President Obama has come under fire not only from voters but from Congressmen and members of the media over his strategy—or lack thereof—to roll back ISIS in the Middle East.

The U.S. has already escalated involvement in the region by initiating air strikes as part of a joint U.S.-Arab offensive against ISIS strongholds:

The U.S. and five Arab nations attacked the Islamic State group’s headquarters in eastern Syria in nighttime raids Monday using land- and sea-based U.S. aircraft as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from two Navy ships in the Red Sea and the northern Persian Gulf.

American warplanes also carried out eight airstrikes to disrupt what the military described as “imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests” by a network of al-Qaida veterans “with significant explosives skills,” said Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

If what Dempsey says is true (and as blunt as he has been in his testimony and media hits, I tend to trust the veracity of what he’s saying,) these missions are a necessary part of protecting American interests both in the Middle East and on U.S. soil. What isn’t clear yet is how far Barack Obama will take these missions; he’s declared time and again that he won’t put boots back on the ground, but military officials and analysts are already asking questions about the possibility of doing so if airstrikes aren’t sufficient to eradicate the ISIS network.

One theory that pundits and academics are floating is troubling, but what’s more troubling than the theory itself is its plausibility. Brit Hume laid it out on Monday’s edition of Special Report with Bret Baier:

There is an intellectually respectable case to be made that the United States should do nothing, or next to nothing, to destroy the terrorist force known as ISIS. It goes something like this:

I don’t buy this whole argument, but I sense that President Obama does, and would have preferred to take no action against ISIS beyond some air strikes in Iraq. But he felt his hand was forced by the public’s outrage and alarm over those videotaped beheadings. So he came up with a strategy for ISIS’s eventual defeat, which is designed not to succeed so much as to fail slowly in a mission he doubts should even be undertaken.

We know that Obama doesn’t want to be in the Middle East because he ignored the best advice of his military advisers when he pulled our troops out of Iraq. He decided unilaterally that leaving a “footprint” in the region was an unacceptable option. He chose to support the Assad regime in Syria, which escalated tension in the region.

More importantly, he knows that right now the only thing saving his foreign policy approval rating from bottoming out is the current show of force against ISIS, and that he needs to drag this out until something happens that will allow Democrats to reclaim the “strength through diplomacy” narrative that recent events have torn to pieces. All he has to do to make this happen is the bare minimum; and even if the situation devolves, he can still claim that Bush (BUSH! BUSH!) left him with the impossible task of gluing the Middle East back together.

For this president, achieving the bare minimum at the expense of our international presence may be the only strategy he’s capable of.

You can check out the full transcript here, via Truth Revolt.


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