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Opinion: Morning Examiner

Is the Obama crew smart enough to defeat ISIS?

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Mark Tapscott,Morning Examiner,Barack Obama,Iraq War,Syria,Terrorism,Middle East,Ben Rhodes,ISIS

American outrage over the gruesome murder of journalist James Foley has prompted the appearance of a reversal of President Obama's "leading from behind" foreign policy strategy, especially in the Middle East.

For months before, as ISIS rolled out of Syria and across Iraq, leaving a trail of horror in its wake all the way near Baghdad, Obama seemed content to leave the Iraqis to their fate.

He made new U.S. assistance, for example, contingent on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's agreement to step aside in favor of a more inclusive government with support from Shias, Sunnis, Christians and Kurds.

ISIS threatens America

But the Foley murder and accompanying threats by ISIS leaders that the American homeland is not safe has forced Obama to confront the problem head on, rather than relying on others to do what needs to be done.

The current campaign of airstrikes is a temporary band-aid designed to gain time for U.S. leaders to come up with a comprehensive, long-term military and political strategy for defeating ISIS.

There is no doubt the U.S. has the military strength to defeat ISIS, even if, as the Washington Post reported Sunday, just developing needed intelligence and other assets in Iraq and Syria will take time. A lot of bad things can happen during that time.

Is Obama crew smart or tough enough?

The bigger issue, however is whether Obama and his chief advisers are smart enough and tough enough to defeat ISIS. That's doubtful if a weekend observation by Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser is indicative of the administration's approach.

U.S. officials will "monitor very closely whether or not [ISIS] will seek to develop plots that are aimed at the West, aimed at beyond this geographic area where they have been operating,” Rhodes said during a White House briefing.

“If they show the intent or they show plotting against the United States, we'll be prepared to deal with that as necessary,” he said.

They already have, Ben

It's unlikely ISIS would make lethal threats about being in New York without already having begun planning such operations.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, believes ISIS has such "external operations" underway now.

And there are two gaping holes in U.S. defenses that the asymmetric war ISIS would most likely mount is ideally designed to exploit: The extremely porous border with Mexico and the hundreds, if not thousands, of ISIS fighters who have U.S. or European passports that enable them to enter this country without hindrance.

Those two facts alone mean that, if the Obama administration is waiting to see if "they show the intent," America may already be in much more trouble from ISIS than we know or are prepared to counter.

On today's washingtonexaminer.com

Monday's Editorial: Democrats' fortunes go down as Obamacare drives health insurance premium costs up.

Sunday's Editorial: Congress passes laws for a reason and Obama must obey them.

Columnists/Hugh Hewitt: GOP needs to be ready for Democrats' election lawfare.

Columnists/James Jay Carafano: Defining a real Russia strategy should be Obama's vacation assignment.

Columnists/Michael Barone: A decent lawyer should tell liberals they're damn fools and ought to stop.

Columnists/Star Parker: We can avoid more Fergusons.

PennAve/Susan Crabtree: Experts say Obama should lay out clear goals for Iraqi reform.

PennAve/David N. Drucker: Top Democratic data firm innovates as GOP plays catch-up.

PennAve/Joseph Lawler: In New Jersey Senate race, echoes of Ron Paul.

PennAve/Brian Hughes: Five questions facing Obama as his vacation ends.

Video Morning Examiner: Morning Examiner with Steve Doty for Aug. 25.

In other news

The Washington Post: Systems to track cellphone users' locations around the globe are easily obtainable.

The New York Times: Medicare's star ratings allow nursing homes to game the system.

CBS News: Is it time to rethink U.S. policy toward hostage ransoms?

Righty Playbook

The Weekly Standard: When it comes to dealing with Congress, Obama would prefer not to.

National Review Online: Destroy the Islamic State.

The American Spectator: Louvain, ISIS and evil.

Bonus must-read

The Federalist: 12 things you need to know about government unions.

Lefty Playbook

The New Republic: If you thought the mortgage crisis was over, it's about to flare up again.

The Daily Beast: Syrian rebels say U.S. airstrikes will never stop ISIS.

Salon: Obama posed as a progressive but turned out to be a counterfeit.

Bonus must-read

Mother Jones: The 10 worst congressional acronyms ever.

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