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National Security & Defense

Don’t Be Surprised By Friday Night’s Terror Attack

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Be Horrified or Angry, But Don’t Be Surprised By Friday Night’s Terror Attack

One of the most maddening aspects of our reaction to Friday’s Paris attacks is that we’ve been here before. I can understand responding to the attacks with horror and disgust – and 55-gallon drums of anger – but I don’t understand why some people are surprised.

I suppose you might be surprised if you have absolute faith in the president’s public statements.

STEPHANOPOULOS: A lot of the intelligence community seems to think it’s more of a probability [that ISIS brought down that Russian jet in Egypt]. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on House Intelligence Committee thinks it is. And he told me last week that this would mean that ISIS has fully eclipsed Al Qaeda as the greatest terror threat in the world. Is that right?

OBAMA: Well, number one, I think it’s premature, but it is a possibility. Number two, what we’ve known for a long time, since the duration of my presidency and before that, is that a small network of people if they’ve got some skills and bomb making capabilities can carry out some big damage.

That’s from President Obama’s Thursday interview. He also said that that a more direct assault on Al-Raqqah – the headquarters and capital of the Islamic State – is out of the question.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But the coalition hasn’t all stepped up. And some of your critics say, even your friendly critics say, like Fareed Zakaria, that what you have on the ground now is not going to be enough. Every couple of months you’re going to be faced with the same choice of back down or double down.

OBAMA: I think what is true is that this has always been a multi-year project precisely because the governance structures in the Sunni areas of Iraq are weak, and there are none in Syria. And we don’t have ground forces there in in sufficient numbers so simply march into Al-Raqqah in Syria and clean the whole place out. And as a consequence, we’ve always understood that our goal has to be militarily constraining ISIL’s capabilities, cutting off their supply lines, cutting off their financing at the same time as we’re putting a political track together in Syria and fortifying the best impulses in Baghdad so that we can, not just win militarily, but also win by improving governance.

Why do we need ground troops? Why can’t we just bomb Raqqa until nothing connected to ISIS is left? In fact, that’s more or less what France began doing Sunday…

The targets in Sunday’s airstrikes included a command center, a recruitment center, an ammunition storage base and a training camp for the terror group, said Mickael Soria, press adviser for France’s defense minister.

… leaving us to wonder why the command center, a recruitment center, an ammunition storage base and a training camp were still standing in Raqqa after a year of anti-ISIS coalition airstrikes.

In September and October, the U.S. and its allies averaged seven airstrikes per day. That may seem like a lot… until you see what the United States and its allies have done in the past:

During the 43-day Desert Storm air campaign against Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991, coalition fighters and bombers flew 48,224 strike sorties. This translates to roughly 1,100 sorties a day. Twelve years later, the 31-day air campaign that helped free Iraq from Saddam’s government averaged more than 800 offensive sorties a day.

What is this, Diet War?

Finally, here’s the comment that has the president in so much trouble:

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that’s the strategy you’ve been following. But ISIS is gaining strength, aren’t they?

OBAMA: Well, no, I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that from the start our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria it they’ll come in, they’ll leave. But you don’t see this systematic march by ISIL across the terrain.

Hey, remember when Rick Perry was ripping President Obama for living in a “state of delusion” about national security? (Heck of a job, GOP donor class and primary poll respondents!)

Some of us have been talking about this threat for a long time. Over and over again. Here’s the Morning Jolt from January 16, 2015:

Not only does Obama not see the problem for what it is, he behaves as if he doesn’t want us to think of it as much of a problem at all. Look at what Obama has spent the past few days talking about: Faster broadband. Methane emissions. Mandating paid sick days. It’s as if he wants to talk about everything except the guys who have infiltrated Europe and no doubt, the United States as well, who are planning terror attacks.

The leaders of the free world marching in Paris against terrorism, January 11, 2015.

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