Obama Warns of "Overreach" in Middle East

President Obama released a 29 page security plan to Congress today and said we must be careful not to overreach in the Middle East.

The United States cannot try to "dictate the trajectory of all unfolding events around the world" as it does not have infinite resources nor influence to tackle complex problems that cannot be fixed only with its military might, he said.

"We must always resist the overreach that comes when we make decisions based upon fear," Obama said.

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    Wise words, but his bad case of drone love... (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Dadler on Fri Feb 06, 2015 at 07:11:20 PM EST
    ...sort of, you know, conflicts with the whole "let's not overreach out of fear" thing. Among other bad policies. Nice to hear though, inarguable, for the brief amount of time the words flew around the airspace.

    Nice words agreed (none / 0) (#2)
    by Slado on Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 04:37:47 AM EST
    We should not go running into every conflict as many on the right like Lindsey Graham or John McCain would have us.

    Where he stumbles is in what to do next.  He has repeatedly talked tough then only to do nothing making us look at best indecisive at worst weak.

    What about our current air war against ISIS?  It seems to be helping the Kurds and Iraqis but how long are we going to just drop bombs?  What is his plan to deal with ISIS?

    What is his plan to deal with Russia?

    What is his plan to deal with Radical Islam across the world?

    None of that was addressed in the strategy. We just know that he's not going to do what Bush did (unless you count drone strikes and Libya) have done or what the right wing Hawks want us to do.

    Is that really a strategy?


    You are falling (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by FlJoe on Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 07:28:57 AM EST
    into the let's do something even it's wrong trap. The conflict with jihadism has been a long complex situation. There is no silver bullet, but you demand Obama come up with one.
    What is his plan to deal with ISIS?  

    ISIS is just the crisis de jour , they are not really all that important in terms of geo-political reality. Sometimes doing nothing is the best course.  The best case scenario is for the locals to take care of ISIS on their own. We could even spin it as a victory of "moderate Islam" Islam over "radical Islam" and all sing Kumbya.

    I'm just looking for him to be clear (none / 0) (#9)
    by Slado on Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 01:47:43 PM EST
    At least as clear as he was in September.

    White House site

    I didn't think it was much of a strategy back then but at least it was coherent. Now things on the ground have changed and some of his talking points from the speech are no longer valid it seems that it's time to redo the strategy or have one.

    Yesterday his statement and Rice's we did not get that.

    Just looking for a plan man.


    Conservatives desiring to make Obama look (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 02:10:05 PM EST
    National security weak are demanding so much specificity without a thought to how that would endanger coalition mission and soldier lives...just saying.  ISIS monitors everything he says and does...duh.  I don't really need them in on any coalition mission ever.  And if our sitting President was a Republican what I just stated would be a Fox News talking point.

    Militarytracy: Multiple "5"s (none / 0) (#11)
    by christinep on Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 03:04:54 PM EST
    The Slado technique here is to keep professing that the plan is unclear or that there is no plan when it comes to Syria/ISIL.  Since when has any President ever sent out a copy of here-is-my-full-strategy & game-plan-for-achieving-a-diplomatic or military-victory-regarding X! Even though we rightfully seek transparency in many more aspects of government in recent years than was the practice before, it is rather inconceivable--as you suggest, MT--that a President would divulge essential information that could well lead to irreparably damaging any possibility of success.

    It seems to me that Slado's incessant push for immediate resolution is the kind of lack of foreign policy discipline that has led to jumping headlong into circular conflict where all options are unpalatable to most people (excepting McCain & Cohorts, of course. The "I don't understand" or "What are we gonna do, huh, huh, huh" positioning is not unlike the situation where someone doesn't really like the answer to a question, so ... so, the ? is repeated again & again while rejecting any attempt at answer.  What that usually comes down to is that the questioner only wants to hear what he wants to hear.  Perhaps, despite semi-protestations about not wanting full or large-scale military intervention, that is precisely where Slado is driving.  


    And you (none / 0) (#12)
    by Slado on Sun Feb 08, 2015 at 08:31:54 AM EST
    Seem to defend Obama no matter what.

    I'm not asking for a battle plan. I would simply like to know what the next step is since we seem to drop bombs on them and everything else is either not working or off the table.

    Over the last few days I've written extensively about how our war in Iraq made matters worse and created this mess, how Obamas actions in Lybia did the same so the last thing I think we should do is go charging in headfirst.

    But because you don't like me pointing out that Obama lacks a clear strategy you lump me in with the conservatives and then use that straw man to make your point.  In defending Obama this tactic is expected since it's his favorite when he can't make decisions.

    How long does the air war last?  At this point it seems forever since it's not going to destroy them, only Jordan appears ready to actually fight them and ISIS has settled in and continues to commit atrocities.

    The goals of the original mission in September are not being met.  Or are they and it's a secret?  If so then by all means continue.


    I do not expect (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by christinep on Sun Feb 08, 2015 at 09:41:33 AM EST
    the level of military/diplomacy detail that you do, Slado, from this President nor from any President.  It is quite open that I support President Obama on many of his initiatives; that support is there because of agreement with his policies in most instances. When I have disagreed--as in the early stages of the Syrian imbroglio--I do not hide that (as it turned out, tho, the President's more cautious approach in those earlier stages made sense in terms of lack of clear info from the broader intelligence community as to which rebel group was which and whom would early incursion really be helping, etc.) The statement from Obama cautioning against overreach correctly states the folly of hasty, precipitate conclusions.

    No, Slado, our principal difference on the amount of information that you seek about an ongoing operation involving ISIL is: You want more whereas I find the outline sufficient because maneuverability in the volatile Mideast is essential.  Mostly, tho, I consider our differences on matters such as these to have roots in our very different political orientations ... btw, it is a bit surprising that your rush to conclusion in the Mideast fits with your stated somewhat Libertarian bent.


    Slado (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Politalkix on Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 07:53:04 AM EST
    If a President said that he/she would like to end poverty in the world, I know for a fact that you would say that his/her goal was foolish because the President had to recognize the limits of American power. If a President said that he wanted to end deaths of people from treatable diseases around the globe, you would accuse the President of over reach.

    The approach to combating Islamic extremism around the globe can have a sound footing only if we first recognize the limits of American military power in solving this problem in the same way we recognize the limits of American economic power in solving problems of poverty and deaths from treatable illnesses in our planet. The solution will lie in using our military and economic power wherever such use will be helpful without creating more problems, building alliances to solve the problem and developing strategies that keep the problem from reaching our shores, even if the problem is not eliminated outside our borders.

    We should therefore be realistic in our goals and as the President said, we should not over reach.


    What is (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 10:35:35 AM EST
    the conservative plan for dealing with Radical Islam? It's an ideology not a nation state. They are a murderous cult. You cannot really use the military to solve this problem because you are not going to know whether you are killing people who are radical or not. It's not like you can look at them and tell in most cases.

    How has terrorism been successfully dealt with is what we need to be looking at. Continuing the Bush Doctrine has not worked and will not work in the future.


    The conservative plan (none / 0) (#15)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sun Feb 08, 2015 at 09:46:47 AM EST
    Step one.  Get a commander in chief that recognizes that Radical Islam is a growing threat that needs to be dealt with. So far Obama has not taken step one.  Hillary would be better.

    There are more Christians in Ethiopia than France, three times as many in Egypt as are in Ireland, one and half times more in Nigeria than either Italy or Germany, and three times as many in the Philippines than there are in the entire United Kingdom.

    Listening to Obama, you might think that the Christians in those countries and others should get off their high horse and quitcherbitchin about daughters taken as sex slaves, murders, churches burned, etc.  After all, the state department did launch a Twitter campaign here and there.


    What do you suggest? (none / 0) (#16)
    by Mordiggian 88 on Sun Feb 08, 2015 at 09:58:13 AM EST
    Obama sending Amrican troops to fight the Syrian government and ISIS in Iraq at the same time?  More troops in Afghanistan, where we've been there for some 13 years already?

    It's easy to make vague recommendations about taking Radical Islam seriously, what is actually done by us and our allies, that's the hard part.


    that he use brains (none / 0) (#17)
    by thomas rogan on Sun Feb 08, 2015 at 07:11:23 PM EST
    If Obama had armed the Syrian rebels so that they could have won early, there would still be a center in that country rather than a vacuum where ISIS and Al Qaida could step into.  This could have been foreseen.  And letting the ridiculous Karzai or al-Maliki be in charge was ridiculous.  We set up stable states in Germany and Japan after World War Two by actually ruling those countries for some years after the invasion, not by letting the worst, most graft-ridden leaders take over.  

    Silliness (none / 0) (#18)
    by Politalkix on Sun Feb 08, 2015 at 08:29:44 PM EST
    The fighting in Syria was not a video game where the rebels could "win early" if only they received American arms. Iran and Russia would never let the Assad regime fall. It is idiotic to expect a rag tag army of non-professional fighters comprising carpenters, teachers, clerks, etc (even if you assume for the sake of argument that the rebels did not comprise jihadist elements) to defeat Assad's professional military backed by Russia and Iran.

    Organized rebels including the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria tried overthrowing Bashar-Al Assad's father many times in the 1980s. You may want to read what happened to them by googling words like "Hama massacre" and see how the Syrian regime totally crushed uprisings against them in the 1980s.

    Are you historically illiterate or just a tool that gets all information from watching FOX News? Comparing the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq to post war Germany and Japan is as stoooopid as it gets.

    Did GWB "win early" in Iraq?


    Hmmmm (none / 0) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Feb 09, 2015 at 11:21:18 PM EST
    Is radical Islam a growing threat?  Now that it is being denounced by many other Muslims is it really a GROWING threat or has that now ended because we are having adult conversations without completely isolating and throwing an Islam hatefest?

    Growth (none / 0) (#25)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 09:51:13 AM EST

    ISIS control more territory than a year ago.
    The government of Yemen has fallen.
    Boko Haram has more female sex slaves than ever before.
    Jihadi recruitment is up.
    Jihadi funding appears up as well.
    Zealots of No Describable Ideology are killing more in the Phillipines.

    Yesterday (none / 0) (#26)
    by Slado on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 10:16:04 AM EST
    You had a parade of generals and intelligence officials saying clearly the threat is grave and we have no clear strategy to stop it on the morning talk shows yesterday.

    However they caution it is still not as big a threat to our homeland as it us to the stability of the Middle East at large.

    But a serious argument is made that why wait?  We are already engaged military so let's finish the job.

    The how is were the debate should be focused. To do so requires a clear strategy and leadership from the president.  Not more talk about the Crusades and straw man arguments that "they" just want to rush in.


    What channel was that parade on? (none / 0) (#27)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 12:52:31 PM EST
    I saw no such parade

    And who were these Generals and intelligence (none / 0) (#29)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 01:01:29 PM EST
    Officials?  Names please?  Probably that nutjob Bill Cowan.

    But what happened to you?  It was just days ago when you confessed there was no US military solution to ISIS.  It's like someone has to keep reminding you of facts over and over and over again.  Stop watching factless Fox News.  It destroys your deductive skills.


    The government of Yemen has (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 12:56:21 PM EST
    Been unstable and it has been largely a failed state for decades now....sigh

    It has recently began to become unfashionable in the Muslim world to be a radical terrorist in the name of Allah.  That was always the only real course of action and here we are finally.

    What military action could the United States preform that would end Jihadist recruitment?


    Less (none / 0) (#30)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 03:56:16 PM EST
    Less than six months ago Obama pointed to Yemen as a success story.

    So what should he have done? (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Feb 11, 2015 at 07:54:11 AM EST
    Gone full blown war in Yemen? What's your endangering American lives while blowing through taxpayer treasure solution?

    Whose security problem is this really and shouldn't they feel the heat of the situation and play a bigger part in the solutions instead of the wealthy of their nations generating proxy wars?


    Why am I being labeled? (none / 0) (#19)
    by Slado on Mon Feb 09, 2015 at 07:11:25 AM EST
    I have said repeatedly on this site that our use of the military for the last thirteen years was a waste when combatting the issue if Radical Islam.  Not a couple posts.   Several posts.  Please read them before labeling me.

    As for my plan we need the President and other Western leaders to confront Islam and the threat Radical Islam presents within it  much the same way past leaders like Truman, Churchill, Kennedy, Reagsn and others confronted Communism.  

    First you recognize and call it what it is and then you clearly state that will fight to make sure our way of life remains secure and that we would like for the Islamic world to raise their standards and human rights levels to ours as well as for them to truly confront the Radicals in  their midst.

    You can't win a war of ideas until you've clearly defined your own and fully state your position in opposition.  To date our leaders have been reluctant to do so because they don't like or agree that our way of life is superior and because for whatever reason Islamic States get a pass.

    This would be fine really if not for the fact that 99% of the terrorism our ignites from the Islamic world.


    You want rhetoric (none / 0) (#20)
    by FlJoe on Mon Feb 09, 2015 at 10:22:42 AM EST
    when words no matter how grandiose will do nothing to solve the problem of jihadism. This "war" will be won by action not words. Communism was defeated by a combination of the west's military and economic power not the rhetoric of our leaders.

    Of course but you can't fight (none / 0) (#21)
    by Slado on Mon Feb 09, 2015 at 11:43:47 AM EST
    An undefined enemy.  Right now who is the enemy?

    They've been call JV, they've been called non-Islamic, they've been called core or non-core, they've been called all sorts of things except Radical Islamists.

    Once we've establishef who our enemy is then we can fight them both militarily and with rhetoric as you suggest.

    To do that we will need true partnership from Europe and the other Islamic states in the middle east that choose to actually confront the radicals within their midst.

    We can take the lead but we cannot be the only ones doing the fighting like we already are in the air war against ISIS.  I don't blame Obama for not wanting to put troops there because we will also end up doing 90% of the fighting until we get others really on board but that commitment will only come if we give serious rhetoric and make serious promises.  

    It could also be that we only have to do 10% of the fighting while the Islamic states do the rest to clean up their mess. That would take even more leadership then we're presently not getting.

     I think we're pretty much on the same page on this.  


    We do agree (none / 0) (#22)
    by FlJoe on Mon Feb 09, 2015 at 03:44:02 PM EST
    on the overall best strategy, but I still do not see how putting one particular label on the problem will help defeat it. No matter what you call it the military knows who they are fighting, the intelligence knows who they are tracking and the diplomats know who they are dealing with.

    If they really wanted to name the enemy they should just call it Wahhabism and point the finger at our good pals the Saudis, good luck with that!


    Because I'm old fashioned (none / 0) (#24)
    by Slado on Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 05:06:56 AM EST
    And I think the entire American public should call it what it is and be behind our collective effort to stamp it out.

    Can't do that if our CIC won't even give it a name.

    Also I see the  constant reminding of not all Muslims are terrorists removes the reality that all the terrorists we should be worried about are Muslims and moderate Islam isn't doing anything close enough to stop it.

    If he put that message out there instead of the mish mash he's doing now he'd get more support for less action on the ground because the public at large would know that he has a firm grip on the threat we're facing.


    I honestly think radical Islam (none / 0) (#6)
    by CaptHowdy on Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 11:23:43 AM EST
    might be a less dangerous problem that Russia.  I am very sympathetic to the idea of helping Ukraine.   I'm really glad the decision to arm them or not is not mine.   They are on Russia's border/doorstep.  Russia is cornered and back on its heels.  And IMO Putin is a madman.  
    That said how can we ignore their pleas for help.  I think we won't.  That doesn't make worldview any rosier.

    Militarily helping Ukraine (none / 0) (#7)
    by Politalkix on Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 11:44:19 AM EST
    without Germany being totally on board will be foolhardy. Germany and the rest of Europe have a lot more at stake with Putin being a madman than us.

    To some extent, my thinking aligns (none / 0) (#8)
    by christinep on Sat Feb 07, 2015 at 12:00:35 PM EST
    with your comment, Captain.  There is, however, a huge dilemma with our moving forward on the military assistance avenue: Whether present day Russia or the forerunner Soviet Union or the much earlier Tsarist Russia, aggressive rulers there are known for and adept at playing the nationalism card in a strident, counter-punch way.

    Putin should be viewed as having every attention to punch above his weight while using claims of threats to Mother Russia. Remember that he has gone done that road internally by cozying up to the Church for good will and as shield and weapon against those he characterized as internal enemies of the state.  (Ah ... the former KGBer in Church with his hands pressed together looking so angelic.  He does pull it off well.) Whatever role we play, it must be done in close coordination with the previous satellite countries as well as the more prominent western European nations. We should also keep a close eye on Mideast oil & the possibility of shifting alliances as a key avenue in deepening the economic crisis Russia faces with Putin's mismanagement ... after all, our energy production situation has improved substantially and--along with that--leverage with certain other OPEC members.


    So you're taking the Romney position? (none / 0) (#13)
    by Slado on Sun Feb 08, 2015 at 09:11:11 AM EST
    Sorry, couldn't help myself. He was so ridiculed by Obama and so snarkily overall by critics for saying exactly what you're saying now it's just ironic.  

    However I don't agree with him.

    While Putin is way more powerful militarily he is also bound by his connection economically and culturally to Western society. He needs us as much as we need him to maintain a lasting peace and economic prosperity.  Something he needs to do eventually to maintain power.

    His current objective to make Russia the second super power and to consolidate as much of the old Soviet union back into Russia is a simple one and one we can negotiate and deal with.   We aren't doing it very well (if you recognize he's already taken over Crimea and basically controls parts of Eastern Ukraine) but we are engaged and it's not out of control.  Obama's cautiousness is understandable and his reluctance to arm the Ukrainians is not without merit sine the sanctions and pressure of low oil prices are hurting them and arming the Ukrainians will be seen as a hostile act.  I think he should be tougher but why should I expect that?  The American people elected him knowing they were getting the opposite of Bush and he's doing what he said he'd do in these types of situations.

    Other than he becomes richer and more powerful if Putin achieves his objective I'm not sure how it affects us in the long run.   Strategically and in other world situations where our interests cross they will become a bigger player but I don't see them as being any more of a nuisance than they already are going forwardward.  

    This problem is Europe's problem and the fact that they can only confront him with us shows how dependent the world has become on us leading and how meaningless NATO is.  We should be engaged but we should not be doing this in our own.

    ISIS along with other Radical Islamic groups have crystal  clear and simple objectives.   They cannot be negotiated with, they do not feel they need any connection to the Western world, and we cannot live side-by-side with an understanding that we are different.  Either they and their ideology are wiped away or severely marginalize within Islamor or we live with the threat of constant terrorism for the rest of our lives.

    Overall in my view their continued existence and the spread of their ideology is a much bigger threat to our homeland. Russia's expansion is not.