Monday, June 16, 2014

Can you get a F for a commencement speech?

Barack Obama laying out his policy for global terrorism at West Point just under 3 weeks ago --

And the need for a new strategy reflects the fact that today’s principal threat no longer comes from a centralized al Qaeda leadership. Instead, it comes from decentralized al Qaeda affiliates and extremists, many with agendas focused in countries where they operate. And this lessens the possibility of large-scale 9/11-style attacks against the homeland, but it heightens the danger of U.S. personnel overseas being attacked, as we saw in Benghazi. It heightens the danger to less defensible targets, as we saw in a shopping mall in Nairobi. So we have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat -- one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin, or stir up local resentments. We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us. And empowering partners is a large part of what we have done and what we are currently doing in Afghanistan.

1. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is not al Qaeda affiliate.
2. There are no US personnel (that we know of) in areas under ISIL control.
3. ISIL is not a diffuse threat: it has specific territory that it wants to hold.
4. ISIL operates in 2 countries and it wants to create a new country, so it's not clear what the significance of the clause "countries where they operate" is.
5. ISIL hasn't attacked "less defensible targets" -- it has attacked the Iraqi army head-on.
6. The locals in the areas it has acquired resented the Iraqi government more than ISIL.
7. The US partner in attacking ISIL would be ... the Iraqi government.

But other than that, it was a perfectly good speech.