Obama leads fictional coalition with halfhearted strategy into reluctant battle

President Obama's ISIS strategy consists of offering air support for local ground troops, like  Kurdish Peshmerga fighters on the front line in Khazer, 40 km west of Arbil.

You could sense that Obama had been dragged unwillingly into this new unproclaimed war. Which was reminiscent of Obama’s speech five years ago announcing the surge in Afghanistan. In the very next sentence, he announced a fixed date of withdrawal. Then added, lest anyone miss his lack of enthusiasm, “the nation that I’m most interested in building is our own.”

In his Islamic State speech, President Obama said many of the right things. Most importantly, he finally got the mission right: degrade and destroy the enemy.

This alone will probably get him a bump in the polls, which have dropped to historic lows. But his strategic problem remains: the disconnect between (proclaimed) ends and means.

He’s sending an additional 475 American advisers to Iraq. He says he’s broadening the air campaign, but that is merely an admission that the current campaign was always about more than just protecting U.S. personnel in Irbil and saving Yazidis on mountain tops. It was crucially about providing air support for the local infantry, Kurdish and Iraqi.

The speech’s only news was the promise to expand the air campaign into Syria and (finally) seriously arm the secular opposition. But this creates a major problem for Obama. Just a month ago, he ridiculed the non-jihadist rebels as nothing but a bunch of “doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth.” Now he deputizes as them as our Syrian shock troops. So he seems finally to have found his Syria strategy: F-16s flying air support for pharmacists in tanks.

Not to worry, says the President. We’ll have lots of other help — “a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.” He then proceeded to name not a single member of this stout assembly or offer even an approximate number.

Democrats have a habit of accusing George W. Bush of going it alone in Iraq. According to the Center of Military History of the U.S. Army, Bush had 37 nations with us. They sent more than 25,000 troops. So far, Obama has a coalition of nine: eight NATO members plus Australia. How many of those — or of the much touted Arab coalition behind us — do you think will contribute any troops at all?

And what will this campaign look like? Not Iraq or Afghanistan, the president reassured the nation. The model will be Somalia and Yemen.

READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/09/12/charles-krauthammer-obama-leads-fictional-coalition-with-halfhearted-strategy-into-reluctant-battle/

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