Republicans have made ceaseless attacks against the Obama Administration’s Middle East policies, particularly concerning the growing threat of ISIS. They declare weakness, inaction, stupidity, and a lack of effort, among other unwarranted claims. Meanwhile, they offer their own, highly specific tactics such as “targeting the bad guys” and “utterly destroying ISIS.”
President Obama quietly and flawlessly dismantled all these foolish accusations and proposals during an interview with Steve Inskeep of NPR.
Inskeep brought up the media’s coverage of criticism regarding Obama’s approach to terrorism, “[referring] to what Americans are seeing in the American media…[is] the media are being played in a sense here?”
Obama responded by noting that “one of the interesting things that you've seen evolve over the last several weeks, including in the debates that are taking place between the Republican candidates, is that those who are critics of our administration response, or the military, the intelligence response that we are currently mounting, when you ask them, well, what would you do instead, they don't have an answer.”
Case in Point
These non-answers are exemplified better than ever in Ted Cruz. Cruz was one of the harshest critics of Obama’s policies during last week’s Republican debate, declaring that unlike Obama, he would “hunt down and kill the terrorists. We will utterly destroy ISIS. We will stop the terrorist attacks before they occur because we will not be prisoners to political correctness. Rather, we will speak the truth.”
When asked what this entailed, Cruz went into “carpet bombing” as well as “using overwhelming air power to utterly and completely destroy ISIS.” Carpet bombing is complete annihilation of a region, but Cruz backtracked when asked if he would kill civilians, saying that he would only target “where ISIS is, not the city, but the location of the troops.” So, inside the city.
To target ISIS troops specifically, you would need targeted air strikes. Which is exactly what Obama has been doing for the last year.
Obama called out Cruz (and other Republicans) for this tough talk that means nothing. “Well, when you listen to them, though, and you ask, well, what exactly are you talking about? ‘Well, we are going to bomb more.’ Well, who is it you are going to bomb? Where is it that you are going to bomb? When you talk about something like carpet-bombing, what do you mean?”
It’s exactly these questions Cruz would never be able to specifically answer, because there is no answer that differs from the methods Obama is using.
Obama even acknowledged that these purportedly effective and harsh policies of Republicans resonate with people because the Republicans don’t actually have to follow through on the nonsense they spew: “And, you know, unfortunately many of these critics can get away with just suggesting that bombing more, or being less discriminant in how we approach that, would make a difference.”
Obama’s measured, careful response to ISIS based on intelligence from his commanders, while carefully balancing the complex religious and ethnic differences of ground troops, is what will systematically destroy ISIS, rather than severe and useless tactics such as bombing entire cities.
As Obama succinctly put it, most Republicans simply “talk about being louder or sounding tougher in the process.” But talk is both not enough, and dangerous in the ideas it perpetuates. Defeating this enormous terrorist threat will take patience, diligence, and equanimity. Hot heads such as Trump or Cruz will ultimately only make matters worse.
Banner Image Credit: Youtube, NPR