'Obama's War Plan Makes No Sense'
September 17, 2014 • 1:35PM

The strongest criticism of President Obama's plan for war, during a hearing yesterday morning of the Senate Armed Services Committee against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, came from Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who said that he can't explain it to his constituents in West Virginia so that it makes any sense. He told Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey that the question he hears everywhere is, "What do you expect to be different than what you've done in that region of the world for 13 years? If money or military might hasn't changed it, what makes you think you can change it now?"

Within that context, he took on the Pentagon's plan to train 5,000 Syrians to go and fight ISIS in Syria. "I have a hard time understanding why all of a sudden we are going to convince these 5,000 to turn and fight ISIS, who is fighting the same religious war that they are fighting against the Assad regime," he said.

"I'm just saying our past performance for 13 years in that region hasn't given us the results," Manchin went on. "We took out Saddam. We thought that would change. Iraq's in worse shape. We take out Gadhafi. We thought that would change. It got so bad in Libya, we've had to pull out our own embassy and our people in our embassy."

"They're wanting to take out — these barbaric dictators are unbelievable. But it seems like that's what rules. If it is not one, it will be another. We are taking out a person or turning efforts now to ISIS or Assad. I'm not supporting any way, shape or form Assad. I think he should be gone.

"But as long as he is able to remain there, he is fighting the same people that we are asking people to train to fight, that we're going to spend $500 million. It makes no sense to me. And I can't sell it. I've tried all my — you can't sell this stuff. And no one believes the outcome will be any different."

Manchin had been immediately preceded in the question by Republican Deb Fischer of Nebraska, who didn't go as far as Manchin did in pointing the policy failures of the past 13 years, but she did question the honesty of the administration's strategy, particularly the part dealing with $500 million to create a Syrian "partner" inside Syria.

"We need to be honest with the American people on what lies ahead, and with the request as it is, we are not being honest with the American people," she said. She added, in the form of a question to Hagel, that she fully expects the administration to come back to Congress and ask for more authority and more funding for its war in Iraq. Hagel refused to say that there wouldn't be more such requests in the future.

Obama Slammed for Illegal and Incompetent War on Islamic State

While the House and Senate leadership of both parties is committed to ramming through President Obama's $500 million in new funds to train Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia to fight against the Saudi-created Islamic State jihadists over the next 36 hours, some sharp criticism of the latest incompetent Obama war scheme is making headlines.

Thomas Lippman of the Middle East Institute published one such assault on the MEI website under the title "A Coalition of Uncertainty." Contrasting the coalition that President George H.W. Bush assembled to drive Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991, Lippman observed "The situation confronting Obama and Secretary of State John F. Kerry is considerably murkier, to say the least. The United States is not just herding cats, it is herding wolves, rabbits, chameleons, and maybe a few sheep."

"Obama and Kerry are asking other countries to join the United States in an effort to destroy a group of armed rebels who are not invaders, but mostly indigenous to Iraq and Syria."

The New York Times, in an editorial signed by The Editorial Board, slammed Congress for hiding behind a spending bill to put money into arming and training the Syrian rebels without full Congressional debate and an up or down vote. "Far too many Democrats and Republicans are afraid of casting a clear vote on this issue before the elections, preferring to hide behind the shield of a spending bill."

Josh Rogin, in his Sept. 15 column in the Daily Beast, hit Obama on the fact that there is no international law justifying the war plan against the Islamic State. "President Obama," Rogin wrote, "is pretty sure he has the domestic legal authority to strike Syria. But he has no explanation yet for why such a strike would comport with international law." After mocking the Obama White House claim that when the time comes, they will come up with an appropriate citation of international law, Rogin wrote that "the administration has said almost nothing about why airstrikes in Syria would not be a direct violation of the international law of armed conflict and the United Nations charter, as both the Syrians and their Russian allies have claimed."