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My Turn: Obama has left United States with no good options

President Barack Obama walks with Air Force Col. Brad Hoagland at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Monday.

President Barack Obama walks with Air Force Col. Brad Hoagland at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., on Monday.

I served in the U.S. Marine Corps for more than 35 years, both active and reserve, including a deployment to Iraq in 2004 where I served as deputy legal counsel, Multi-National Force Iraq. I retired June 1 as a colonel. As I’m sure you can imagine, Marines don’t like to beat around the bush with double talk and non-answers. Every commander I’ve ever had wanted the facts, plain and simple. So I’ll be blunt: When it comes to the Islamic State, Syria and the ongoing crisis in Iraq, President Obama has left us with no good options.

The current crisis has reinforced a lesson we have already learned time and again: President Obama’s foreign policy is a failure. From Benghazi to Syria to Ukraine to Iraq, Obama has failed to clearly define the national security interests of the United States, he has failed to protect American interests abroad, and he has failed to provide strong American leadership. Our friends don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us. That’s what happens when the leader of the free world draws a “red line” and yet takes no action when it is crossed by a totalitarian regime brutally murdering its citizens.

To make matters worse, Obama failed to see this predictable crisis coming. The Obama administration had ample warning that Islamic militants would be a problem in Iraq. Many countries in the Middle East that have experienced regime change or unrest recently have seen a corresponding rise in militant, Islamic fundamentalists attempting to fill the power vacuum. Libya, Egypt and Syria are all examples of this troubling trend. Syria in particular, due to its shared border with Iraq and ongoing civil war, should have been a warning sign to the Obama administration that Iraq would also face a rising militant population. But all along, the Obama administration has refused to acknowledge the facts, calling the Islamic State “the JV team” and claiming to have al Qaida on the run during his re-election campaign.

To put it succinctly, the problem with the Obama administration’s Iraq strategy is that it doesn’t have one. President Obama has not laid out an achievable objective, a plan to accomplish that objective, or a plan for withdrawing from the conflict. The president’s failure to clearly define our mission in Iraq will inevitably lead to “mission creep” as we are already seeing with the deployment of an additional 100 U.S. military advisers and discussion of expanding air strikes into Syria.

So given the poor situation Obama has left us with in Iraq, what should be done? First and foremost, let me be clear; absolutely no “boots on the ground” under any circumstances. It is time for Iraq to govern itself and solve its own problems. We cannot solve Iraq’s internal problems with American military action. We have spent far too much precious blood and treasure in that country already.

I am open to targeted, limited air strikes in Iraq that clearly serve the national security interests of the United States or protect American lives. We have an embassy in Baghdad and Americans serving and working in various capacities around the country. Targeted air strikes can help temporarily keep the Islamic State at bay while the Iraqi government tries to get its act together. Although the Iraqi government has been largely ineffective to date, a coalition government of Sunnis and Shiites remains our best hope for a sustained peace or, at the very least, minimal violence and a semblance of stability.

Furthermore, I believe we need to strengthen our diplomatic relationships, both publicly and privately, with regional allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Obama administration has had very public spats with both of those countries recently, Israel in particular. Any sense of daylight between the United States and our allies on our approach to Iraq and the Islamic State gives our enemies hope for their perverted cause along with new recruiting propaganda.

Lastly, we need to turn our eyes to domestic security. The memory of Sept. 11, 2001, is still fresh in our minds. Right now we have a southern border that is porous and thousands of undocumented immigrants cross the border every day. In the context of the Islamic State, that represents a dire vulnerability that needs to be fixed immediately. More border guards, more fencing in appropriate areas and increased use of technological assets such as surveillance drones would be a good place to start.

(Gary Lambert is a Republican candidate in the 2nd Congressional District.)

Legacy Comments14

So exactly how would you have us get involved in Syria? ISIS is one of the groups fighting Assad, should we have armed them? Right now Iran and Assad our two old enemies are the chief opponents of ISIS and could give the most help to fight them. The mid east and Africa are not black and white as Lambert seems to think. Good guys against bad guys. He makes it sound so easy for Libya; just a coalition of two groups that have hated each other for centuries As for our "friend" Saudi Arabia, no one has yet explained why so many of the hijackers of 9/11 came from there. Or why Bush was so quick to let the Saudis leave US soil when all flights were grounded Now about the Russians, should we drop an A bomb on them . Don't forget Bush read Putin's soul and Obama read his mind and didn't like what he saw there. Israel we could write a book about. US has been their strongest ally since '48 and given them billions.

That's ok Tillie, I just read an AP report that ISIL has just directly threatened President Putin, and that they are on the way to topple the Russian government.

yes, we should just ignore them and cause another 9/11. We could solve the ISIL problem. Bomb them into the stone age where they belong. There is nothing that a tactical nuke, napalm and a MOAB could not do to solve the dilemma.

The people did not want to get involved in Syria, you have conveniently left that part out. Truth to the matter is we were doomed to failure in Iraq and Afghanistan before we even sent the first bullet. Truth be told, Saddam was never a threat to the west no matter what you all want to believe. Afghanistan couldn't even be conquered by the Russian's or anyone else. Unless you are planning to conquer and occupy, no policy or plan is worth the hot air powering it. Don't be so arrogant to think that this is unique to Obama, we have been practicing it since the 1950's. Take away the jungle from Vietnam and add sand and like magic you have Iraqi/Afghanistan. As for the Marines where you were in the rear with the gear you are wrong in your understanding. I mean this with all due respect, Marines by definition aren't there to think out a problem or question orders, they are issued orders and told to get the job done, period. Also spare us your paranoid fears of the border and Isis. They enter the country on student visa's and other legal means or are born here. Just what we need is a 1933 mile long fence, that would be cheap to maintain. Why not add some mine fields while you're at it. Don't forget about the 3987 mile Canadian border. BTW, just why are businesses groups lobbying the administration so hard for more amnesty? How about taking away the appeal for cheap illegal workers and punish those that hire them???

I agree with your last sentence. The rest of your post is simply revisionist history and over simplified emotional rhetoric. If we fought wars to win them, we could be successful.

Fought wars to win them??? Like what are you referring Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, shall I continue? We don't fight wars with the future in mind other than the two WW. Since then the threats have been based on fears and bad thinking as opposed to actual threats. Iraq posed no threat to the US directly. Don't even try to accuse me of revisionist history. You are also confusing sarcasm with emotional rhetoric, some stretch.

It is no longer astonishing how misinformed the progressive socialist liberal democrat NObamanistas remain. There is simply ZERO NObama approval for anything he does. He is simply a low life inexperienced politician NOT a leader

PBR, Will you be referring to them via the acronym, PSLDN, henceforth?

"Benghazi" bull; "failed to protect American interests" bull, no reason to read the rest.

that comment epitimizes the LIDV

Gosh, if I'd had any idea that serving in the Marines somehow equips you to run a large country I would have joined up. Who knew?

Well, Ducky, your hero Obozo never served in anything and never even held a real job. He's in way over his head.

In over his head and it shows.

If so, CRY (using the 'R' on my keyboard, as per your instructions), then that makes back-to-back presidents suffering from same affliction.

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