National Security

Commander in Chief 'Not Interested' in 'Winning'

What might become the defining statement of his atrocious presidency.

Nate Jackson · Nov. 17, 2015

Just when you thought you’ve heard it all… Hours before Islamic State jihadis killed 129 people in Paris Friday, Barack Obama boasted that his strategy had “contained” the group formerly known as the JV team. Clearly, that self-praise was incredibly ill-timed. Undeterred, at a press conference Monday, he proceeded to utter what might become the defining statement of his atrocious presidency: “What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of American leadership or America winning.”

Let that sink in for a minute. The president of the United States of America — the commander in chief of our Armed Forces — just said he isn’t interested in leading or winning. If Franklin Roosevelt had uttered those words, we’d all be speaking German or Japanese.

Obama meant his remarks as a rebuttal to a certain GOP presidential candidate who talks a lot about “winning.” Obama dismissed “whatever other slogans they come up with that has no relationship to what is actually going to work to protect the American people and to protect the people in the region who are getting killed and to protect our allies and people like France.” He concluded, “I’m too busy for that.”

Maybe if the commander in chief is too busy (golfing?) to worry about such inconsequential things as leadership and winning, he should retire now instead of making us suffer through another 14 months of his contemptible reign.

Instead, he slammed critics: “Some of them seem to think that if I were just more bellicose in expressing what we’re doing, that that would make a difference — because that seems to be the only thing that they’re doing, is talking as if they’re tough.”

Well, that sure beats telling the world you’re not interested in leadership or winning. Speaking softly only works if you carry a big stick — which is exactly what Republicans propose we do.

Unfortunately, Obama said a lot more. He explained his “contained” claim, saying, “[W]hen I said that we are containing [the Islamic State’s] spread in Iraq and Syria, in fact, they control less territory than they did last year. And the more we shrink that territory, the less they can pretend that they are somehow a functioning state and the more it becomes apparent that they are simply a network of killers who are brutalizing local populations.”

Small comfort to the “local population” in Paris some 2,500 miles from Islamic State territory.

Of the massive death toll in France, Obama said, “The terrible events in Paris were obviously a terrible and sickening setback.” A “setback”? Is he kidding?

But don’t worry; he’s got this. Doubling down is the answer. “So there will be an intensification of the strategy that we put forward,” he said, “but the strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that ultimately is going to work. But as I said from the start, it’s going to take time.”

That would be because he’s not all that interested in leadership or winning. So we’re left to conclude that he means it’s going to take time until the next Republican president is elected.

Secretary of State John Kerry likewise bloviated, “We will defeat [the Islamic State] and all who share their despicable ideology, and we are on the course to do so. … That’s our responsibility, that’s our duty, and we will do our duty, side-by-side. And we will prevail.” Forgive us if that doesn’t inspire any more confidence than the pontification of his boss.

Anyone who would criticize Obama’s strategy, however, has no standing in his book. “If folks want to pop off and have opinions about what they think they would do, present a specific plan.”

His plan is, in part, to follow Vladimir Putin’s lead and just keep blaming Bush for his Middle East meltdown.

Even some Democrats are expressing frustration with Obama’s (lack of a) plan. “I have never been more concerned,” said Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “ISIL is not contained. ISIL is expanding. … [I]t is their intent to attack this country.”

In a maddening example of Obama’s moral equivalence, he lectured, “[T]o the degree that anyone would equate the terrible actions that took place in Paris with the views of Islam, those kinds of stereotypes are counterproductive. They’re wrong. They will lead, I think, to greater recruitment into terrorist organizations over time if this becomes somehow defined as a Muslim problem as opposed to a terrorist problem.”

So we can’t link the Islamic State to Islam, but he thinks Christians today bear responsibility for the Crusades. Figure that one out.

In closing, it’s notable that Obama opened his remarks with a nod to the upcoming climate conference in Paris — before he bothered mentioning terrorism. That’s quite revealing in terms of his priorities.

Addendum: Even The Washington Post hammered “Obama’s false choice against the Islamic State” — the idea that it’s either his “underpowered” strategy or a full invasion of Syria. Obama is a master of such false choices.

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