National Security

'Inherent Resolve' to Appear Hawkish

If only the operation name for countering ISIL signified strategy instead of political calculation.

Oct. 20, 2014

Political correctness has spread to the very naming of military operations. Despite objections from the Pentagon about the name, which one officer called “kind of bleh,” the administration chose a name for our military excursion against the Islamic State based on the effort to offend as few of our so-called coalition partners as possible. Thus, we’re embarked on “Operation Inherent Resolve.”

Barack Obama didn’t even have a strategy for countering ISIL until last month, and now he wants us to believe his plan is the essence of Inherent Resolve? In fact, resolve seems to be lacking in everyone involved except ISIL itself. And a nation doesn’t usually name its military operations as a compliment to its foe.

Many coalition nations fear getting involved in the Syrian civil war between forces allied with and opposed to Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad. But there’s a calculation involved. Since ISIL forces are generally seen as opposed to Assad, their defeat makes Assad stronger and by extension increases Russia’s influence in the region. On the other hand, few want a maniacal Islamic caliphate gaining power in the Middle East, either. The situation leaves many nations facing what they might consider a Faustian bargain. They already distrust the United States, given Obama’s erratic foreign policy and propensity to assume that nations will just let America use what it needs in the fight, whether domestically popular in those countries or not.

Nearly two dozen of these partners sent their best and brightest military minds to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for a meeting with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. Obama tried to reassure them of our resolve but also warned, “There are going to be periods of progress and setbacks.” Clearly, even the best military strategy goes out the window as soon as the first shots are fired. But Obama’s setbacks are too often self-inflicted.

While we have made an effort to loosen ISIL’s grip on the Syrian border city of Kobani through ramped up airstrikes last week, the operational tempo of the newly christened Inherent Resolve falls far short of other recent operations in that region of the world. And since Obama has ruled out “boots on the ground” for purely political reasons, it’s clear he’s hoping other nations will do the dirty work in return for some unspecified reward down the road. That may be desirable – if it works. But it’s a big “if.”

What “inherent resolve” did Obama show in prematurely pulling our troops out of Iraq? His history of governing by poll numbers instead of a broad strategic plan against the entire scope of Islamic terror – whether al-Qaida, ISIL or the bevy of other splinter groups in the Islamic Crescent – shows why Inherent Resolve isn’t a philosophy. It’s just an empty name from an empty suit.

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