In a Thursday interview recorded for Megyn Kelly's Fox News show that evening, Charles Krauthammer provided stunning evidence rarely mentioned even on Fox — and almost never in the establishment press — relating to how unserious the administration's and the Pentagon's "strategy" has been in containing, let alone defeating, ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Krauthammer began discussing the inadequacy of the American military effort at the 1:58 mark of the video which follows the jump, charging that President Obama is only "pretending to be doing something," and discussed the long-term consequences if the situation doesn't turn around.
First, the video (backup is here for future reference):
Transcript (beginning at 1:58; bolds are mine):
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: So this is a serious threat, and there's no denying that the strategy is an abject failure.
And in fact, you wonder about how serious is the President in the first place?
Let me give you one example: The Pentagon said that in the Battle of Ramadi, a key capital in Anbar, we had 135 airstrikes in the last month. Just to give you a comparison, in the war in Kosovo, which is of infinitely less strategic importance to the United States, we were averaging 10,000 sorties a month, and we were doing 165 in Ramadi.
This is not serious. This is for show. This is for the President to pretend he's doing something, but actually and actively and knowingly not doing anything.
MEGYN KELLY: They seem to be appealing to people's reluctance to do another 2003-style invasion. And yet, more and more, we are hearing people from both sides of the aisle talk about how, that we don't have to go that far, but we do have to make a decision about the road we're on now, because it's going to come back to haunt us. This is Richard Clarke, who was on another channel today, who worked for Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, and listen to what he had to say about it.
RICHARD CLARKE (recorded earlier): It's a nation. It's got a couple of million people. It's larger than about three dozen nations that are in the UN. It straddles the Iraqi border. It's a country. And it's going to train terrorists and send them (to) places like here. People need to decide if they want to go back into Iraq even a little bit. But they have to, to stop ISIS, because otherwise, we're going to have a terrorist state, and it will get around to threatening us here.
KELLY: Charles, your thoughts?
KRAUTHAMMER: Which is why we need a serious strategy. He's absolutely right. This is a state. This is Al Qaeda on steroids. Al Qaeda was hiding in caves and had the support of the Afghan government. But it was in the periphery. As we learned from the Osama bin Laden documents that were now just released, he knew that that was a sideshow. The real show was the middle of the Middle East, it was North Africa. And that's where ISIS is.
ISIS has skipped over the Al Qaeda stages. Bin Laden's idea was to weaken the infidel first and then establish a caliphate. I think the genius of ISIS is to understand that the West, particularly the Obama administration, is a demoralized enemy. You can establish the caliphate now, and you will gain adherents, which is exactly what's happening.
KELLY: We went into Afghanistan because they harbored terrorists who aimed to destroy the United States. And what they're now saying is, the same thing is happening, right now, Iraq is becoming, and Syria becoming, that home base for terrorists, who will mean to destroy us.
And so the irony could be, Charles, if we sit back long enough on a strategy that even Richard Engel, the NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent called "just plain stupidity," if we sit back long enough we are going to be faced with the choice of going in in a full-scale invasion if they grow and metastasize as they have been.
KRAUTHAMMER: And look, in the end, the greatest tragedy of this is, as David Petraeus, the architect of the surge, told the Washington Post last month in an interview, the greatest tragedy of this is that it was unnecessary.
As Obama himself said in December 2011, "We are leaving Iraq stable, secure and sovereign, and self-reliant." And as a result of the vacuum he created, we have Iran rushing in on one side — it's now essentially in control of the regime in Baghdad — and ISIS on the other side establishing a caliphate, coming into the vacuum.
It was a predictable result, and as Petraeus says, a tragic one, because Obama chose to do it in a circumstance where there was no compulsion for us to completely evaluate Iraq as he did. And that's why we're going to have to redo this, but not by an invasion, but by cleverly using surrogates on the ground and by arming them, for God's sake.
KELLY: Charles, thanks for your expertise on it.
KRAUTHAMMER: My pleasure.
Reconciling Krauthammer's inconsistent figures, US News reported "165 airstrikes against extremist positions this month alone" in Ramadi in mid-May, without providing any sense of how historically inadequate that effort was.
Petraeus is right that there was no military "compulsion" to leave Iraq. But Team Obama obviously thought that there was a political compulsion, namely to cover his far-left flank in advance of the 2012 presidential election.
The early portion of the Kelly-Krauthammer interview included a repeat of Krauthammer's characterization of White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest as imitating Iraq's "Baghdad Bob" as U.S. troops closed in on Iraq's capital in 2003, consistent with Wednesday evening's "Special Report" (covered Thursday morning by Curtis Houck at NewsBusters).
Meanwhile, earlier today, engaging in fits of fantasy that are still hard to believe even after being seen, President Obama declared, and the White House tweeted, that Memorial Day 2015 "is the first since our war in Afghanistan came to an end."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.