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National Security & Defense

‘Shoot First and Aim Later’ — What Is Obama Talking About?

Yesterday, in the midst of his condescending defense of his manifestly failed ISIS strategy, President Obama said something particularly galling. Responding to CNN’s Jim Acosta, who bluntly asked, “Why can’t we take out these bastards?” Obama responded with this (my emphasis):

Well Jim, I just spent the last three questions answering that very question, so I don’t know what more you want me to add. I think I’ve described very specifically what our strategy is. And I’ve described very specifically why we do not pursue some of the other strategies that have been suggested. This is not, as I said, a traditional military opponent. We can retake territory. And as long as we leave our troops there, we can hold it, but that does not solve the underlying problem of eliminating the dynamics that are producing these kinds of violent extremist groups. And so we are going to continue to pursue the strategy that has the best chance of working even though it does not offer the satisfaction, I guess, of a neat headline or an immediate resolution. And part of the reason, as I said, Jim, is because there are costs to the other side. I just want to remind people. This is not an abstraction. When we send troops in, those troops get injured, they get killed, they’re away from their families. Our country spends hundreds of billions of dollars. And so given the fact that there are enormous sacrifices involved in any military action, it’s best that we don’t, you know, shoot first and aim later. It’s important for us to get the strategy right and the strategy that we are pursuing is the right one.

What is he talking about? Mosul fell to ISIS in June of last year. We’ve been engaged in continuous air strikes against ISIS for month after month. We’ve had troops back in Iraq for a year. Have we not been aiming? Have we not been engaged in contingency planning for a variety of military options? The idea that his critics are suggesting something impulsive and reactionary is absurd. 

But this is how the Obama administration deals with criticism, with casual condescension and flippant phrases – behavior that plays very well with a hard-left base that just loves it when their favorite celebrities “DESTROY” conservatives with fun little sound bites. Why make an argument when you can offer an insult? In the meantime, pay no attention to the facts — that his administration has been utterly ineffective at solving the “underlying problem of eliminating the dynamics that producing these kinds of violent extremist groups” and that while he mocks those who look for an “immediate solution,” his go-slow approach has allowed ISIS to consolidate its gains, expand its reach, and strike into the heart of Paris.

“Shoot first and aim later?” No, we’ve been aiming for more than a year. It’s past time to pull the trigger.


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