Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Call to Arms.

The president will address the nation tonight when he is expected to lay out his strategy for defeating ISIS. The president will make the case that ISIS poses a serious threat to American national security that needs to be addressed.

There are those that believe that the president is late in coming to this conclusion. Popular opinion supports that analysis. The president comes to the podium tonight weighted with some awful polling numbers. His overall approval rating is 40%. Less than half of the country supports his foreign policy.

It is somewhat surprising that the country seems to be way ahead of the president when it comes to dealing with ISIS. 75% of the people believe that ISIS poses a threat to national security and 61% believe that the president should take military action against the militants. A nation once eager to leave Iraq behind now appears eager to take the fight to ISIS.

This mood swing is no doubt caused to some degree by the published videos of the barbaric beheadings of two American journalists by ISIS militants. 94% of those polled were aware of the journalists’ fate. In terms of awareness of a specific event…that 94% is the highest number every recorded in polling history.

Keeping the country safe is the president’s first priority. Sending American men and women into battle is the most difficult decision that a president has to make. It is easy to beat the war drum when you are not the one making that decision. I believe that military action should only be used as a measure of last resort. If slow and thoughtful deliberation is what it takes to exhaust all other options and unify a nation in support of military action; then I’m all for it. We have all too often witnessed the failed results of knee jerk foreign policy. I for one support the president’s thoughtful approach.

As I watch the president tonight I’ll be looking for the answers to these important questions:

- What is the goal? What do we hope to accomplish?

- What is the strategy? I’m not looking for the president to give away military secrets but I want to know in some specific terms how we intend to accomplish our goal.

- Who are the players? I’m tired of the definition of “American Leadership” being “America Goes It Alone.” Are we going it alone again, or has the president put together a coalition of nations to join us in the fight against ISIS? Who are the participants and what roles will they play. I expect that the president will say that our participation will focus on bombing runs against key military command and control centers but will NOT involve US ground troops. That would be a lie. You don’t order bombing runs without first inserting reconnaissance troops to scout out the targeted areas and get a sense of the situation on the ground. There are already some 600+ American “military advisors” in the region. These are CIA black-ops personnel who have been in theater for weeks; providing the president and his military advisors with the critical intelligence they need to develop their strategies. We already have boots on the ground and you can be certain that more will be added in the future.

- What is our exit strategy? This may be the most important question of all. ISIS consists of 15-17,000 well armed troops. But they are no match for the US military. If the president were to give the order at the conclusion of tonight’s speech, ISIS would be nothing more than a bad memory by the end of this weekend. A military victory over ISIS is a foregone conclusion. The more important question is what happens after ISIS is defeated. While we are very proficient at blowing things up, our track record in handling the aftermath is horrific. It took but a minute to drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan only to have them return as we were pulling up stakes. We brought down an evil dictator in Iraq only to have an even more dangerous civil war fill the power vacuum that we left behind. We brought justice to the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, eliminated al Qaeda’s leadership and scattered the remnants throughout the region; only to have even an even more dangerous group like ISIS take al Qaeda’s place. So for me perhaps the most important thing that I want to learn tonight is what steps the president intends to take after ISIS is defeated.

- Will the president call on congress to support his strategy against ISIS? The White House says that the president does not need congressional support to expand current military operations against ISIS. Mitch McConnell says that “the president should seek congressional support whether he believes he needs it or not.” For perhaps the first time in my life I agree with McConnell. It’s time for our fearless elected leaders to leave the safety of the sidelines and take a stand. If ISIS is a threat to our national security to the extent that the president is going to send additional American military personnel in harm’s way, expand our military operations into another sovereign country (Syria) and join forces with an international coalition; then congress should state for the record its support or opposition to the president’s position. The country is engaging in an act of war. I’ll be curious to see if the president calls for their support.
onight the president will give the most important speech that any president can give. Asking a nation to follow his call to arms is the most serious business.

I’ll be watching.

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