Surprize: The president has elected not to get serious on ISIS
In the wake of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, beheading 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Tom McInerney is slamming the Obama administration for failing to take obvious military steps to destroy the terrorists and identify radical Islam as the motivating factor for the atrocities committed throughout the region.
McInerney is a Vietnam veteran and rose to the No. 3 position in the Air Force during his career in uniform. He is now a Fox News military analyst.
On Sunday, ISIS released a new video depicting the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt on a beach in Libya.
U.S.-led airstrikes have been aimed at ISIS since August, after the terrorists beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. However, McInerney said the operations could be far more intense and would quickly cripple the enemy if done right.
“I think the air campaign is not nearly the intensity we needed,” McInerney said. “It’s not even an air campaign. It’s somewhere between seven and 15 sorties a day when we absolutely need upward of 100-200 sorties a day. I’m calling for 200. We need to be attacking the ISIS capital of Raqqa (Syria) 24/7. We need to close the highway between Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq.”
He said those steps would quickly tighten the noose around ISIS.
“Nothing can move on that highway,” he said. “If it’s moving, we’ll destroy it. We’ll kill their commerce. We’ll kill their ability to feed people in their ‘Islamic State.’ That’s going to require between 100-200 sorties a day, plus we’re going to need constant surveillance reconnaissance assets over the area.”
McInerney added, “Let’s get serious on this. The president has elected not to get serious. The Pentagon wants to do this, but the White House is holding back.”
Another concern inside Iraq is the fate of 300 U.S. Marines and the Iraqi forces they are training at the Al Asad military base in Anbar Province of Iraq. Reports conflict over what danger ISIS forces pose near the facility. Pentagon officials publicly state they are not at all worried about the safety of U.S. and Iraqi forces. McInerney isn’t so sure and said this is another issue that could easily be resolved with decisive action.
“We need to put a Global Hawk or a Reaper (drone) overhead between Al-Asad and the town that they captured, al Baghdadi,” he said. “Anything that moves out of al-Baghdadi toward Al-Asad should be destroyed. In addition, we ought to continuously attack al-Baghdadi. In other words, a good offense gives you a great defense.”
Again, the general sees a dithering administration.
“By attacking those troops in al-Baghdadi, they’re going to be fearing for their lives, but I don’t see this being done,” he said. “This is 101 in basic war fighting, and we’re not getting that. I know the Pentagon wants to do that, but they’re not getting support out of the White House. This is being micromanaged out of the White House.”
A new CNN poll reveals 58 percent of Americans now disapprove of the president’s handling of ISIS.
In addition to McInerney’s frustration with the military tactics being employed against ISIS, he is livid over the Obama administration refusing to define the motivation behind the threat. Calling the rise and expansion of ISIS the result of “what happens when good people do nothing to fight evil,” McInerney said the Obama administration is keeping its head in the sand about how the ideology of this movement must be confronted.
“The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is a radical Islamic organization,” McInerney said. “Al-Qaida, which attacked us on 9/11, is a radical Islamic organization. Hamas in the Gaza Strip is a radical Islamic organization. All these organizations that people hear about are radical Islamists. The Iranian government is a radical Islamic organization.”
The general said it is incumbent for President Obama to stop avoiding the elephant in the room and clearly state who and what America is fighting.
“Until the president identifies the threat that we are facing as radical Islam, it makes it very difficult to defeat the threat,” he said. “I just can’t say it any clearer. It’s important that this White House and this president identify the threat for what it is.”
Obama was vacationing in California over the Presidents’ Day weekend. The only White House responses to the ISIS beheadings or Saturday’s terrorist attacks in Denmark came from written statements. In a very short response to the shootings in Copenhagen, a three-sentence statement from a National Security Council spokesperson never referred to terrorism or radical Islam. On Sunday, a statement from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest referred to the 21 slain Coptic Christians only as “Egyptian citizens.”
McInerney is mystified by the lengths to which the administration goes to avoid references to radical Islam.
“I don’t know. Maybe we have some Islamists embedded in the White House,” McInerney said. “Whatever it is, it is absolutely bizarre. When Charlie Hebdo was attacked in Europe, everybody was calling it radical Islam except our president, who was calling it violent extremists.”
“What is the ideology of violent extremists? I don’t know,” he said. “Are they Irish? Are they Swedes? Who are they? I do know what the ideology of radical Islamists is. It is the Quran, the Hadith and Shariah law. Those are the things that we are fighting against.
Last week, President Obama requested a new congressional authorization for the use of military force, or AUMF, against ISIS. Some lawmakers are pleased that Obama is consulting Congress on the mission some six months after it began. Others say the scope is too narrow and should not be limited to just the next three years.
McInerney is not impressed by the request.
“He has given a political document,” he explained. “He’s trying to tie the hands of the president who follows him. He is not being aggressive on this because I think it’s a funding thing. His priorities are on domestic policy. It’s not on the global situation. He’s had four secretaries of defense. No president in our history has had four secretaries of defense. We have lost Libya, Syria and now Yemen. Plus, we have really lost Iraq, because that’s now become a proxy state of Iran when we pulled out.”
In just over six years of the Obama presidency, McInerney said the pendulum in the Middle East is swinging in the wrong direction.
“He has completely changed the geopolitical position in the Middle East,” he said. “Egypt is now getting aid from the Russians. Forty years ago, we made a brilliant move when we flipped Egypt from relying on the Soviet Union to the United States and the Western world. This administration has completely reversed that. It’s a disaster.”