- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Obama foreign policy has long resembled the old Abbott and Costello “who’s on first” routine: a dazed and confused mush of leftist ideology and demonstrable weakness. The left hand hasn’t known what the far-left hand has been doing. Or the far-left hand has had to take the left one out to the woodshed for not being appropriately apologetic or irresolute.

The result? A world aflame, convulsed in violent chaos.

Witness the latest example of the administration’s lack of unit cohesion.

Following last week’s beheading of American photojournalist James Foley by the Islamic State, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held a Pentagon briefing about the threat posed by the monstrous terrorist army — a threat once dismissed by their boss, President Obama, as “junior varsity.”

Mr. Hagel rang the clearest possible alarm about the nature of the threat, categorizing the Islamic State as “beyond just a terrorist group.” He went on to say, “They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well-funded. Oh, this is beyond anything that we’ve seen. So we must prepare for everything,”

He is, unfortunately, correct.

Given the jihadists’ stunning success in conquering wide swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq, its seizure of U.S.- and Russian-made weapons, including possibly surface-to-air missiles, and its control of oil fields generating an estimated $2 million per day in revenue, the terrorists of the Islamic State are sitting pretty.

It’s a matter of debate as to whether the organization has the capability to strike the U.S. homeland, but it certainly has the intent to do so. Unless it is completely annihilated, it’s just a matter of time before it will be able to carry out an attack here at home. With its sophisticated network of supply lines and support, the Islamic State will continue its forward march, even through setbacks delivered by limited U.S. airstrikes and material support for opposition forces.

Meanwhile, the man sitting next to Mr. Hagel at the briefing, Gen. Dempsey, went even further in his initial comments.

“This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision, which will eventually have to be defeated,” he said. Right on.

Unfortunately, he went on to say, “It is possible to contain them. They can be contained, but not in perpetuity.”

Huh? One thing we know about the most committed jihadis — the networks of which are in almost every corner of the globe — is that they cannot be contained. They will not be contained.

The administration’s current approach is to try to roll back the Islamic State army in Iraq, and although that’s been somewhat successful (in large part owing to the heroism of our Kurdish allies), its limited nature means the organization will be able to adapt and navigate around it.

Further, as Gen. Dempsey indicated, the threat posed by this jihadi army is grave enough to require a more comprehensive strategy, designed not simply to roll it back, but to “defeat” it.

The problem is that almost as soon as Gen. Dempsey made these remarks, he walked them back, referring to the Islamic State as merely a “regional” menace that did not pose an immediate challenge. With a few choice words, he essentially turned the threat he had just called catastrophic and imminent back into a JV squad.

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