Barack Obama is fighting a losing battle to defend his foreign policy—and the latest blow has come from inside his own cabinet.

Today, new Defense Secretary Ash Carter went on the record as a critic of the three year plan to defeat ISIS contained in President Obama’s request for use of continued military force in the Middle East.

“I wouldn’t assure anyone that this will be over in three years or that the campaign will be completed in three years,” Carter said, before admitting that he understands why that sort of timeline was included in the request.

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He said the three-year sunset “is not something that I would have deduced from the Department of Defense’s necessities, the campaign’s necessities, or our obligation to the troops.”

He added: “I think it has to do with the political calendar in our country. I understand that. That’s a constitutional issue wherein the executive branch and the legislative branch share responsibility for the conduct of military operations.”

Carter recently took the helm of the Defense Department, replacing Chuck Hagel whose tenure was marked by disagreements with the Obama administration.

While Congress is weighing the request for military authorization, the president already has launched airstrikes and other military actions in Iraq and Syria. The White House nevertheless committed to putting the issue to a vote.

Asked Wednesday if he thinks additional U.S. troops will be needed in Iraq, or whether U.S. troops would be introduced in Syria, Carter left the door open.

“That is a question that will hinge upon what is required for success there,” he said.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a DefSec push back against the aspirational foreign policy goals of the Obama Administration. Before he was sloppily deposed, Chuck Hagel went on the record several times with information that contradicted the Administration’s talking points about ISIS, Syria, and the continuing regional conflicts in the Middle East. Hagel refused to downplay the threat that ISIS poses to the international community, and both he and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey remained publicly at odds with the Administration over pledges to keep US troops out of combat.

Carter is now in the same boat, but he’s taken it a step further by criticizing the one provision in President Obama’s request that served to ease the fears raised by yet another foray into Middle Eastern conflict.

Obama is quickly losing control of any remaining influence he has on the international stage, and it’s not the fault of Carter, or Netanyahu, or any other Choose Your Own Fall Guy©; but if there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few weeks, it’s that control is the one thing this Administration thrives on. It doesn’t matter if we’re looking at good plans, bad plans, or no plan at all, as long as they are the ones with control over the direction of the speeding train.

Carter has done more here than challenge a talking point; what he’s done is shine light on the non-strategy used by the Administration to cook up this authorization. Their choices had nothing to do with the needs of the mission, but everything to do with what would make Obama look good before an increasingly hostile audience.