then, Obama is not much of a president.