Denis McDonough made the Sunday talk show rounds and sounded confident about the president’s strategy to defeat ISIS. It seemed his major purpose for his appearances was to cajole Congress into giving Obama authorization to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in order to prevent the need to send US troops into Syria. From The Hill:
“Everybody believes there has to be someone on the ground, some ground force, taking the fight to [ISIS]. So if it’s not the Syrian opposition, trained and equipped by the United States, authorized by Congress and the president, if Congress takes the step this week, then it’ll have to be U.S. troops,” McDonough said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The president made a decision on that. We’re not going to do that.”
“The ground forces in Syria will be Syrian opposition ground forces. That’s why it’s so important for Congress to enact that effort this week,” he added.
This contradicts what the president said in his primetime address just four days ago when he said he had the authority to address the threat from ISIL:
My administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL. But I believe we are strongest as a nation when the president and Congress work together. So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.
Shortly after seeing McDonough on FoxNews, I saw CBS’s Face The Nation interview with Sec. Kerry which was recorded Saturday in Cairo (my emphasis):
Asked if he received specific commitments for military help, such as deploying ground troops, Kerry said, “Well we’re not looking to put troops on the ground. There are some who have offered to do so, but we are not looking for that at this moment anyway.”
Some countries, Kerry added, have said they are prepared to launch airstrikes in coordination with the U.S., but Kerry said it’s “not appropriate” to start announcing each country’s plan.
Huh, say again? I thought the whole purpose of his trip was to garner international support, especially amongst the Arab nations, so we didn’t need our troops on the ground. That’s their stated strategy or so I thought.
Or course this entire administration can’t even get on the same page on calling it a war or not or just a major counterintelligence operation.
Someone today said Jordan has offered to start fighting ISIS with their troops on the ground, in Syria, but the White House said don’t start yet. What the heck are they waiting for while ISIS is on overdrive?
There is no need to authorize additional funds since the Pentagon already has some $60B in an OCO fund (Overseas Contingency Fund) for exactly the purpose of the Whac-A-Mole strategy outlined by the Commander in Chief this past June.
I believe Congress should debate this strategy carefully before giving the additional Title 10 authority to an administration that is anything but clear on its strategy. Pass the CR separately, then debate the merits of his war request.
I have to say, I’m definitely leaning toward RMJ’s no war on this president’s watch, given the utter confusion and contradictions they make daily. Get Ready, Get Set, Don’t Go!