Some future Thucydides will surely point to the Aug. 28, 2014 declaration by President Obama that, "We don't have a strategy yet," as some sort of significant point in the long war of the West against Islamist extremism. A low point? The beginning of the end? The collapse of coherence? Who knows. But to not have strategy for a war with Islamist extremism 13 years into it is, well, what we lawyers call "an admission against interest."
"Islamist extremism" is what British Prime Minister David Cameron announced as the common enemy the day after his lassitudinous counterpart in the tan suit across the Atlantic meandered from topic to topic. And Cameron said far more about *ISIS. He bluntly declared the enemy did not arise as a consequence of the Iraq War, that it existed even before the Sept. 11 attacks, that it was not the product of poverty, and was "not some foreign conflict thousands of miles away that we can hope to ignore." Focused and specific — everything Obama was not — Cameron went on to lay out Great Britain's strategy.
That future historian will have to say that 13 years after the awful opening assault of the war on Sep. 11, 2001, the United States and thus the West as a whole was spectacularly unlucky or unbelievably capricious in its choice of first among the leaders of the West. For in Obama the strongest country is captained by a singularly oblivious and detached commander in chief who apparently does not possess either the skills or the inclination to learn even the basics of the global struggle in which his country is engaged and of which it is supposed to be the leader of the good guys. President Obama mistakes ISIS as the "jayvees," and thinks a leisurely vacation complete with yet another round immediately following a ritual denunciation of a ritual slaughter of an American consistent with developing that missing strategy.
President George W. Bush had a strategy: Keep the "evil-doers" on the run, and attack them wherever and whenever they gathered. Bush even had a doctrine: Any nation state that harbored terrorists and could equip them with WMD was open to attack from the American military. Thus was Iraq invaded and under such a threat did Libya disarm itself of its WMD and Iran halt its nuclear program — for a time. That was a strategy.
Obama and the Democrats rejected that strategy, worked tirelessly to undermine it, demanded show trial after show trial to try and pin the Sept. 11 attacks on Bush and all the ills of the world on the failures of the Iraq War. Benghazi, Egypt's turn to now deposed President Mohammed Morsi, a brutal Syrian civil war, the rise of ISIS as well as a never-defeated Taliban, and a growing Islamist insurgency in Pakistan, disproved every bit of the Democrats’ thesis.
Having been "defeated in detail" by the facts makes no difference to the party for which control of domestic spending and regularity authority through political power is the sole objective. Unlike Bush and Cameron, for Democrats the threat is indeed just a "foreign conflict, thousands of miles away," into which an unfortunate few Americans have been drawn and for which a hashtag strategy is sufficient.
An accounting looms for the feckless Democrats and the president. Three Republicans are nearly guaranteed to replace retiring Senate Democrats in the states of Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia.
Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy is favored over Obama-burdened incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana. And Democrats also face tough races in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina. GOP challengers cannot be written off in Michigan, Minnesota, or Oregon, either.
The response of the Democratic Party strategists (not those in charge of the war, who don't have a plan, but those in charge of the elections, who do) is, well, shocking. A front page story in Sunday’s New York Times suggested that Democrats latest gambit to preserve the Senate is, “trying to mobilize African-Americans outraged by the shooting in Ferguson, Mo.”
There it is. With the world in meltdown and a crisis with ISIS facing it, with Russia invading Ukraine and China pressing all of its neighbors, Obamacare a fiasco from start to finish, and an economy that refuses to run without massive intervention from the Fed, the president and his team are going to play the race card from now until November.
Days before an unlucky anniversary of one of the worst days in American history, this is where we are. We don't have a strategy. What we do have is the worst president in the Republic's history.Hugh Hewitt is a nationally syndicated talk radio host, law professor at Chapman University's Fowler School of Law, and author, most recently of The Happiest Life. He posts daily at HughHewitt.com and is on Twitter @hughhewitt.