April 14, 2024
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April 14, 2024
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The Man Without a Plan

It now looks like the Al Qaeda threat to the world has been supplanted by an entity that poses greater peril than Osama Bin Laden’s gang did, if not more so. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS as it is commonly known, has been wreaking havoc and gaining a degree of notoriety that has captured the attention of the world.

Comprised of Sunni militants who proudly wear their Islamist extremism on their sleeves, ISIS is directly responsible for massacring thousands of innocent civilians across Syria and Iraq. They are already at Israel’s Syrian border, and are trying to infiltrate Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The brutal decapitation of James Foley proved without a shadow of a doubt what ISIS is capable of.

Knowing all this makes President Obama’s recent comments about ISIS all the more perplexing. When asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd at a press briefing about ISIS, the President stated, “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.”

The President’s admission that the U.S. does not yet have a strategy to address what is perhaps the greatest global terrorist threat today sent shockwaves through Washington. It seemed inconceivable that our Commander-in-Chief did not have a plan on how to curb the violent tendencies of ISIS.

The White House damage control operation commenced almost immediately, as they desperately attempted to offer some clarity to the President’s comments. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Obama had not detailed “a specific plan for military action in Syria” because “the Pentagon is still developing that plan and he is still reviewing it.” Earnest conceded that while the President has “no plans right now” for ISIS in Syria, he does have a “comprehensive plan” for ISIS in Iraq, but failed to reconcile President Obama’s comment with that of one of his most trusted aides in the foreign policy arena.

Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes recently intimated that the U.S. in fact does has a strategy to deal with ISIS, when he discussed “[t]he strategy we are already undertaking” and “our strategy.” In what was perceived as a clear message to ISIS, Rhodes said, “We’ve made very clear time and again that if you come after Americans, we’re going to come after you wherever you are.”

We somehow went from having a plan of action, as described by the Deputy National Security Advisor, to having not a clue on how to proceed, as indicated by the President.

Critics of President Obama quickly jumped into the fray. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the President “needs to develop a regional strategy” to defeat ISIS. Noting that he believed that Congress would support a strategic plan to combat the threat posed by ISIS, McConnell said that, “it is time for President Obama to exercise some leadership in launching a response.”

Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham took to the op-ed page of The New York Times to call for a “greater sense of urgency” from the Obama Administration in dealing with ISIS. Acknowledging that the President “wants to move deliberately and consult with allies and Congress as he considers what to do about ISIS,” Senators McCain and Graham said that, “the threat ISIS poses only grows over time.” “It cannot be contained,” wrote the Senators. “It must be confronted.”

Even some of the President’s Democratic allies in Congress noted how critical it is that the U.S. has a plan to quell the ISIS terrorist threat. “I think we’ve learned on thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein. “Maybe in this instance, too cautious.” Noting the grave danger posed by ISIS, Feinstein said, “[t]his is a vicious, vicious movement, and it has to be confronted.”

I understand that the President may not want to tip his hand at this juncture as to how he plans to put ISIS out of business. Perhaps he really does not have a detailed strategy at this point as to how to best contain ISIS. However, for the President to get up in front of the cameras and tell the world that he has no plan is shocking.

The President could have said something like, “The global danger posed by ISIS is very real and must be dealt with swiftly and strongly. We are currently assessing all of our options and are preparing to eliminate the ISIS terrorist threat once and for all so that we can make the world a safer place for everyone.”

In a recent op-ed in The New York Times, Secretary of State John Kerry noted that ISIS “presents a unifying threat to a broad array of countries” and poses a threat well beyond the (Middle East) region.”

“With a united response led by the U.S. and the broadest possible coalition of nations, the cancer of ISIS will not be allowed to spread to other countries,” said the Secretary of State. “The world can confront this scourge, and ultimately defeat it.”

That may be true, but unless I am mistaken, the U.S. needs a strategy in place before that can possibly happen. The bottom line is that the President needs to have a plan.

N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm. Visit him on the Web at TroodlersTake.blogspot.com, www.PaulReverePR.com, or www.JewishWorldPR.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @troodler

By N. Aaron Troodler, Esq.

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