When asked why President Barack Obama insisted on pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said: "I think that the pursuit of the agreement is based on the President's hope that over a 10-year period with the sanctions being lifted that the Iranians will become a constructive stakeholder in the international community. That — that as their economy begins to grow again, that — that they will abandon their ideology, their theology, their revolutionary principles, their meddling in various parts of the region. And, frankly, I believe that's very unrealistic."
The very morning of the Paris attacks, Obama called ISIS/ISIL "contained." And hours before last month's al-Qaida-claimed hotel attacks in the capital of Mali, Africa, which killed 20, Secretary of State John Kerry pronounced al-Qaida "neutralized."
Even after the Paris attacks, Obama summoned only enough indignation to describe the attacks as a "setback." Meanwhile, the equally leftist, equally anti-war French president Francois Hollande called the attacks an "act of war," and promised, "France, because it was foully, disgracefully and violently attacked, will be unforgiving with the barbarians from Daesh (ISIS)."
Just as he did following the deadly attack at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic, Obama, after the radicalized Islamic-inspired terror attacks in San Bernardino, California, called for more gun control. He also urged Congress to pass laws preventing those whose names appear on a no-fly list from acquiring firearms, as well as other "common sense" measures.
Never mind that California, where the two radical Islamists murdered 14 and wounded 21, long ago imposed "common sense" measures, including the closure of the so-called "gun-show loophole," restrictions on the purchase of certain assault and assault-style weapons, limits on handgun purchases to one per month per person and a 10-day waiting period prior to the sale or transfer of a firearm.
The New York Times echoed Obama by running its first front-page editorial since 1920. Did the Times call for U.S. ground troops in the Middle East, a measure that polls now show a majority American support? Did the editorial demand imposing a no-fly zone in Syria? Or demand changing the rules of engagement to loosen the concern of "collateral damage" — which many military experts believe severely hampers us from defeating ISIS? Did the Times ask Obama rethink the plan to bring in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees? (After all, the Pakistani-born San Bernardino killer/mother immigrant had supposedly been vetted. And as to Obama's assurance that Syrian refugee mothers and their children pose no threat, Tashfeen Malik left behind her 6-month-old daughter as she and her husband left the house to go on a murder spree.)
No, the Times, in its first front-page editorial in almost 100 years, demanded more control laws. Goodness, if it's that simple, why not just demand that Iraq and Syria enact "common sense" gun-control laws, thereby putting ISIS out of the war business? No weapons, no war.
Polls show that most Americans either believe President Obama has no idea how to combat ISIS, or feel that the terror group is gaining strength. That assessment was corroborated by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who, days after the Paris attacks, told Congress, "We have not contained ISIL (ISIS)."
Due to mounting criticism, Obama gave a rare, televised Oval Office Sunday night speech designed to assure the nation that everything that can be done is being done, and that ISIS' days are numbered. But he announced no new initiatives, gave no hint of possibly committing combat troops.
Obama and his would-be successor, Hillary Clinton, focus more anger at Republicans than at the terrorists. After the Paris attacks, Obama scolded Republicans for wanting restrictions on Syrian refugees. And Clinton compared Republicans seeking to defund Planned Parenthood to "terrorist groups." She likened NRA supporters to "Iranians or the communists."
Obama is the same commander in chief who failed to negotiate a stable force in Iraq; who pulled out all the troops in Iraq over the objections of his then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, his Secretary of State Clinton and his former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey; who once called ISIS a "JV team"; and who, again, the morning of the Paris attacks, called ISIS "contained." But Obama now claims to have adopted the right strategy to defeat a terror group even as he still refuses to utter the phrase "radical Islam."
Some argued that future historians would rehabilitate the reputation of George W. Bush, who left office as one of our most unpopular presidents. Well, the future is now. A June 2015 Gallup poll found that the number of Americans who call the Iraq War a "mistake" declined from 57 percent in 2014 to 51 percent a year later. And this was before the attacks in Paris, Mali, Lebanon and San Bernardino, all of which occurred in a span of three weeks.
But those angry at President Obama for his limp Sunday address should stand down. After all, when was the last time Obama gave a major national security speech without mentioning "climate change"?
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Photo credit: Republic of Korea