Obama’s visit to the Pentagon Monday, his first in three years, is admittedly savvy political maneuvering by a president intent on securing his legacy before campaign season begins in earnest. Making a show of force before heading off on vacation, Obama ascended Olympus not as a supplicant, but rather Zeus overlooking his many, many ongoing operations abroad. The grandstanding, however, fell flat.
In the face of unfailing criticism of the president’s strategy (or lack thereof) regarding ISIS, this piece of showmanship only served to reinforce that the president’s actions in the Middle East continue to flounder in the cesspool of confused strategy. So he can strut into the building as commander-in-chief and lead the charge, but like most who charge, paying the bill will most likely be left for another day.
With an unusually high turnover of top commanders occurring this summer, the Pentagon faces an interesting and rocky road over the upcoming months. Defense Secretary Ash Carter (also relatively new) is already against the ropes this week after disclosing that a $500 million program meant to train Syrian soldiers has only produced 60 candidates this year. Yesterday, Senator John McCain, said, “Our means and our current level of effort are not aligned with our ends. That suggests we are not winning, and when you are not winning in war, you are losing.” McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has long been vociferously critical of the president’s decisions regarding ISIS—and while he’s wrong that more of anything will change things, he’s not wrong in calling out Obama for commanding a disaster.
Everyday the chairman or vice chairman or another key uniformed adviser of the Joint Chiefs visits the White House. And there are military people galore assigned to the White House and National Security staff. So the question isn’t why the president took three years to make an appearance, it’s why he chose to go at all? Is he seeking to solidify his standing as Commander in Chief? After the round of airstrikes that occurred in Syria and Iraq last week, is he taking stock or making some argument? Fighting over Russia? War with Iran?
[Image via Getty.]