Tag Archives: air strikes

My view on Obama’s dubious war authority as published in the Palm Beach Post on Sunday, September 28, 2014

You can see the online article here.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/opinion/point-of-view-waging-new-war-under-iraq-authorizat/nhWkN/

Point of View: Waging new war under Iraq authorization a sham

If you want to know why there has been no war authorization from Congress, look to the Democrats and election politics. While President Barack Obama said he wanted congressional participation, he did nothing to gain it. In our system, presidents come to Congress to request a Declaration of War and Congress votes.

Obama did not do that. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could have conducted a vote if Obama had just picked up the phone and requested one. To avoid the Republican-controlled House of Representatives from sending a war authorization bill to the Senate, Reid put the upper chamber in recess, effectively preventing any congressional vote before the election. It is now obvious that Obama was disingenuous when he claimed to want congressional participation.

Informal head counts clearly show that a request for war powers would have passed with overwhelming Republican support. On the other hand, the Democrats are split on the issue. With part of Obama’s political base vehemently opposed to even a clearly defensive war, a vote in support of the president’s action would likely further damage Democratic candidates, especially in those all-critical Senate races.

Rather, the Obama unilateral action relies on improper use of the original Iraq War authorization of more than a decade ago. It is no small irony that the past votes of people like then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and John Kerry are now part of Obama’s rationale — even though they later regretted their votes.

The dubious use of the previous war’s authorization is another abuse of power necessitated for solely political reasons. The Obama approach is neither good warfare nor good governance.

LARRY HORIST, BOCA RATON

Here is my view on OBAMA’S WAR SPEECH (as published in the Florida Sun Sentinel on September 18,2014)

Some say that President Obama’s war (or not war) speech was the best speech of his career. It depends if you are judging on rhetoric, substance or credibility.  I grade him a B for rhetoric, D for substance and F for credibility.

The post mortem talking heads on Fox, CNN and MSNBC all agreed on one thing. This was a speech Obama did not wish to ever give.  No president wants to send American service men and women into harms way, but they rise to that necessity with full commitment when circumstances require.  They tend to lead public opinion by laying out the reasons for war.  In the case of Obama, the rationale came from the people, not from the Oval Office.  His decision seemed more motivated by his sense of political necessity than moral obligation. Obama was again leading from behind.

The President’s highest mark is for “rhetoric.” He lived up to his reputation for being an effective orator.  He sounded strong and sincere, even as he uttered nonsense.  As many pundits pointed out, portions of his speech might have been given by George Bush or Ronald Reagan.

His grade average drops a bit with regard to substance.  It again reflected Obama’s talent for style over substance.  He talked a lot about what America is going to do, but very little about how.  He identified the problem, but was short on solution.  What he said he would not do, “boots on the ground,” was more definitive than what he would do – other than the continuation of an airstrike strategy over more geography.

His greatest problem and lowest grade involves his credibility.  He came to the podium as one of the least admired and least trusted presidents in American history.  Six years of popular campaign-style language unsupported by implementation and consistency has put his general credibility in the negative zone.  He did not improve his score with this speech.

He said he wants congress involved, although he did not say in what role – to give constitutional authority, to give only advice, or to merely be rubber stamp audience to his rhetoric.  His call for congressional partnership is provably disingenuous since he has not called on them for action.  For the first time, Congress may authorize military action without an official request from the President.  Again, he is leading from behind.

His limited strategy, based on the use of non-American military on the all essential ground war, was greeted with skepticism by knowledgeable military and political leaders – and by a majority of Americans.

His assistance that there will be no U.S. “boots on the ground” failed to pass the veracity test since he, in the same breath, announced increased troop deployment.  The fact that our fliers will be dropping bombs on enemies who have the weaponry to shoot them down seems to be war by definition.

More than 1600 armed soldiers are “in harm’s way,” regardless of their alleged non-combat duties.  Despite the parsed words of the President, there will be “boot on the ground.”  Our military will be positioned next to local military personal and subject to attack.  The “no boots on the ground” policy will be revoked the minute American soldier are killed on in the air or on the ground.

Obama’s credibility takes is deepest dip in his proposed reliance on regional forces to cover the ground game.  It is absurd in view of what we already know about their fervor, loyalty and capability.  Only months ago, Obama demeaned them as “former farmers, teachers and pharmacists.”

The war on ISIS, and terrorism in general, cannot be won with airstrikes alone.  Even the president knows that.  To date, Obama has not put together a credible allied force on the ground – it seems more and more likely, he never will.  What then.

Obama is obsessed not to make his efforts seem like a redo of Bush’s war.  He ignores the fact that the Bush’s Iraq war started with a much larger and more involved “coalition of the willing,” the support of the United Nations and an affirmative vote from Congress.  All this runs contrary to Obama’s narrative and his belief that he is a far superior and more successful president than Bush.

Using the surgical targeting in Somalia and Yemen as an example of his ISIS policy was inexplicable in view of the fact that terrorism is rampant and growing to both nations.  Obama’s  selective bombing policy is failing Yemen, and marginally successful because the Somali government has been vigorously fighting terrorists before we got involved.

The President further damaged his own credibility by offering two juxtaposed assessments.  At one point, he argued that ISIS and other terrorist groups pose a national security to the nation.  Later he said they did not pose “an immediate threat.”  This flies in the face of all intelligence reports. He claimed to already have the legal authority but would go to Congress.  That promise has already been reversed.

Obama claimed his actions were nothing like Iraq and Afghanistan when it seems to have all the same characteristics.  He anticipates a multiyear military engagement.  Yet, there is a sense that he wishes to fight this war with one hand restrained.  Virtually every military expert and leader has concurred that we cannot defeat and destroy international terrorism without entering Syria and without adequate “boots on the ground.”  If the local security forces are not adequate, will Obama break his pledge or will he conduct a long lingering stalemate until he leaves office?

Obama sadly revealed that his words are always in campaign mode when he shifted from the crisis at hand to a political commercial for his stewardship on domestic issues.  By his words alone, he would like the American public to believe that we are safer today.  He talked about the economy and employment as if we were in the middle of an “Obama boom.”  This shift from the crisis to exaggerated campaign rhetoric diminished the meaning and impact of the entire speech.  It again revealed a President who can only think in partisan and personal political terms.  It was shameless.

As is often the case, Obama’s words suffered a disconnect from both known facts and likely future prospects.  His strong rhetoric may carry the day as we give the President the momentary benefit of doubt, but events and outcomes will provide the longer historic review.  If we can draw from his six-year history, the Obama administration will be doing a lot of shifting and parsing in the coming months as reality challenges his rhetoric.