Matthew Continetti, writing for the Washington Free Beacon:
On June 12, as al Qaeda forces marched toward Baghdad, John McCain spoke on the Senate floor. Noting that the al Qaeda affiliate ISIS has conquered a third of Iraqi territory, has overrun the city of Mosul, has captured abandoned American equipment, and has stolen more than $400 million in cash reserves, McCain said that the enemies of the United States are on the verge of a strategic victory. Only a major course correction, McCain went on, might prevent the emergence of an al Qaeda state that stretches from eastern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad. “It’s time that the president got a new national security team,” he said.
Criticism of that team—of Obama’s National Security Adviser, his Secretaries of Defense and State, and his top foreign policy speechwriter—has been mounting. “This is what happens when hacks take over foreign policy,” Kim Strassel wrote last week in a devastating Wall Street Journal column. The criticism is bipartisan. Col. Jack Jacobs, a NBC military analyst, said the other day that the Obama team “most decidedly” is weak, “and isolated, and a lot of decisions it makes are either ill considered or do not consider everything that needs to be considered.” David Ignatius is blunt: “The administration,” he said on Morning Joe, “is going to have to step up.”
The cliché “personnel is policy” strikes me as true. But its truth is a function of whether the personnel we are talking about actually have the capacity to make decisions. “The first thing I think we need to do,” McCain said on the Senate floor, “is call together the people that succeeded in Iraq, those that have been retired, and get together that group and place them in positions of responsibility so that they can develop a policy to reverse this tide of radical Islamic extremism, which directly threatens the security of the United States of America.”
McCain is dreaming. Does anyone think President Obama is about to replace Susan Rice with Fred Kagan, and switch out General Austin for General Petraeus? To assign responsibility for American incompetence to President Obama’s National Security Council is to miss the target. The NSC is a symptom of the dysfunction, not its cause. Behind our endless series of foreign-policy screw-ups—Benghazi, Snowden, Syria, Crimea, Bergdahl, Iraq—is not Obama’s team. It’s Obama.
Whole thing here.