- - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Obama foreign policy has always been a destructive — and deliberate — mush of leftist ideology and suicidal weakness.

The result? A world aflame, convulsed in violent chaos — and getting worse.

The administration has never had particularly strong unit cohesion. There’s only been one person in charge: Barack Obama. He deliberately kept his inner circle limited to three people: his wife, Michelle, his closest adviser, Valerie Jarrett, and his most trusted political counsel, David Axelrod. Many others have offered advice, publicly and privately, only to be “yessed” to death and then summarily ignored.

Mr. Obama has run his own show, serving only his own leftist agenda, not American interests and security. After seven years of deliberate U.S. inaction and impotence, the Islamic State now leads the global jihad. And it should surprise no one that the president still refuses to fight the war in any meaningful way — or that he ever will.

In August 2014, the Islamic State, or ISIS, beheaded its first American, photojournalist James Foley. About a week later, then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and 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 dismissed just months earlier by Mr. Obama as “junior varsity.”

Mr. Hagel rang the clearest possible alarm about the nature of the threat, categorizing ISIS 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 was correct. And the president did nothing beyond approve token airstrikes that achieved little.

Even back then, ISIS was sitting pretty. It had conquered wide swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq, acquired U.S. and Russian-made weapons, seized $1 billion in Iraqi bank assets and $200 million annually from stolen Iraqi wheat, and generate an estimated $500 million per year in smuggled oil — a target only now being attacked by the United States.

ISIS certainly intends to strike the U.S. homeland, so unless it is annihilated, it’s just a matter of time before it will be able to carry out a domestic attack of the kind it recently executed in Paris, Beirut and aboard a Russian jetliner. And with its sophisticated network of supply lines, support and recruitment following its successful attacks, ISIS will continue its forward march, even through setbacks delivered by ramped-up U.S., French and Russian airstrikes.

Few recall that during that August 2014 Pentagon briefing, Gen. Dempsey also correctly identified the enemy: “This is an organization that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision, which will eventually have to be defeated.”

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

Sound familiar? Mr. Obama claimed ISIS was “contained” just a day before it launched its massacre in Paris.

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

Even after Paris, Mr. Obama will not change his strategic approach, around which ISIS has demonstrated an ability to navigate.

Now more than ever, the growing threat requires a more comprehensive strategy designed not simply to roll back ISIS but to “defeat” it — and still Mr. Obama will not deliver one, because he is ideologically allergic to any serious military engagement in the Middle East.

His decision to send 200 special operations forces to Syria does not constitute a meaningful shift. It’s the bare minimum he thinks he can get away with given the growing political pressure from the military and fellow Democrats to be more aggressive. He looks like he’s “doing something” while really not doing much at all, particularly given the obscenely restrictive rules of engagement.

It’s a national security three-card monte.

Recall that almost as soon as Gen. Dempsey made these remarks, he walked them back, referring to ISIS as merely a “regional” menace that did not pose an immediate challenge. The downing of the Russian jet and the Paris attacks show that ISIS is no longer “regional” and most certainly poses an immediate challenge.

At the time, he also slammed the brakes on any sustained bombing campaign in Syria, because, he said, there was no evidence (yet) that ISIS was involved in “active plotting against the homeland” or Europe.

That didn’t mesh with reports during the summer of 2014 indicating that European authorities had broken up heavily armed terror cells linked to ISIS.

Ask Parisians what they now think of the administration’s “analysis.”

The tortuous state of Mr. Obama’s approach to ISIS and his foreign policy more broadly is a direct result of his deeply held leftist view that American power is the root of all evil — and, therefore, its exercise must be avoided at all costs.

The truth is that while Mr. Obama talks tough about “degrading” the jihadi threat, he will never execute a sustained and serious strategy to actually do it.

Unfortunately, we’re not the only ones seeing the weakness. The enemy is sees it, too. So they continue their advance, knowing full well that the only power that can truly stop them — a determined American commander in chief — is wholly uninterested in doing so.

Monica Crowley is editor of online opinion at The Washington Times.

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