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 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 12-Sep-2014
12-Sep-14 World View -- President George W. Obama pledges to 'degrade, destroy' ISIS

Web Log - September, 2014

12-Sep-14 World View -- President George W. Obama pledges to 'degrade, destroy' ISIS

CIA increases estimate: ISIS has 20,000 to 31,500 fighters

This morning's key headlines from

President George W. Obama presents his ISIS strategy

What's the name of this President? I forget.  (
What's the name of this President? I forget. (

It was very hard to escape the impression, listening to President Obama's speech on Wednesday evening, that he would rather have all his teeth pulled out than have to give that speech, which could have been given by President George W. Bush, if he had had two more terms. President Obama's entire foreign policy has always been to ask what President Bush would do and then do the opposite, but the rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) has forced him in the past few weeks to sound more and more like his predecessor.

His attempts to be the non-Bush were comical. Here's how he struggled to distinguish what he's doing from what Bush did:

"But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order."

So this is not a war -- that's a Bush thing. This is counterterrorism -- that's an Obama thing, and it's different.

Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized this when he was asked in an interview whether we were at war:

"We're engaged in a major counterterrorism operation, and it's going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation. I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy but the fact is that we are engaged in a very significant global effort to curb terrorist activity.

I don't think people need to get into war fever on this. I think they have to view it as a heightened level of counter terrorist activity...but it's not dissimilar to what we've been doing the last few years with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in Yemen and elsewhere."

I try to write about President Obama on as few days as I can get away with, because I criticize him, and then people criticize me for criticizing him. But I just never have the feeling that Obama lives on this planet, or has any idea what's going on on this planet. It's just one bizarre thing after another. I'll come back to the comparisons with Yemen and Somalia below. But we're not at war? Are you kidding me? Wasn't it just last week that Vice President Joe Biden said we'd follow ISIS to "the gates of hell"?

It's a basic principle of Generational Dynamics that even in a dictatorship, major policies and events are determined by masses of people, entire generations of people, and not by politicians. Thus, Hitler was not the cause of WW II. What politicians say or do is irrelevant, except insofar as their actions reflect the attitudes of the people that they represent, and so politicians can neither cause nor prevent the great events of history. The corollary to this principle, which I've discussed many times since President Obama took office in 2009, is that going beyond pure rhetoric and politics, there will be little effective difference between Obama's presidency and President George W. Bush's hypothetical third and fourth terms, if such had taken place.

Indeed, Obama frequently said that the world would change on January 20, 2009, as soon as he was inaugurated as President. His goal was to heal the world with his mere presence -- cure global warming, provide universal health care, close Guantanamo, leave Iraq in peace, bring a two-state solution to Palestinians and Israelis, beat the Taliban in Afghanistan, restore the stock market bubble, and dismantle President Bush's war against terror. Nothing would be beyond his reach. And yet, it would be hard to find any real effective difference with how any of these policies would have unfolded in additional Bush administrations.

President Obama and John Kerry have had one foreign policy debacle after another. Now they're starting on something new, the conflict with ISIS, and they're playing with words. We can hope that this won't be yet another debacle, but this is a very bad omen. White House and CBS News

Obama pledges 'to degrade and ultimately destroy' ISIS

President Obama began his Wednesday night speech with:

"My fellow Americans, tonight I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL."

What can he possibly mean by "destroy"? I can't think of a single example of a terrorist group being "destroyed," and he certainly provided no such examples. Let's make a list of the comparisons that he and Kerry did make in the excerpts quoted above:

One of Obama's big problems is that he keeps making ridiculous promises that he would know can't be kept if he understood what was going on in the world. The worst one was the chemical weapons "red line" in Syria that would trigger an American military response. Syria's genocidal president Bashar al-Assad continues to use chemical weapons to this day, targeting innocent women and children with barrel bombs loaded with explosives, metals, and chlorine gas.

So now Obama has committed to "destroying" ISIS. How the hell is he going to do that?

And here's one more thing from his speech:

"Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven."

What's he talking about? Is he really going to take action against ISIS in Syria, when he refused to take action after Bashar al-Assad killed hundreds of people with Sarin gas?

When Obama was campaigning in 2008, he promised that as soon as took office then the earth would heal and the tides would recede. Obama is still making ridiculous promises. He just can't stop himself. Let's hope this doesn't end up as another debacle. White House

CIA increases estimate: ISIS has 20,000 to 31,500 fighters

The CIA now estimates that the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is made up of anywhere between 20,000 to 31,500 fighters. The CIA previously put the number at 10,000, and is now revising it upward by a factor of 2-3. The Hill

Iran faces a double threat from ISIS

Iran is a Shia Muslim state, but Iran's southeast province, on the border with Pakistan, is Balochistan, which has a Sunni majority population. The rise of the Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria (IS or ISIS) is presenting a serious internal threat to Iran. Just as would-be jihadists from around the world are heading for Syria to train with ISIS, the same is true of would-be jihadists from Balochistan, fueled by a combination of extreme poverty and decades-long resentment by the local Sunni population against the policies of the Shia-dominated central government in Tehran. I've reported several times about Jundullah, a terrorist group that has perpetrated major attacks on Shia mosques and Revolutionary Guard stations in southeastern Iran. Jundullah's successor in Balochistan is Jaysh al-Adl (Army of Justice), and it's feared that ISIS and Jaysh al-Adl will link up with disaffected citizens of Balochistan, and threaten the Tehran government.

That's ISIS's internal threat to Iran. The external threat is to Iran's two closest allies in the region, the governments of Syria and Iraq. In particular, it's feared that the conflict in Iraq will spill over onto Iran's soil, and some unconfirmed reports indicate that's already happened. Jamestown

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 12-Sep-14 World View -- President George W. Obama pledges to 'degrade, destroy' ISIS thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (12-Sep-2014) Permanent Link
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