Obama: “They” Underestimated ISIS

Apparently, the buck doesn't stop in the Oval Office these days.

Obama Syria

Last night on 60 Minutes President Obama said that the United States had “underestimated” the threat posted by ISIS/ISIL in the past and that the full scope of the threat the organization poses until very recently when it became to overrun the Iraqi Army and establish something resembling a state:

WASHINGTON — President Obama acknowledged in an interview broadcast on Sunday that the United States had underestimated the rise of the Islamic State militant group, which has seized control of a broad swath of territory in the Middle East, and had placed too much trust in the Iraqi military, allowing the region to become “ground zero for jihadists around the world.”

Reflecting on how a president who wanted to disentangle the United States from wars in the Middle East ended up redeploying to Iraq and last week expanding air operations into Syria, Mr. Obama pointed to assessments by the intelligence agencies that said they were surprised by the rapid advances made in both countries by the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

“Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” Mr. Obama said on “60 Minutes,” the CBS News program, referring to James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence. Mr. Obama added that the agencies had overestimated the ability and will of the Iraqi Army to fight such Sunni extremists. “That’s true. That’s absolutely true,” he said.

In citing Mr. Clapper, Mr. Obama made no mention of any misjudgment he may have made himself. Critics have repeatedly pointed to his comment last winter characterizing groups like the Islamic State as a “JV team” compared with the original Al Qaeda.

But he rebutted critics who say his refusal to intervene more directly in the Syrian civil war and his decision to pull all American troops out of Iraq in 2011 had created conditions that allowed the rise of the Islamic State. Instead, he pointed a finger at Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, until recently the prime minister of Iraq. “When we left, we had left them a democracy that was intact, a military that was well equipped and the ability then to chart their own course,” Mr. Obama said. “And that opportunity was squandered over the course of five years or so because the prime minister, Maliki, was much more interested in consolidating his Shia base.”

By contrast, he praised Mr. Maliki’s newly installed successor, Haider al-Abadi, whom he met in New York last week, for assembling a more inclusive government that may undercut Sunni support for the Islamic State. Mr. Abadi “so far at least has sent all the right signals,” Mr. Obama said. “We can’t do this for them.”

But he was measured in that assessment, saying there had been “some progress” by the new Baghdad government. “I wouldn’t say great yet,” he said.

Mr. Obama conceded that his strategy would be less likely to succeed in Syria, where he is working at odds with the government rather than in tandem. Mr. Obama has called for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to step down, but now the two share an enemy in the Islamic State. The United States’ plan relies on trying to build up a separate rebel force that can take on both Mr. Assad’s government and the Islamic State, but Mr. Obama dismissed as “mythology” the notion that he should have done that two years ago.

The President’s comments are being perceived by made observers and analysts as an effort shift blame in the argument over who may have been responsible for not being on top of the situation in the Middle East, and in some sense to the through the intelligence community under the bus, specifically by referencing statements by Director National Intelligence James Clapper from last week. In those statements, Clapper did say that he had underestimated the fighting ability of ISIS fighters and, in tern, overestimated the will to fight of the Iraqi Army. That, however, is a far way from saying that the intelligence community didn’t properly assess what was going on in Syria and Iraq before this summer, and Eli Lake reports that the President’s remarks are already receiving some push back:

Reached by The Daily Beast after Obama’s interview aired, one former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted. “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” the former official said.

(…)

Still, other senior intelligence officials have been warning about ISIS for months. In prepared testimony before the annual House and Senate intelligence committees’ threat hearings in January and February, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the recently departed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the group would likely make a grab for land before the end of the year. ISIS “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.” Of course, the prediction wasn’t exactly hard to make. By then, Flynn noted, ISIS had taken the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, and the demonstrated an “ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.”

The ability of ISIS to hold that territory will depend on its “resources, local support, as well as the responses of [Iraqi security forces] and other opposition groups in Syria,” Flynn added. He noted that while many Sunnis likely opposed ISIS, “some Sunni tribes and insurgent groups appear willing to work tactically with [ISIS] as they share common anti-government goals.”

Flynn was not alone. Clapper himself in that hearing warned that the three most effective jihadist groups in Syria—one of which he said was ISIS—presented a threat as a magnet for attracting foreign fighters. John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, said he thought both ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s formal franchise in Syria, presented a threat to launch external operations against the West.

It’s worth noting that January was when President Obama was referring to ISIS and other groups that had spun off from “core” al Qaeda as the “jayvee” team in what seemed at the time as a way of saying that they didn’t pose nearly the threat to the United States that they would like to think, or that al Qaeda did in the time before September 11th. I’m not sure how much I’d read into those January comments, though. To some degree, it seemed to me at the time that they were part of an Administration strategy to diminish the importance of ISIS/ISIL internationally. It may not have been a wise strategy, but I’m not sure that, in and of themselves, the President’s remarks in January were an indication that he didn’t take see the group as a potential threat. As Lake notes, if that’s what he actually believed then he apparently wasn’t paying attention to his own intelligence briefings.

That being said, the President deserves criticism for attempting to pawn off responsibility for missing the ISIS threat on the intelligence community. This is especially true given the fact that “they” appear to have been well aware of ISIS long before the summer and, presumably, were briefing the President on the matter as warranted. At the very least, it is a marked difference from the idea expressed in Harry Truman’s famous maxim that “the buck stops here,” meaning that the President is ultimately responsible for everything that happens under his watch. Even if it were true that the intelligence community dropped the ball here, which is most certainly what the President was implying in his interview last night, the President is the one who should take public responsibility when something goes wrong. If it turns out down the road that personnel changes are warranted because of what happened, then that’s a different issue. As a broad matter, the President, any President, owes it to the American people to take responsibility for what his Administration does and what it fails to do. Instead of that, however, the President is asking us to believe that if something went wrong with regard to our response to the supposed ISIS threat, it wasn’t his fault. That’s not leadership.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Intelligence, Military Affairs, National Security, Politicians, Terrorism, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. stonetools says:

    Doug, I know you are very concerned about this. But can you just stick to one ISIS thread per day?
    Otherwise people have to repeat a lot.
    Respectfully,

    Stonetools

  2. Tillman says:

    It’d be so easy to take responsibility for dropping the ball if, in fact, we had a ball at all to drop. We’re already bombing them for next to no reason. There is no ball to drop anymore. It is gone.

    And how the hell does Clapper still have a job?

  3. Guarneri says:

    In addition, when mr kroft asked how he sat for years in the church but knew nothing of rev wrights philosophies the president said he was listening to his iPod. When reminded the iPod had not yet been invented Obama replied “don’t you know who I am?”

    Mr kraft dutifully took notes.

  4. stonetools says:

    That being said, the President deserves criticism for attempting to pawn off responsibility for missing the ISIS threat on the intelligence community. This is especially true given the fact that “they” appear to have been well aware of ISIS long before the summer and, presumably, were briefing the President on the matter as warranted

    Telling the President about the existence of ISIS is a damned sight different from saying that this is one of several jihadist groups to saying that this is a group that in six months is going to rout an Iraqi army, drive back the Kurds, take Mosul and be simultaneously at the borders of Baghdad and Israel. I’m confident no one predicted that. Nor should they have.
    War is like that. In 1940 not even the very efficient and well informed German general staff predicted they would defeat France and drive the British from the Continent in six weeks . Does that mean they were incompetent? Nope. Just means that war is unpredictable. Petain was Petain and Rommel was, well, Rommel.

  5. Jack says:

    What, no “present” button is available as president?

  6. anjin-san says:

    When it come to predictions, there is one thing I am sure about. A lot of Democrats predicted way back when that going to war in Iraq would lead to a situation something like the one we have today.

    At the time, Republicans were asking Democrats who made that accurate prediction why they hated America…

  7. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: When it comes to predictions, there is one thing I am sure about. A lot of Conservatives predicted way back when that electing Obama would lead to a situation something like the one we have today.

    At the time, Liberals were asking Conservatives who made that accurate prediction why they hated America…

  8. michael reynolds says:

    Mr. Obama is responsible for any intelligence failures – the buck does stop there. If he needs to fire some people, he should fire them.

    The real failure of intelligence was on the part of the US military. Did anyone in the Pentagon predict that the Iraqi Army would disintegrate on first contact? What exactly is the point of the Pentagon’s training program for the Iraqi Army? Did they mean to use it as a convenient mechanism for delivering vehicles to the IS? Because that’s what it ended up being.

    I know we’re supposed to worship the military 24/7, but this was an astounding waste of time and resources.

    No Arab army has fought well since the days of TE Lawrence. Armies in the Arab Middle East are not intended to be actual armies fighting other armies, they’re intended to oppress their own citizens. Beating up on women and children, students and old men, is a lot easier than facing people who are shooting at you. The only way to motivate an Arab army is to have some tyrant’s secret police standing behind them.

    This entire mess is upon us because the Iraqi army collapsed, otherwise the IS is a Syrian problem. The IS isn’t 10 feet tall, but the Iraqi army is useless. Was the White House told this in advance? Has the Pentagon been honest about the state of the Iraqi Army after ten years of US “training?” Is it just possible that we have no idea how to train an Arab army? Shouldn’t we investigate that at some point? Or is the Pentagon just too sacrosanct?

  9. Modulo Myself says:

    Instead, he pointed a finger at Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, until recently the prime minister of Iraq. “When we left, we had left them a democracy that was intact, a military that was well equipped and the ability then to chart their own course,” Mr. Obama said.

    As bs goes, it’s impossible to top this.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Wow, that’s amazing predictive power. Did you also predict that by electing George W. Bush we’d suffer the worst terrorist attack in US history, then let the perpetrator escape, then fail to follow up against the real enemy because we were haring off after another war which we would then mismanage beyond all belief, and then suffer a catastrophic financial meltdown destroying trillions of dollars of wealth?

    Or did you kind of miss that prediction?

  11. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: The US military could have advised Obama that the Iraqi army couldn’t fight its way out of a paper bag, and come hell or high water, Obama was going to pull the military out when he did to keep a promise to his base.

  12. michael reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Nah, it’s easy to top: Mission Accomplished.

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Nice attempt to sidestep. The question is, what did they tell the White House. And why was their failure so massive and why is it now not being investigated?

  14. al-Ameda says:

    Go back a year – now tell me, how many western countries had accurately estimated the so-called power and ferocity of ISIS? I’m guessing it was a very short list?

    Again, we are living with the fall out of our disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003. Does anyone believe that if we did not take out Saddam Hussein, that ISIS would be operating in Iraq?

  15. wr says:

    Let me make sure I understand Doug corrrectly:

    When Bush ordered intelligence officials to fix the intel around the policy — essentially to invent evidence about Iraq — and the acted on that intelligence, Bush can’t be blamed because he was only following what the intelligence told him

    When Obama is briefed that Isis is no big deal and repeats that, it’s proof that he’s a terrible leader.

    Pretty much the point?

  16. Modulo Myself says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Obama is way too smart to believe what he said. Jury is still out on Bush, but not his supporters, such as Jack.

  17. Guarneri says:

    Sorry kids. The days when the empty suit could get away from stuff like this are gone.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2014/09/29/prominent-democrat-the-only-people-who-underestimated-isis-were-in-the-white-house/

  18. anjin-san says:

    @Jack:

    So what’s your answer? Endless occupation of Iraq, even if it is directly opposed to the wishes for their government? Endless trillions of US taxpayer dollars to Iraq, while American’s infrastructure crumbles?

  19. Tillman says:

    @Jack:

    The US military could have advised Obama that the Iraqi army couldn’t fight its way out of a paper bag, and come hell or high water, Obama was going to pull the military out when he did to keep a promise to his base.

    Yeah, he did a great job keeping that promise, what with all that lobbying to amend the SOFA to allow for a longer stay the Obama administration went through. Jesus, man, you’ve bought the administration’s own “face-saving with the base” reason as the truth.

  20. Tillman says:

    @Guarneri: I’d probably take that article more seriously if it wasn’t informed by the presumption that ISIS is “a critical threat” that needs redress from the United States. The warmonger’s perspective is always skewed. That our current politics takes it as given that we must do something about ISIS doesn’t make it true.

  21. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jack:

    and come hell or high water, Obama was going to pull the military out when he did to keep a promise to his base.

    “The U.S.–Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (official name: Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq) was a status of forces agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the United States, signed by President George W. Bush in 2008. It established that U.S. combat forces would withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009, and all U.S. forces will be completely out of Iraq by December 31, 2011.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S.%E2%80%93Iraq_Status_of_Forces_Agreement

  22. Jack says:

    Meanwhile, a white woman is beheaded by a black Islamist who was then stopped by a private citizen with a gun. I can hear media heads exploding.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @Tillman:

    We need some nuance in assessing threats. Almost nothing is an existential threat to the US, aside, maybe from Russian nukes or someone with a bio-weapon. At the opposite extreme we have things like trouble in Central America that sends kids to the US border – not so much a threat as an irritant.

    The IS is somewhere in between. It’s more than an irritant, less than an existential threat. We should do some things, but we shouldn’t freak out. The IS isn’t coming to impose Sharia law on Alabama. Worst case we see some disruption to the flow of oil and some terrorism.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:

    Drew, I’m sure you give similarly tough advice to your client Jimmy John, right? Because being caught stealing from your employees and at the same time managing to hand over all your customer’s data to hackers is kinda not a great example of management prowess. No doubt you’ve told Jimmy John he’s incompetent, an empty suit, a clown, and so on. Kind of sounds like he hires idiots. Right?

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders: @Jack:

    I believe that marks the thousandth time Jack has been told the facts. Jack does not do facts. Jack is programmed by Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh. He doesn’t so much say things as repeat things. He regurgitates. No amount of reality will have any effect on Jack. Jack is a box, closed on all sides, with a funnel at the top and a sphincter at the bottom. Into the funnel go whatever lies Mr. Ailes cares to invent on any given day, and from the sphincter come Jack’s comments here.

    Garbage In, Garbage Out.

  26. stonetools says:

    So Obama is being blamed by conservatives for the failure of the Iraqi army to fight and the Iraqi government to govern responsibly, although the Obama Administration have been calling for responsible Iraqi government from day one and have given the army plenty of training and equipment? Ridiculous.
    Are we now talking about the Green Lantern theory of international diplomacy where the US President can force allies to fight hard through sheer force of will?
    About all the US can do is give allies the tools. They have to do the job. Unfortunately, we have an unreliable ally-an unreliable ally who has a LOT of oil. It’s too bad we have to support them-but I bet that the OP and every conservative commenter is dead set against the only strategy we have to keep ourselves of the Middle East quagmire-a long term strategy to move to renewable energy. No let’s wringe our hands and take potshots at the President for the failings of another nation.

  27. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rafer Janders: So, then, Obama’s just BSing when he cited the withdrawal of troops from Iraq as an accomplishment and a promise kept? After all, you’re saying that it was all on Bush, and Obama had NOTHING to do with the move, as he had NO other options.

    He can’t have it both ways.

  28. Tillman says:

    @michael reynolds: Hot Air isn’t where I go for nuanced thinking. 🙂

    And I agree on where ISIS sits in terms of threat level, but that’s not the sort of discourse you’ll get from the media actors on any side in this. The grounded presumption is war, whether it goes by that name or not.

  29. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jack:

    Meanwhile, a white woman is beheaded by a black Islamist who was then stopped by a private citizen with a gun. I can hear media heads exploding.

    I’m curious why you thought the race of victim and perpetrator were needed?

  30. Jack says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I’m merely stating facts. Does the race of Mike Brown and Darren Wilson play a role in what is going on in Ferguson?

  31. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: Unlike you, who is simply a repository for Obama…um…er…shall we say output.

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    I appreciate your tacit acceptance of my description of you. Your description of me is mistaken, but I’m glad we’ve been able to find common ground on your limitations.

  33. anjin-san says:

    @Jack:

    Obama…um…er…shall we say output.

    I’m curious. Does a day go by when you don’t have sexual thoughts about Obama?

  34. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: I have not yet to describe you.

    You are a pretentious girly man, which is why Obama appeals to you…I bet you still have an Obama bumper sticker on your beta male car. I know, I know…Obama appeals to your effeminate nature. You are the epitome of effeminate queen. But I digress. The fact you write children’s books is akin to a guy in a van asking a child if they want a piece of candy. That you get paid to do is simply proof of the long slow downward trend that society has shown towards educating our youth and shows just how far we have fallen as a nation. Your liberal viewpoint is not fact it is simply vomiting stupidity on the internet.

    Perhaps you should keep expressing what you feel is obvious. The only thing obvious is your ignorance.

  35. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: Not a day goes by that I don’t believe you and other liberals would happily bend over for Obama’s donation. And then say “thank you sir, may have another!”

  36. Tyrell says:

    @Jack: Where’s Al ?

  37. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    your beta male car

    I drive a 2014 Mercedes Benz E-350 convertible. Black with tan interior in case you’re interested.

    You are the epitome of effeminate queen

    I hitchiked across country at age 15, dropped out of school at 16, got fake ID to get a job where I worked for six months and then took myself and a cashier named Connie to Europe for three months, got ripped off, ending up living under a bridge in Frankfurt for a week or so, coming back through customs with nothing but a book and a jar of peanut butter.

    And at age 16 you were doing what?

    Went on to be a burglar for a while, described by a judge as a ‘master criminal with an all girl gang” (true story) and did 11 days in county lock-up, went back on the road where I met my wife. We moved in together 24 hours after we met. I’ve fired guns, been in fights, used most of your major recreational drugs, take my Scotch neat and was at one point chased through the streets of Crocket California by Hells Angels and managed to outdrive them in my then girlfriend’s Toyota.

    As for writing kid’s books, I am writing two books a year and earn about a million, rough numbers. Plus my wife’s very nice income.

    I’m 6’2″, 230, and the word usually used to describe me is not “effeminate” but scary or intimidating. (Sometimes charming and funny.)

    Now, if I were effeminate I’d happily own that. I’m happy to be whatever I am.

  38. DonVito says:

    @Jack:

    i think you picked on the wrong guy… Plenty of things to argument about here and no need to get
    personal with ridiculous comments. I am curious though of how you deduced that Michael is effeminate.

  39. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: Yeah, Rupaul is 6’4″ according to Google, so you have good company in not being effeminate. You actually own a Chevy Volt because Obama told you to buy one to save GM and the only reason the bikers were after you was because they owned your ass. Admit it, the truth will set you free.

  40. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jack:

    Sorry, Michael, for jumping in on this but I really enjoy deconstructing text.

    You are a pretentious girly man

    I don’t think “pretentious” is quite the insult to Michael that you think it is. Calling him girly though–man, that’s gotta hurt.

    I bet you still have an Obama bumper sticker on your beta male car.

    Good point on this one. Most people are not very timely when removing old bumper stickers. I just bought a used truck with “Dole/Kemp” on it, so I know what you mean. I don’t really know how this is a bad thing. Lazy? Sure. Insulting? Not quite.

    Beta male…like…a test version of a male? Ok, sure.

    Obama appeals to your effeminate nature.

    There is one, and only one, commentor who has consistently posted about Obama’s genitals and defecation–you. I was kind of under the assumption your latent homosexual* tendencies were the reason why you were obsessed.

    You are the epitome of effeminate queen.

    Factually, he’s a married man with two (?) kids with no record of cross dressing (that I’m aware of). Given that human sexuality is a spectrum, I’m sure he has “queen” tendencies–as we all do–but I don’t think “epitome” is the correct word.

    But I digress.

    I’m not quite sure that word means what you think it means.

    The fact you write children’s books is akin to a guy in a van asking a child if they want a piece of candy.

    Good point. Can’t find anything logically wrong with that one.

    That you get paid to do is simply proof of the long slow downward trend that society has shown towards educating our youth and shows just how far we have fallen as a nation.

    You’re not a fan of people getting paid for their work? Are you more of a “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” type of guy?

    *While Jack may find it insulting, I want to it to be clear I do not think this is an insult.

  41. Jack says:

    @DonVito: Don, Misha attacks me…not my positions nearly every time I post. Turnabout is fair play.

  42. Jack says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Awww, Misha’s butch male is coming to his defense.

  43. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Jack:

    Ah, see there you go again. While I am 6’4 and 220 pounds, raised on a dairy and hog farm, and worked construction before finally going off to school, you’d be wrong to assume I’m butch. I’m actually very soft voiced and soft spoken, prefer conversation to physical confrontation, and I’ve long since lost the construction worker physique for an office worker spread. While “effeminate” might not be correct, butch is certainly out of the question.

    But thanks?

  44. Mikey says:

    @Neil Hudelson: “Beta male” is a term wanna-be tough guys throw out at men they deem not-masculine-enough. It’s meant to contrast with “alpha male.”

  45. michael reynolds says:
  46. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    It’s a shame you were not hanging around with the jocks I was running with in middle school, you would have fit right in. We thought queer jokes were just bitchin’. Of course we were 13 at the time, I’m not sure what your excuse is. We can only hope you are not as pathetic in real life as you are here.

  47. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “oming back through customs with nothing but a book and a jar of peanut butter.”

    What was the book?

  48. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    Childhood’s End. It took me 40 years before I realized, “Wait a minute, that’s a bit too spot-on, isn’t it?” I “borrowed” it from the Army library. Someday the Army Library Late Fee Enforcement Unit is going to get me.

  49. Dave Schuler says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Sometimes charming and funny.

    I would like to confirm that Michael is charming and funny in real life.

  50. michael reynolds says:
  51. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Way to many phallic images. You are just going to confuse Jack again.

    Also, no cigar bands? Please tell me you don’t have a private tobacconist.

  52. michael reynolds says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    And I will say that you are as intimidatingly intelligent in real life as in print. But that would surprise no one.

  53. John425 says:

    Here comes the #44 Presidential bus, Mr. Clapper. Get ready to be thrown under it.”

  54. michael reynolds says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    No, I got into the habit of taking the bands off because sometimes it’s three of the damn things, or like with the Macanudo 1997 they put a damned napkin ring on it. But for those who care, those would be Joya de Nicaragua (the two-tone) and probably Macanudo Golds.

    I haven’t like the Mac Golds as much this last year, I think they’re having an off year. The Macanudo 1997 are lovely cigars (not shown) and I’m liking the Davidoff Nicaraguan robustos, and still love the Joyas, but I have a short attention span so I try different stuff all the time. Thinking of trying some Punch.

  55. al-Ameda says:

    @Jack:

    The US military could have advised Obama that the Iraqi army couldn’t fight its way out of a paper bag, and come hell or high water, Obama was going to pull the military out when he did to keep a promise to his base.

    So, why did Bush negotiate a pull out date? And if Obama was going to leave Iraq to placate his voting base why then did he (Obama) ask al-Maliki if he would agree to an extended presence by American forces?

  56. Not Michael Reynolds says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Wow! Thirteen posts on just one thread – and they are all about you (surprise)!

    Doug needs a moderator before you drive everyone else away. Better yet, why not start your own blog so you can post about your favorite topics – you, you and you.

  57. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I consistently enjoy the Punch’s, but for almost all other Macanudo’s I find that I’m always surprised by what I get–and it’s not always a pleasant surprise.

    I bought one of the Davidoff Robusto’s this weekend to celebrate a new job. Not sure if it was Nicaraguan. It was mild to medium and very decent.

    I currently really enjoy a lot of the Rocky Patel lines–particularly their 1990s for an enjoyable but fairly economical cigar, and their platinums.

    A donor recently gave me a Trinidad Fundadores. I had no idea tobacco could ever be so good. Next time you are outside of the United States and can access Cuban goods, I highly recommend them.

  58. Rafer Janders says:

    So, Jack, did this attack on Michael go about as well as you expected it to? You the one standing tall now while Michael is grovelling in the dirt before you?

  59. Tillman says:

    Why, after reading this thread, do I suddenly feel a craving for cupcakes?

  60. michael reynolds says:

    @Not Michael Reynolds:
    Oh I’m an egomaniac, gotta plead guilty there dude. There’s probably a writer somewhere who isn’t but it ain’t me, babe. James has my email. He wants me to go away I will. I’m a guest here and if my host would like me to leave I will do so, with regret.

  61. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: I checked out a book from an Army library in 1987. My dog chewed it up. I never took it back.

    I still have the book, but the library from which I checked it out closed almost 20 years ago. They’ll never find me now!

  62. michael reynolds says:

    @Mikey:
    Of course now I can just give you up and cut a deal for immunity.

  63. Tyrell says:

    Today’s news: “ISIS Nears Syrian City: residents fear massacre” , President Obama: “We vastly underestimated ISIS” “Turkey Next?” ISIS: US can’t defeat us!”
    It is time the US turned things up a few notches, send in the big guns.

  64. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Jimmy and I have not had the pleasure of meeting, but I don’t recall him going on 60 Minutes and bald faced lying about matters of war for pure political ends. Perhaps your standards for the (snicker) Commander in Chief differ from mine.

  65. Guarneri says:

    @Tillman:

    It was the doobie.

  66. Guarneri says:

    @Not Michael Reynolds:

    Settle down NMR. MR is seldom correct but never in doubt. Consider it your amusement for the day.

    I’m too lazy to read the whole thread (I suspect I can guess already) but has it finally dawned on the Obama supporters that there are so many transcripts and film clips hitting the airwaves as to make Obama’s statement ludicrous on its face, if not evidence of personality disorder?

  67. Guarneri says:

    Oh, and NMR, don’t forget, you are a racist.

  68. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    You’re right: he just steals from his employees and abets computer criminals. And hires you.

  69. Matt says:

    You guys got trolled hard by Jack. The only people that care about beta males are trolls or people who wish they were “alpha”…

    Based on the rest of the post I’m sure it’s the troll thing…

  70. C. Clavin says:

    I’m reminded of Cheney…who pretends 9.11 never happened…in spite of the warnings.
    And oh yeah…Bush blamed the intelligence community for his Iraq blunder too…after him and Cheney cooked the intelligence.
    This is on par with the latte salute.

  71. steve says:

    Matt beat me to it. Jack is a troll so stop feeding him. His MO is personal attacks abetted by talking points so old even Fox geezers would be ashamed to trot them out.

    Steve

  72. Grewgills says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Given that Obama attempted to negotiate a longer stay for US troops I would count it as a promise reluctantly kept. If Maliki hadn’t insisted on provisions on a SOFA extension that no US president would accept we probably would have had more troops in longer and that would be a broken Obama promise. As it stands it’s not a broken promise, but not much of an accomplishment on his part and not something I give him much credit for.

  73. Tillman says:

    @steve:

    Jack is a troll so stop feeding him. His MO is personal attacks abetted by talking points so old even Fox geezers would be ashamed to trot them out.

    Those statements describe something like twenty-five percent of the people here. Personal attacks + talking points = the baseline OTB commenter. Poe’s Law has made it impossible to guess who’s trolling on this site anymore. I mean, you only distinguish yourself from the baseline by how artfully you make your personal attacks and talking points.

  74. Tillman says:

    @Guarneri: The preferred nomenclature is blunt.

  75. michael reynolds says:

    @Matt:

    I don’t think so. Jack’s emotionally invested. A true troll is not.

  76. bill says:

    @anjin-san: and we didn’t go into iraq without those democrats votes, some are still around but just can’t seem to remember that fact.
    maybe obama expected another soft interview and wasn’t prepared to really answer any “tough” questions….like they’re really were any? so he threw “intelligence” under the bus and “forgot” about the “jv team” nonsense- he’s really just phoning it in i guess.

  77. anjin-san says:

    @ bill

    You will have to run that thru the “babble to English” translator…

  78. stonetools says:

    I’m hoping that Jack’s ridiculous d!ck measuring attempt is over. Now, for a book recommendation. I’m reading Lawrence in Arabia, an account of TE Lawrence’s actions in the Middle East during WW1. Let it be noted that Lawrence was a small, slim, Oxford educated Englishman who yes, might have been gay (although the book says this is unproven). Sounds like Jack would conclude this is a girly man.
    Yet Lawrence was able to :

    1. travel to a region where Christian foreigners were forbidden,
    2. win the trust of the Arab leaders
    3. lead a sucessful Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire.

    So, let’s hear it for the girly men.
    Another book recomendation : a Poul Anderson SF Novella called “The Man Who Counts” in which another unheroic hero wins the trust of an aliens race and leads a Lawrence of Arabia style military campaign in alliance with the traditionally heroic protagonist.

    Further note: the ME in 1914 was just as f**ked up a witches’ brew of ethnic and religous interests as it was today, except without the yet to be discovered Arabian oil.

    Now back to the d!ck measuring.

  79. Barry says:

    @Jack: “A lot of Conservatives predicted way back when that electing Obama would lead to a situation something like the one we have today.”

    You mean that they said that Obama would not competently clean up the Republicans’ mess?

  80. Barry says:

    @Modulo Myself: “As bs goes, it’s impossible to top this.”

    Actually, that’s true. The Shiites running the Iraqi government f*cked this up quite deliberately, screwing the Sunnis over and assuming that the Sunnis had no options.

  81. Barry says:

    @Jack: “…and come hell or high water, Obama was going to pull the military out when he did to keep a promise to his base.”

    At this point you’ve moved from opinion to flat-out lying. The treaty requiring US forces to leave was signed by George ‘Avatar of Christ on Earth’ Dubya Bush in 2008, and was presumably the best that the US government was capable of obtaining.

    US forces had killed hundreds of thousands of people (directly or indirectly) in Iraq, and the Iraqi people wanted us out, big-time.

  82. Barry says:

    @Guarneri: Hot Air as a source?

  83. Robin Cohen says:

    One of the key characteristics of Obama’s personality has always been his supposed intelligence. Watching him weave and bobble around in his job I have often wondered if it is intelligence or fancy footwork. Time for a serious thinker in the WH but, other than Jon Huntsman. there is no viable option.

  84. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: I’m already in Witness Protection because I turned in the guy who made off with the 48 cassette tape audio version of “Lord of the Rings,” sung in its entirety by Tom Bombadil.

  85. Grewgills says:

    @Mikey:
    So, you’re the one that ratted me out. BASTARD!

  86. bill says:

    @anjin-san: ok, i’ll “anjin” it down for you.
    – the iraq war was approved by many of your heroes in the house/senate- they actually got to vote for it and did vote “for” it. to summarize, they voted “yes” for the war in iraq…before they were against it.
    -obama may not be taking any of this seriously as he deflects knowledge of isis and their power and then points the finger at the intelligence community for understating such. walter mitty would blush at this nonsense, but not you deniers.
    @Barry: um yeah, he knew it was there when he ran for president. do you pity nixon for having to clean up johnsons mess in viet nam?