The Corner

Obama, the Nearly Worthless Humanitarian

With regard to President Obama’s attempt last night to show moral leadership by announcing certain actions in Iraq — and while deliberately avoiding all other TV, radio, Internet, or print responses to Obama’s speech — these thoughts insistently push to the fore: 

Why, pray tell, are there so many thousands of beleaguered people without food or water on a mountaintop in Iraq right now, people who, Obama now says, need to be rescued by American efforts?

Because Barack Obama diddled for at least two months longer than he should have before intervening to stop the advance of the pure, unadulterated evil that is ISIS.

Seven weeks ago, the father-daughter Cheney team came out with a splash to sound the alarm about America’s dangerously growing weakness, both militarily and diplomatically. As Liz Cheney told me on June 19 (and as I reported in a piece published here on June 23), “We need limited air strikes and Special Forces on the ground to guide the air strikes. We need to be in there, right now, in fact yesterday, helping to fight and defeat ISIS. Right now, we’ve got to be very focused on how important it is to defeat ISIS. . . . We’ve got to be sure ISIS can’t create an al-Qaeda haven in the heart of the Middle East. It’s critically important that they be defeated now.”

It’s not as if ISIS forces are hard to identify. They aren’t like the so-called “Sunni insurgents” of 2006 who hid amongst the Iraqi population, laying out IEDs and ambushing American servicemen. Instead, most of these subhuman murderers from ISIS work in the open, garbed in distinctive black, easy to spot and thus easy to target. By several weeks before June 19, their genocidal aims were clear, their barbaric methods well known, their prowess at sowing terror quite obvious. We need not have put American “ground troops” (other than limited special forces) into Iraq to have started bombing ISIS, which we should have started doing by the first third of June. 

Instead, Obama stood by and watched as more territory fell to these vermin. He watched as thousands upon thousands of innocents were raped, tortured, and butchered. He watched as cultural treasures were destroyed, as Christians were slaughtered, as a patently obvious humanitarian and security crisis was unfolding right before his eyes. Still, other than to send in a very limited number of American “advisers,” Obama did next to nothing. 

And now he wants to rescue the thousands from their mountaintop, while protecting American personnel as well? Well, he’s right to do so now. But he should have done so at least eight weeks ago. The people are starving on the mountain because Barack Obama allowed their homes, their towns, to be destroyed. They are there because the man who tried last night to sound like Mr. Tough Guy dithered for so many weeks like Hamlet on an endless-replay loop. 

What moral clarity, pray tell, exists now that didn’t exist in June? What military advantages do we have now that we didn’t have then? (Obviously, we actually have fewer now.) What diplomatic gains have we achieved?

By all means, send in air power now. Blow ISIS to smithereens if we can. But don’t pretend as if this was a hard decision. Don’t pretend as if it’s a mark of strength. Don’t pretend as if these actions speak well of the United States or the West. They don’t. The dire circumstances in Iraq right now exist precisely because of the Obama-created American weakness.

One only wishes we had a real president, instead of a Moral Preener in Chief. 

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