My initial reaction to President Obama’s speech about the threat of ISIS… or ISIL… or IS… is that it was not a call to all-out war and boogedy-boogedy they’re-coming-here jingoism. For those who complained about him not having a strategy (which was a mis-hear on their part because he was talking about having a strategy to take the issue to Congress, which is like trying to give a bath to a bobcat), he laid out a four-point plan to defeat the threat and hope that they don’t do a whack-a-mole number someplace else, like in Libya or Egypt. And then he went off on what sounded like a pep-talk to the team at half-time when they’re down a couple of touchdowns and really need to hear from the coach that yes, America, you’re the greatest.
The only clunk I heard in the speech was the president trying to reassure us that this tactic of airstrikes and support for the other armies had worked well in Yemen and Somalia. Um, we’re still sending drones to Yemen eleven years after our first attack — which supposedly killed the leaders of al-Qaeda — and still hitting targets in Somalia more that twenty years after Black Hawk Down. So using them as selling points for this battle isn’t exactly a winner.
I am sure there will be bipartisan butt-hurt from Congress because the president isn’t asking their permission. But given their lily-livered approach to taking on bombing in Syria last year and the perfectly cynical view of “go right ahead; we’ll be with you if it works and blame you if it doesn’t,” I can understand why the president isn’t going to wake them up from their naps.
The Republicans will snarl; I’m sure John McCain and Lindsay Graham will grumble and flounce respectively, and Ted Cruz will want to impeach the president because he didn’t address the threat of ISIS coming in through Mexico, but they would have carried on like white trash in a hurricane if he had told us that it’s Wednesday.
One other thought: President Obama promised no American combat troops will be involved. Well, unless all the airstrikes are coming from drones, there have been and will be American combat troops involved in the fight. The fact that they’re not “on the ground” but in the air seems a semantic point at best. And when that first plane and crew is shot down, let’s see how long our combat troops will stay out.