In Syria, Do We "Have a Strategy Yet"?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

A fighter loyal to Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr takes part in a last combat training near the city of Najaf on August 23, 2014, before joining the government forces to fight ISIS. (HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty)

When asked about needing Congressional authorization to intervene in Syria, President Obama said he "doesn't have a strategy yet." Is this a sign of indecision, or measured caution? David Sanger, national security correspondent for The New York Times and author of Confront and Conceal: Obama's Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power (Broadway, 2013), talks about the Obama ISIS doctrine, and what comes next.


David Sanger

Comments [21]

"Obama Schedule || Tuesday, September 2, 2014

by Keith Koffler on September 1, 2014, 10:03 pm

11:00 am || Receives the Presidential Daily Briefing" -------


Sep. 02 2014 05:46 PM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

@ Chuzzle - As overblown as your heated rhetoric is ("eunuch superpower")the fact is this: What has happened to Foley and Sotloff is just as terrible as the 4 other Americans beheaded during GW Bush's term.

(Daniel Pearl, Pakistan; 3 during Iraq War, businessman Nicholas Berg,and construction company employees Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley and other foreigners many Iraqis:

What was your stance when Iron Bush completely destroyed Iraqi extremist militants...oh, wait, that never happened.

As you know, the current ISIS leadership in Syria and Iraq come primarily from the joint remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq and former military Iraqi Baathists. So again, was the full-on deployment of (non-"eunuch") US military might in Iraq and Afghanistan able to stop these horrific acts? No.

By the way, the manner in which you end your last, inflammatory post with a racially tinged remark is instructive ("on an affirmative action schedule").

Sep. 02 2014 03:42 PM


So, what GOLF BOY called the "Junior Varsity" again humiliates the eunuch super power under the coward in the White House.

Don't worry, he is coming up with a strategy ... on an affirmative action schedule.

Sep. 02 2014 01:44 PM
amalgam from NYC by day, NJ by night

@ Chuzzle - Debunked again:

Putin Comment on 'Taking Kiev in 2 Weeks' Misinterpreted, Aide Says

BTW, would mind showing me your academic records considering your most recent flub?

Sep. 02 2014 01:01 PM

Tensions Rising, Putin Says He Could Take Kiev in 2 Weeks

By ANDREW ROTH 50 minutes ago ...NYT

"The statement by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia added a new dimension to the tensions building in Ukraine as Russian forces become more involved in the fighting there."


Sep. 02 2014 12:27 PM

2 cheers to Mr. Sanger for draw'g the line clearly from Secret Wars (SEA past, AfPak present) thru to the Economy Wars (always). As in the past there will be uncounted collateral damage + no account'g for sav'gs that could be realized by everyone gett'g into a different line of work.
If that's really a bad idea why keep quiet (bipartisanly) about the "benefits" of carpet bomb'g?

Sep. 02 2014 11:29 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Qatar has really perfected the financing of their ISIL pals and the various Jihadi groups in Syria. They tell their proxy fighters to capture westerners and then Qatar will "pay" them for them, all for humanitarian reasons of course... what a brilliant way to finance terrorists! Gotta give them credit:

But seriously the big picture is tough, a real dilemma. Our European pals are getting squeezed by Putin and Gazprom for their lifeblood, natural gas, and the only way to get it (because LNG terminals are not ever going to replace a pipeline) in sufficient quantities would be to run a pipeline from either Iran through Iraq and into Syria and on to Europe (Shia WIN!) or from the Gulf through Syria and on to Europe (Saudi/Qatari/Israeli Win!). Look at a map, there is no other way. So what's the answer? War is the answer, obviously, but who do we back? Any "strategy" is going to create some losers and might even lead to a wider mid-east conflagration so stepping carefully and waiting when nothing is really at stake is a really good idea.

Sep. 02 2014 11:27 AM

"No strategy yet" because OBAMA called ISIS the "Junior Varsity" back in January.

He expanded upon that with the profound analogy that just because "a JV team puts on a Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant."

LOL, and I guess just putting a Community Organizer in the White House doesn't make him a President.

Sep. 02 2014 11:25 AM

What DOES one do about civilization "dead zones" popping up here and there??? It's not your usual problem is it?

Has anyone asked what happened to our well intended strategy to bring peace and prosperity to the world everyone held for decades??

Could there be something like the agricultural runoff creating dead zones in the oceans at river mouths be hiding something we have been overlooking that keeps degrading the fortunes of others in opposition to our efforts to help???

Sep. 02 2014 11:21 AM
PJ from Bk

Americans are warmongers. We have invaded countless countries with rabid domestic support. In addition to supporting everything from apartheid, occupations, illegal land appropriations and coups against democratic all elected governments.
Listen to all these warmongers calling, war war war. Which other peoples besides Israelis who love war like Americans.

Sep. 02 2014 11:17 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey


Why are you laughing?

Golf Boy #1's ("Now watch me make this drive!") lack of strategy on a post-Saddam Iraq created ISIS.


Sep. 02 2014 11:16 AM

Thank you GW et al. for creating the wonderful power vacuum and introducing us to these charming new players.


Sep. 02 2014 11:14 AM
Tony from Canarsie

Your caller is bit naive in thinking that "calling for a world-wide meeting" of leaders, no less expecting anything to come out of it, will solve anything.

Sep. 02 2014 11:12 AM

Saddam is looking pretty good these days.

Sep. 02 2014 11:11 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

There is no "strategy" needed. Which is not to say that I think Obama is doing a bang up job on foreign policy but this is most certainly a "wait and see" situation. ISIL, frankly, doesn't matter to the big middle east picture.

Also, a strategy (a means to end the war) vs. tactics (the way you win a battle) would require that we do something very, very difficult. We would have to confront the primary state sponsors of terrorism in the region who also happen to be our allies: Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE ... it's plain that we have to either go along with their wishes or forcefully reprove them diplomatically and that decision is still a ways off. Assad, like Saddam, was never in bed with terrorists, Hezbollah notwithstanding.

Sep. 02 2014 11:07 AM

Not sure why we need a strategy. Just let ISIS take over. Once the masses sees how crappy their state is the world will lose interest in an Islamist revival the same way the world lost interest in Marxism after a century of the Soviet Union. Just let it run its course.

Sep. 02 2014 10:53 AM


"Amid the deteriorating military situation, President Barack Obama will travel to Estonia this week to reassure a region rattled by Russia's incursion into Ukraine that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization remains committed to defending its Baltic members."

Sep. 02 2014 10:41 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

What "strategy" do we need to have? The US has or had only two interests in the Middle East: oil and Israel. Those are the only things we are committed to defend over there. That should be our only strategy. These inter-Muslim wars can be interminable as was once the case between Catholics and Protestants in Europe. It went on for centuries till it petered out. Right now there is yet another renaissance of a recurring Muslim Arab dream, to create a Caliphate that would bring the whole world under Islamic Sharia law. These things flare up periodically and eventually burn themselves out after a lot of blood has been spilled. Nothing new here.

Sep. 02 2014 10:18 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The slaughtering in Iraq reminds me of the killing in Rwanda, there was a documentary about that called 'If only we had listened' by Immaculee this weekend. A missionary said 'There are no more devils in hell, they are all in Rwanda', and that can be said of Iraq now. They would almost kill people with machetes and leave them to die in pain.
This kind of thing might get us to turn against abortion finally.

Sep. 02 2014 08:00 AM

"President Obama Needs to Focus" - WASHINGTON POST editorial today

"President Obama’s acknowledgment that “we don’t have a strategy yet” in Syria understandably attracted the most attention after his perplexing meeting with reporters Thursday. But his restatement of the obvious was not the most dismaying aspect of his remarks. The first has to do with simple competence. One can only imagine the whiplash that foreign leaders must be suffering."

LOL ..... NOW they notice??

Sep. 02 2014 07:32 AM

GOLF BOY sent us off on our weekend with the admission that "We don't have a strategy yet."

No surprise that they can't show his academic records.


Sep. 02 2014 07:24 AM

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