Some of America’s most decorated generals and a former intelligence official of the highest rank declared this week that the Obama Administration has no clear, overarching plan for how to win our various Middle East conflicts. As The Washington Post reports:
Without a clear strategy from the White House and the return of a robust defense budget, the United States is set for failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, argued former generals James Mattis and John Keane, as well as former admiral William Fallon in congressional testimony Tuesday.The United States “needs to come out from our reactive crouch and take a firm strategic stance in defense of our values,” Mattis, a former commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Mattis also made a point we’ve raised before: Congress needs to play a larger role in constructively shaping foreign policy. Mattis pointed to ending sequestration; more hearings like this, with informed questioning, would also help.But there is no doubt that at the end of the day, foreign policy leadership is the Executive’s responsibility, and on that front, it’s not only the generals and admirals who went before Congress who are worried. Former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (and Obama appointee) Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn laid into the Administration’s approach to Islamic extremism in a speech on Monday that received “cheers” and “a standing ovation” from assembled intelligence professionals. The Daily Beast reports:
He said the administration is unwilling to admit the scope of the problem, naively clinging to the hope that limited counterterrorist intervention will head off the ideological juggernaut of religious militancy.“There are many sincere people in our government who frankly are paralyzed by this complexity,” said Flynn, so they “accept a defensive posture, reasoning that passivity is less likely to provoke our enemies.”
As the nation approaches the next Presidential election and the end of President Obama’s time in office, a few things seem clear. Firstly, whether the next President is a Democrat or a Republican, he or she is likely to be to the right of President Obama on national security issues. Secondly, the nation—and clearly, its military and intelligence professionals—is eager to hear its leaders articulate a clear and sensible policy for confronting the growing dangers abroad, including but not limited to Islamic extremism in the Middle East.Those candidates who can fulfill the second need will greatly increase their chances of holding the Presidency.