|Spreading Pink Ink|
I am not a foreign policy expert but I do stay awake during the news. Further, I don't watch Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert, so I take what is said seriously on its face, as not as setups for cynical mockery.
Obama has a very different policy than Bush and Cheney. You may not like it, and you may, as do I, think it is obscure on some big issues, but Obama does have a different policy.
Bush and Cheney invaded Iraq and Afghanistan in order to change those governments whom they suspected of enabling the terrorism of Al Qaeda. It was a state oriented policy. That it was wrong in the case of Iraq is one thing. Saddam was not enabling AQ. The resulting chaos obscures the deeper error of the policy. You see more clearly the error in Afghanistan where the Taliban was protecting AQ. But, it's still impossible to put together a viable government in Afghanistan, even in coalition with the Taliban.
Obama said from the beginning that the Bush policy was stupid. The Obama policy is not directed as states and governments but at organizations that adopt the strategy of attacking the "far enemy" as a way to gain local power. Iraq is in the midst of epic civil war, and I don't believe that Obama thinks we have any real leverage or interest in the outcome that is worth our engagement. But the Islamic State had adopted the strategy of becoming the strongest Sunni force by threatening to attack the US. Per Obama, that makes it in the interest of the US to fight ISIS.
Fighting the "far enemy" has been the AQ strategy all along. It is a variation on Mao's road to victory in China by making the CCCP the strongest fighters against the Japanese.
Obama says that it would be just great if Iraq put together an inclusive government. Not said is the recognition that we have little or no influence on whether that happens. Obama, I believe, knows that. (Actually, I believe ISIS is Iran's problem: Iran has been the greatest influence on the Iraqi government which created the conditions for ISIS by excluding Sunnis from power.)
So the Obama policy is to directly engage (bomb) groups that strategize about attacking the US, and otherwise disengage from the political struggles in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan. The US will use Special Operations and Air Power, including drones, to attack those groups, but will not create or impose political solutions on those countries. Instead of trying to create regime change through invasion, it is a strategy of sidestepping governments and going directly after radical groups. It's what has been happening in Pakistan all along. Obama said as much in one of his first debates in 2008, when he said he would attack Osama Bin Ladin in Pakistan without asking for Pakistani permission.
We are now 'at war' with ISIS in Iraq and Syria. So we bomb Assad's greatest opponents. But the US is not interested in helping Assad stay in power. Whatever we say, and whatever John Kerry is able to work out, we are leaving the political question in Syria to the Syrians. As we are in Iraq. As we are moving toward in Afghanistan. Which makes a certain sense.
None of this is hidden, but readily available information.
Sometimes, I hear progressives talk as though war in Iraq is some deeply pleasurable activity for the President to engage in, as though Obama, like Bush, has always hankered for a chance to bomb Iraq. But you have to ask yourself, "If Obama wanted a war in Iraq, why didn't he just keep the one he inherited?"