Barack Obama innrømmet i helgen at administrasjon undervurderte og for sent forsto trusselen fra ISIS. Når USA endelig reagerer vil det styrke Hafez al-Assads stilling. Det er ikke til å komme utenom, sa Obama.
Mange amerikanske kommentatorer har i lang tid advart mot ISIS og fremveksten av jihadisme i Syria og Irak. Til ingen nytte. Obama ga indirekte kritikerne rett.
Obama was asked how Islamic State fighters had come to control so much territory in Syria and Iraq and whether it was a surprise to him. The president said that during the Iraq war, U.S. military forces with the help of Iraq’s Sunni tribes were able to quash al-Qaida fighters, who went «back underground.»
«During the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos,» Obama said, according to an excerpt release before the show aired.
He noted that his director of national intelligence, James Clapper, has acknowledged that the U.S. «underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.» Obama also said it was «absolutely true» that the U.S. overestimated the ability and will of the Iraqi army.
Both the Islamic State group and the Khorasan Group have been targeted by U.S. airstrikes in recent days; together they constitute the most significant military opposition to Assad, whose government the U.S. would like to see gone.
On the fact that the U.S.-led military campaign had worked to Assad’s benefit, Obama said, «I recognize the contradiction,» but added: «We are not going to stabilize Syria under the rule of Assad,» whose government has committed «terrible atrocities.»
Sen. John McCain, who lost the presidential election to Obama in 2008 and has been a frequent critic on foreign policy, said Monday that the administration had miscalculated the necessity for the United States to keep a residual force of troops in Iraq after the war there ended.
«We predicted exactly what would happen. … It’s like watching a train wreck,» McCain, R-Ariz., said on CNN. «A residual force would have stabilized the situation. It is a direct result of our failure to leave a residual force there.»
Skillet går nå mellom de som mener det må bakkestyrker til, og de som mener at man kan gjøre jobben fra lufta. Om Obama virkelig mener det, eller om det er et vikarierende motiv for å slippe bakkestyrker, er åpent. Obama er på vei «inn» igjen i væpnet konflikt i Midtøsten, en rolle han har gjort alt for å unngå.
Bladet Encounter har Obama på førstesiden i en flyuniform, som da George W. Bush var på hangarskipet Missouri og erklærte Irak for vunnet: Mission accomplished, var ordene Bush brukte og de kom til å hjemsøke ham. Nå skriver Economist «Misson reestablished» om Obama. Det stikker nok i hjertet å se seg selv i samme rolle.