Secretary of State John Kerry delivered one of the clumsiest versions of the administration’s “Terrorist massacres prove ISIS is desperate” spin on Wednesday, saying of the Istanbul airport bombing:
Now, yes, you can bomb an airport, you can blow yourself up. That’s the tragedy. Daesh and others like it know that we have to get it right 24/7/365. They have to get it right for ten minutes or one hour. So it’s a very different scale. And if you’re desperate and if you know you’re losing, and you know you want to give up your life, then obviously you can do some harm.
House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX) slammed John Kerry’s comments in a Fox News interview.
“This is an unprecedented pace of terror in modern times, so to say they’re on the run absolutely defies reality,” said McCaul. “I was just in Cairo in Egypt and up in the Sinai Province, where ISIS is very heavy – Tunisia, Libya. They’re expanding beyond the caliphate now into northern Africa, so they’re not on the run, they’re on the rise.”
“They said they’re on the run for many years, and they’re not,” McCaul said of the administration’s spin on the Islamic State.
He noted that ISIS called for terrorist attacks during the Ramadan holiday season and that these attacks are coming on the second anniversary of the Islamic States’s “caliphate.”
McCaul contrasted the administration’s slow-paced, reactive ISIS strategy to past military operations:
I know John Kerry boasts about all the success we’ve been having over there. The fact is, they’ve waited three and a half years to do anything, to take any sort of military action. I was in the Persian Gulf on an aircraft carrier watching F-18s going into Iraq and Syria, but we need to ramp this up.
I remember when Reagan was asked about Grenada. He said, “well, whatever you recommend, double that, because I want to win and get out.”
And the fact is we haven’t done that here. We’ve waited, and delay is not our friend. Delay is our enemy, and this president and John Kerry and the Administration have delayed far too much.
McCaul also had some criticism for Kerry’s predecessor as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton: “She’s the architect of this foreign policy that has led to the creation of ISIS. I think that’s a very important point to make. It led to this Arab spring that became a winter, where Benghazi occurred.”
Another objectionable element of Kerry’s remarks was his contention that “Daesh and others like it know that we have to get it right 24/7/365. They have to get it right for ten minutes or one hour.”
He was making an essentially valid point about the difficulty of playing defense against asymmetrical warfare — but it is also a powerful argument against the strategy the Obama administration has been pursuing. Instead of getting it right 24/7/365 for years on end, giving ISIS endless opportunities to strike, the enemy should be finished off quickly and aggressively in such a strategic situation.
Also, Kerry is greatly underselling how long it takes for terrorists to pull off an attack, even giving him leeway to exaggerate for effect. The administration loves its false narrative about “lone wolf” jihadis radicalizing overnight and pulling off spontaneous attacks no one could have predicted.
In truth, the “lone wolves” have more connections than the administration wants to admit, the radicalization process is much more extensive than they portray it, and the attacks involve a good deal of planning — based on the information made public thus far, even Orlando terrorist Omar Mateen made preparations for his attack in advance.
Thankfully, American counterterrorist forces have stopped a great many terrorist plots in the planning stage — a rather disturbing number of them, actually, and there are surely some operations that haven’t been revealed to the public. This administration needs to do a lot better than concocting political spin to portray expanding terrorist operations across the world as a sign of desperation.