Last week brought a reminder of what the United States has lost since Bob Gates and Leon Panetta left the Obama cabinet. Both are straight shooters with a centrist, hardheaded sensibility.
Panetta has been making headlines with his criticism of Obama on 60 Minutes for pulling out of Iraq too soon (“I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq”) and not doing more early on to aid the Syrian opposition (“we pay the price for not doing that in what we see happening with ISIS”).Read more
On Tuesday, September 23, the U.S. government announced that a new bombing campaign was under way in Syria. The Obama administration had been building the case for airstrikes for weeks. The president and his surrogates repeatedly highlighted the threat posed by the Islamic State (often called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL), which has captured large swaths of territory across Iraq and Syria.Read more
The U.S. launched airstrikes in Syria for the first time overnight. Much of the public discourse in the weeks leading up to the bombings focused on the Islamic State, a former branch of al Qaeda that has captured a significant amount territory across both Iraq and Syria. But the bombings are not just intended to weaken the Islamic State. U.S. bombers are also targeting positions controlled by Jabhat al Nusrah, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.Read more
Robert Gates, President Obama's first defense secretary, said this morning on CBS that President Obama's strategy for defeating the Islamic State is unrealistic:
"The reality is, they're not going to be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces or the Peshmerga or the Sunni tribes acting on their own," said Gates.Read more
Barack Obama’s foreign policy is in shambles. He had a dream, expressed in Cairo, of “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world,” of “a world where extremists no longer threaten our people.” So he got out of Iraq and failed to follow through in Libya, seeing no need for American boots on the ground in such a brave new world. He wanted to reset relations with Russia, expecting reciprocal behavior from Vladimir Putin. He indulged the hope that talking about a pivot to Asia would make it so.Read more
In an address Wednesday night to the nation, President Obama held up America’s strategy in Yemen as a model for the counterterrorism strategy he intends to pursue in Iraq and Syria. By doing so, he committed to a strategy of targeting terrorists from the air and supporting local security forces in their counterterrorism fight.Read more
President Obama is set to discuss his plan for confronting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in a primetime speech this evening. According to press reports, the president is ready to authorize the use of military strikes against the group in Syria. Thus far, American military action has been limited to neighboring Iraq. This is a step in the right direction by Obama. As the administration recognizes, the U.S. and its allies cannot take the fight to ISIL without targeting its substantive strongholds in Syria.Read more
Earlier today, the news broke that Peter Theo Curtis, an American who had been held hostage in Syria since 2012, has been released by his captors. Coming just days after another American hostage, James Foley, was brutally beheaded by the Islamic State, Curtis’s freedom brings a sense of relief.Read more
A key figure in the security failures surrounding the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya is fighting alongside members of Ansar al Sharia, which is one of the terrorist groups responsible for the assault on the U.S. mission and annex that night.Read more
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, has long been hard for the central government to control because of its combustible mix of Arabs and Kurds. The first time I visited Mosul was in August 2003 when a tenuous calm was maintained by the 101st Airborne Division. Its commander, a then-obscure two-star general named David Petraeus, had on his own initiative opened the Syrian border to trade, struck deals with Syria and Turkey to provide badly needed electricity, restored telephone service, and held elections to elect local leaders.Read more
It’s widely agreed that the collapse of Iraq would be a disaster for American interests and security in the Middle East and around the world. It also seems to be widely assumed either that there's nothing we can now do to avert that disaster, or that our best bet is supporting Iran against al Qaeda. Both assumptions are wrong. It would be irresponsible to embrace a premature fatalism with respect to Iraq. And it would be damaging and counterproductive to accept a transformation of our alliances and relationships in the Middle East to the benefit of the regime in Tehran. There is a third alternative.Read more
In a statement released just now, the White House press secretary says that the U.S. government will "increase" assistance to the government of Iraq "as required." The White House also "strongly condemns the recent attacks in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)."Read more
In an interview that will air tonight, Hillary Clinton will tell Diane Sawyer that the Benghazi terrorist attack that left four Americans dead is "more of a reason to run" for president of the United States.Read more
Addressing a Center for Strategic and International Studies forum earlier this week, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Michael G. Vickers detailed a laundry list of national security threats that the United States faces today, the American Forces Press Services reports, including:Read more
Two top ranking Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services committees released a joint statement on the release of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for the release of five Taliban operatives from Guantanamo Bay. From Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services committee, and James Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services committee:Read more
Steve Hayes, with Mara Liasson and Charles Krauthammer, last night on Fox News:
And here's the Internet-only aftershow:
Forty-one recently declassified State Department documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, have reignited the controversy over the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Ben-ghazi, Libya. One document in particular, an email authored by Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser and speechwriter for the president, has garnered the most attention.Read more
The State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism yesterday. And once again the U.S. government has highlighted al Qaeda’s relationship with the Iranian regime. While the Iranians hold some al Qaeda members under house arrest, others are allowed to operate. And these terrorists, based on Iranian soil, play a prominent role in al Qaeda’s international network.Read more
A retired military officer serving in the U.S.'s Africa Command headquarters in Germany told the House oversight committee Thursday that it was his belief at the time that the September 11, 2012, attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attributable to an Islamic extremist group and not an internet video.
Robert Lovell was an brigadier general with the Air Force, stationed in Germany, when four Americans were killed in Benghazi. In his congressional testimony, Lovell said that his role was to focus on "attribution" of the attack.Read more
Media reports suggest that President Obama is looking to declare victory and withdraw from Afghanistan, as he did from Iraq. The military commander in Afghanistan, General Joe Dunford, has said that he needs 10,000 US troops to accomplish the missions the president has said he wants to accomplish after this year.Read more
A video of a large al Qaeda gathering in Yemen has raised eyebrows in the press. Nasir al Wuhayshi, the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as well as general manager of al Qaeda’s global network, can be heard saying to a crowd of more than 100: "We must eliminate the cross. ... The bearer of the cross is America!"Read more
Fred Kagan gave the following testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade on "Is al Qaeda Winning? Grading the Administration's Counterterrorism Policy."Read more
Gossip in Jerusalem suggests that many Israelis misunderstand John Kerry’s obsession with the peace process: They believe that the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate is using Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as a platform to challenge Hillary Clinton for the 2016 nomination. That’s not likely. Instead, it’s in comparing Kerry’s dogged efforts to that of his predecessor that Kerry’s real motives become clear. Clinton left a light footprint as secretary of state because she didn’t want anything sticking to her when campaign season rolls around.Read more
For five years, the Obama administration has touted its success in the war against al Qaeda. In formal addresses, daily press briefings, and campaign speeches top administration officials have celebrated the “decimation” of al Qaeda and predicted its imminent extinction.Read more
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