On September 10, the world watched as President Obama outlined his plan to address the rising threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIL). Unfortunately, his speech was simply too little, too late. While the president used a lot of the right words, they did not compensate for his failure to lead in a way that strengthens the United States, inspires confidence in our allies, and instills dread and fear in our enemies.
In his address, President Obama pointed to American military capabilities which in recent memory took out Osama Bin Laden and successfully carried out more than 150 airstrikes in Iraq to combat ISIL. He stressed his ultimate objective: to “degrade and destroy ISIL.” Yet, the President has simultaneously degraded and shrunk American military capabilities despite knowledge of the growing threat presented by ISIL. Under the FY15 budget, the size of the U.S. Army is on track to drop from 490,000 troops to 440,000-450,000. Furthermore, national defense spending is set to fall to the lowest rate of GDP since the post-World War II era. While the President assured us during his speech that “America is safer” today than in the past despite the growing evils in the world and the rise of terrorist threats; this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The National Defense Panel, a bipartisan group appointed by the Pentagon and Congress, recently reviewed the Obama Administration’s Department of Defense 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which provides strategic objectives and assesses possible military threats. The Panel was clear in its review: downsizing the U.S. Armed forces is a “serious strategic misstep on the part of the United States.” The Panel concluded that, “Unless reversed, these shortfalls will lead to a high-risk force in the near future. That in turn will lead to an America that is not only less secure, but also far less prosperous. In this sense, these cuts are ultimately self-defeating.”
By every measure, the environment President Obama has created has led to a less safe and less prosperous nation. He has weakened America economically, diplomatically, and militarily. He has saddled us with unsustainable national debt, with a stagnant economy minus real job or income growth, with massive expansion of the federal government–particularly through ObamaCare and a labyrinth of anti-business, anti-growth, anti-liberty regulations. He has allowed our borders to become more porous and unsecure. He has decimated our military. Our enemies have the comfort of knowing that, for as long as he is president, America is a paper tiger without the will to use our power.
Unfortunately, President Obama’s desire to end, not win wars, created the environment for ISIL to gain ground in both Iraq and Syria. He knew of a gathering threat for two years and took no action–a shocking dereliction of duty. Earlier this year he referred to ISIS as a “JV team,” and his September 10 speech shows that he still lacks the willingness to admit that radical, jihadist Islam is a direct threat to the United States.
This week, Congress will vote on whether to authorize the President’s request of $500 million in funding to help train and arm moderate Syrian opposition forces against ISIL. I have long opposed arming the Syrian opposition out of the fear that these weapons will fall into the hands of Islamic radicals, such as ISIL. Rather than supporting relatively unknown opposition groups in Syria to battle the forces of the so-called “Islamic State,” we must instead turn to our long-standing allies, the Kurds, who have shown repeatedly over the last several weeks that they have the capacity and the will to stand up to ISIL. With our support, the Kurdish Peshmerga, together with the Iraqi Security Forces, will be able to successfully annihilate the evil forces of ISIL.
President Obama has a Constitutionally-sworn duty to defend the United States from every enemy, foreign and domestic. He can silence every critic, disprove every conspiracy theorist, and elevate his place in history by choosing to take decisive action to militarily defeat ISIL and the larger Islamic jihadist movement once and for all.