Courier Letters to the Editor

No Strategy

Dear Editor,

Part of watching politicians talk and news coverage is making a sport out of picking which phrase will be hyped up into its own news event.

When the president responded, “I have no strategy…,” to a reporter’s question, I knew that would be the one. Those who oppose the president at every opportunity have used it to suggest that he’s lacking in leadership and planning the fight against this particular terrorist group. And the news media accommodated that aspect. I think that’s the wrong, predictable but wrong, response.

There’s more meaning in the phrase.

“I have no strategy…” You mean the president is responsible for developing the strategy? I should hope not. Somewhere back down the line in this nation’s intelligence-gathering and analysis organizations, some combination of groups were assigned the ISIL watch. Their reports were accumulated with others on different groups and events happening around the world and moved up the line. I suppose some threat level was given to each.

Also, I would hope there was a strategy already laid out in the playbooks for the various threats. The government contracts with some of the big-name think-tanks to develop these types of things, strategic pre-planning. Or at least they used to. All the president — any president — should have to do is sign the authorization papers for the appropriate response to whichever threat bubbles to the top of those daily morning reports.

Some in the Senate and House have suggested ISIL has been in those reports for a year or more, the inference being that the president didn’t do anything then. So where was Congress’ attention during the same time? Internal political fighting over budgets, cuts in spending, no new taxes, affordable healthcare, government shutdowns, sequestration and all the rest. Apparently Congress thought the ISIL threat level was much lower than these things — assuming it was on their agenda at all.

I suppose now that ISIL is the hot topic in the news, it’s just another way for the politicians in Congress to get into the game. It might be better for them to stay out of the way. They would only have their congressional hearings and floor debates, attach some untenable, special interest amendments, shut down the government and then go home to do their reelection campaigning. (OK, maybe not this time around. Have they learned something from last year’s debacle?)

At least they have a strategy on how to deal with the problem — pass the hot potato back to the president.
Such a choice we have. Let the president, with his low approval ratings, make the decisions or let Congress with even lower approval make decisions.

It’s been a few weeks since all this started, and now there is a strategy. Guess what? It’s basically the same one that has been played before. Spend a year training the locals to do the fighting, establish a better working government and hope the results are better the next time. One of the more clever minds of the 20th century said something about doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.

Jerry Hughes