“Why can’t we take out these bastards?” CNN’s Jim Acosta bluntly asked President Obama at a Monday press conference at the Group of 20 summit in Turkey. “These bastards,” of course, are the Islamic State — at least for Acosta. As Obama called Friday’s attacks in Paris that left at least 129 dead a “sickening setback,” he saw no need to reset his Syrian policy.
Obama has been in a state of denial about the Islamic State. In 2014, the president famously told the New Yorker that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and in Arabic, Daesh, was a “JV team” that might dress like the Lakers but would never match Kobe Bryant. The day before the Paris attacks, Obama told ABC the Islamic State was “contained” in Iraq and Syria.
His cardinal sin, however, is not a poor choice of words, but his failure to cut a deal with Iraq to leave U.S. troops behind after 2011. By not leaving behind a force that could douse hot spots as needed, the administration created a safe zone for al-Qaida and its offshoots. That void enabled the Islamic State to seize Iraqi cities.
It’s no wonder Obama wants the United States to take in some Syrian refugees — he helped create them.