For Republicans ISIL is Only an Excuse to Attack Our President

There is a great deal of talk about the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL but how much of a threat is ISIL, really?

According to Republicans, ISIL’s Abu is about to land like Cortez on the shores of the New World and start burning our cities to the ground. But there is only so much room to hide under Lindsey Graham’s bed.

Consequently, there has been much pressure put on President Barack Obama to do something about ISIL. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), when he is not hiding under his bed, says the president is AWOL and calls his foreign policy “delusional.”

Nothing short of full-scale war will satisfy the chickenhawks of course, who do not plan to do any fighting themselves when the little guy is so much more expendable. And they have no intention of spending money on bodies broken by bullets when they can just spend it on more bullets, the profit-margin on bullets being so much better for their stock portfolios.

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President Obama, the White House tells us, met yesterday “with his National Security Council to discuss our comprehensive strategy to counter the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria. ” This group included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:

September 30, 2014

Readout of the President’s Meeting with the National Security Council on Countering ISIL

This afternoon, the President met with his National Security Council to discuss our comprehensive strategy to counter the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria. He received an update on the airstrikes in Iraq and Syria undertaken by the U.S. military and our international partners, and the impact of these operations on ISIL. The President discussed with his national security team the importance of making progress on implementing the non-military aspects of the strategy, including organizing partner nation contributions along the multiple lines of effort that underpin our strategy to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL. The President was also briefed on the effects of U.S. airstrikes in Syria on the Khorasan Group.

Participants in today’s meeting included:

The Vice President
Secretary of State John Kerry
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
Attorney General Eric Holder
Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson (via secure video)
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough
National Security Advisor Susan Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power (via secure video)
Counselor to the President John Podesta
White House Counsel Neil Eggleston
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency John Brennan
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey
U.S. Central Command Commander Lloyd Austin (via secure video)
Director of the FBI James Comey (via secure video)
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shaun Donovan
Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco
Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes
Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Rand Beers
White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and Gulf Region Philip Gordon
Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, General John Allen (retired)
Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL Brett McGurk

This is precisely what any reasonable person would want to hear, isn’t it? That the president is keeping abreast of the situation, and based on the most recent facts on the ground, is formulating reasoned responses to events. This seems a far more productive course, at any rate than dressing up as a fighter pilot, landing on an aircraft carrier, and proclaiming a premature victory.

Republicans like to make fun of Obama for talking and thinking about things when he could be invading someone instead, but if President Bush had actually thought and talked about things rather than acting on his “gut” before he invaded Iraq, we wouldn’t be dealing with ISIL now, because there would be no ISIL to deal with. ISIL is, after all, the ugly step-child of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AIQ), which itself a product of Bush’s ill-thought out invasion.

To listen conservatives, Obama has done nothing at all so far, which is not true. He has worked to build a coalition of partners to oppose ISIL – a difficult task made easier by ISIL’s seeming determination to horrify everyone – and at this very moment, is busily directing a bombing campaign against them in support of Kurdish, Syrian, and Iraqi boots on the ground.

And far from accomplishing nothing, it is reported this morning that “The leader of the self-styled Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS or ISIL, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has fled the intense US-led aerial bombardment in Syria after sustaining serious injuries”

This is a measured, reasoned response, the response of a statesman, not a cowboy. It is a response that may or may not work (only time will tell), but it is better than going off half-cocked, and it is better than destroying the American economy – AGAIN – by invading a country we already invaded and just got out of.

You have to wonder what parts of this equation the mainstream media doesn’t understand. The calculus, after all, is very simple.
Yet we continue to hear criticisms from the mainstream and conservative media, leading one to wonder if all this ISIL Hysteria is less about ISIL and more about Obama, and the suspicion that Republicans are far more horrified by a black president than Islamic terrorists is borne out by the rhetoric.

After all, Republicans have shown scant inclination to lead the country, let alone doing something for the sake of the common weal, like funding the federal government, or sticking around to take a vote on what to do about ISIL. Like Greg Abbott, they’re far too interested in their pocketbooks to care about the likes of you and me.

This all serves to make it very difficult for the rest of us to take Republicans seriously on the threat posed by ISIL. The facts also call for sober reflection.

Conservative news outlet Human Events wails that,

The two most critical rules of warfare are to never tell your enemy what you will not do, and never be seen as a reluctant, vacillating warrior.

Barack Obama has broken both of these rules over the course of his presidency in the war on terror. He told them at the outset when we’d be leaving, and now says under no circumstances will he put more “boots on the ground.” I guess they’re happy to hear that.

There is such a catastrophic lack of thought processes here that it is almost a paean of praise to President George W. Bush.

Actually, of course, Bush’s SOFA agreement with Iraq told them when we’d be leaving. Obama was obliged to act in accord with that agreement unless he wanted to re-invade Iraq and topple its legitimate government – a government which, by the way, Americans had died, under Bush’s direction, to establish.

This blame Obama for Bush meme has gotten far too much traction thanks to skillful conservative deceit – like the Benghazi hoax – directed by Fox News. The simple fact is that thanks to Bush, there is only so much Obama can do in response to ISIL.

Even so, an ISIL invasion isn’t going to happen. ISIL is not a nation. It calls itself a “caliphate,” but that is more a grandiose term for a bandit gang with delusions of grandeur than a statement of fact. Unlike the original caliphate, which spanned many nations, ISIL barely spans two, and not the entirety of either. It does not have an economy outside of plunder and ransom.

Like the Assyrians of old, ISIL uses terror as a force multiplier, and that magnifies the threat in the minds of potential victims, but the Assyrians relied also on ethnic cohesion, and ISIL is more a multinational mercenary force, its sole common denominator being religious extremism deployed as an excuse for thuggish behavior.

In the end, ISIL and the Republicans have more in common than in opposition. The only difference is that Republicans are limited for the most part to threats of violence. And both seem more opposed to President Obama than to each other.

You wonder if more time should not be spent talking about domestic terrorism than a bunch of thugs limited so far to Syria and Iraq. After all, our own terrorists are also motivated by religious extremism, and much closer to home.

Map from Wikimedia Commons

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