Iraq implodes while President Obama wages “Golf War”

IMAGE: Flickr (BY: Joe Bielawa)

RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., June 16, 2014 – With the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) marching on Baghdad, President Obama took bold and decisive action: He tried to reach the green at Sunnylands with a 7 iron from 180 yards.

Much like his foreign policy, it fell well short.

The President of the United States spent this weekend giving a commencement speech, attending yet another Democratic fund-raiser, and playing golf in Palm Springs. For those who are inclined to lecture others about how the President deserves a vacation, please consider that there is a time and place for everything. We have a right to expect the President to do his job particularly during a time of global unrest.

READ ALSO: Western diplomatic mistakes have led to the rise of ISIS

It was reported that President Obama had been in contact with National Security Advisor Susan Rice and requested that she keep him apprised of what was transpiring in Iraq. We can only assume that she was also asked to keep him informed about Ukraine as well, since pro-Russian rebels shot down a military transport plane to cap the bloodiest day of fighting since that rebellion began.

Luckily, the President can count on Advisor Rice to use the same sharp assessment skills she brought to her analysis of the consulate attack in Benghazi and her recent judgment of Sgt. Bergdahl’s exemplary military service. Given that the President didn’t consider the former to be important enough to personally monitor in the Situation Room as it was transpiring and that he celebrated the second with a ceremony in the Rose Garden, it would appear that Advisor Rice and he share similar mindsets.

In the absence of a discernible foreign policy, it would seem that ISIS’ march on Bagdad might merit President Obama’s personal attention. Then again, he probably had already committed to give the commencement speech, attend the fund-raiser, and play a round of golf much like he had committed to attend two fund-raisers in Las Vegas for his re-election campaign less than 24 hours after the attack in Benghazi began. Perhaps, we should take pride in the fact that he obviously is a man of his word.

However, one might legitimately question President Obama’s apathetic approach toward the job he was elected to do. One need not be a Conservative to question the President’s priorities. Liberals and Independents should question them as well.

The President has given more speeches, remarks, and press conferences than he has spent days in Office. Would the impasse in Congress be as great if he were as engaged in breaking it as he has been in criticizing it?

While the President lectures about Climate Change and denigrates those who disagree with his position (i.e., referring to them as “flat Earthers” and “climate deniers”), he often does so by flying around the country (as he did this past week). Should he not be expected to reduce his own carbon footprint by using traditional media outlets and social media platforms to spread the word?

Should we not also question whether his interminable fund-raising schedule complies with the first part of his Oath of Office (i.e., “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States”)? Is fund-raising truly a part of any President’s fundamental duties? It certainly has nothing to do with the second half of the Oath in which each President swears to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Keep in mind: You pay for the fund-raising trips. You pick up the tab for Air Force One (at $181,000 per operating hour) as well as for Marine One, the Beast (the armored Presidential limousine), the motorcades, Secret Service and other event security, the President’s advance team, staging costs, and the travel, hotel, and food costs of the massive entourage that accompanies the President on these trips. Try to keep that in mind the next time you hear a speech about raising the minimum wage.

As an example: This past weekend, President Obama flew approximately 5,400 miles. The use of Air Force One alone cost taxpayers about $1.6 million. That would fund over 7.5 years of minimum wage employment at $10.10 per hour. Was it money well spent? You decide.

READ ALSO: Iraq, Iran, ISIS, the Obama White House and the Benghazi connection

Of course, the President could have remained at the White House and become personally involved in plotting our course with respect to the insurgency in Iraq. Bizarrely enough, in his absence, Iran offered to protect the Iraqi government we left behind.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel repositioned the USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf. If that proves to be important, you may rest assured it will be proclaimed to have been the President’s decision. Otherwise, it will be the Secretary’s (as occurred with respect to the five-for-one Taliban prisoner swap for Sgt. Bergdahl once public favor for the decision began to sour).

Inconsistency appears to be the hallmark of this Administration’s “lead from behind” approach to foreign policy.

After almost nine years of fighting and the loss of nearly 5,000 American lives, we failed to successfully negotiate a status of forces agreement before withdrawing from Iraq. This led to that country’s current state of vulnerability.

In fairness, we did provide the Iraqi military with weapons and equipment, and we attempted to train them. However, our Administration’s geopolitical naiveté was underscored by its Pollyannaish belief that a democratic form of government had truly been installed and that the Iraqi military would defend it. Guess what is going to happen in Afghanistan after we withdraw from it?

This isn’t to say that we should have lingered so long in Iraq or Afghanistan. We should have had defined missions in both countries and left as soon as those missions were completed. Unfortunately, we continued to follow our failed pastime of “nation building” as if every country should be created in our image.

What makes the current aggression in Iraq interesting is that we not only supplied the Iraqi military with many of its weapons and equipment, we did the same for ISIS.

You see, after our air strikes helped Libyan rebels overthrow and assassinate Muammar al-Gaddafi, weapons began migrating from that country to the rebels in Syria. There is speculation that the United States may have even been supplying weapons for that purpose.

Meanwhile in Syria, the better trained troops among the rebel forces trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were al-Qaeda affiliates or members of other extremists groups. Can you guess who ultimately acquired the weapons flowing from Libya? Apparently, our Administration could not.

Then, President Obama drew a “red line in the sand” over the use of chemical weapons in Syria. After more than a dozen additional chemical attacks occurred, one of them gained sufficient media coverage to force the President to “change (his) calculus.” We were set to light up the Syrian night with massive missile attacks until Russia intervened.

Since then, the Administration has been delivering light weapons and non-lethal gear (e.g., advanced communications and medical assets) to “moderate” rebel groups in Syria in an attempt to curry favor with them should they successfully topple the Assad regime. Congress has even considered escalating the level of weapons to include surface-to-air missiles, etc. What could possibly go wrong with that scenario?

It should be noted that the most powerful anti-Assad factions are militant groups such as ISIS, which is so extreme that it has been denounced by al-Qaeda. Let that sink in for a few moments before you continue.

As you might expect, “moderate” rebel groups find it difficult to say “no” to ISIS and its ilk. Similarly, many members of the Iraqi Army abandon their equipment, drop their weapons, and run when ISIS approaches. Guess who scoops up the leftovers and gains strength? Now, guess who paid for all those goodies?

We apparently have done an excellent job of equipping ISIS as it is moving through Iraq almost as quickly as our troops did. Of course, there was greater opposition when we invaded because there was a strong government in place and the Iraqi military was committed to defend it.

For those who would argue that it was necessary to go to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein was a despotic dictator, keep in mind who funded his emergence and supplied his army with weapons. If you need a hint, it is the same country that supported Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Mohammad Rezâ Pahlavi in Iran (among others) in hopes of garnering new allies in the region… much as it hopes to do again if it can influence the replacement of old regimes with new ones in Egypt, Libya, Syria, etc.

Correspondingly, “Osama Bin Laden is dead and al-Qaeda is on the run” is a campaign slogan rather than evidence of a cogent foreign policy. In many ways, al-Qaeda is a greater threat today than it was on September 11, 2001. It has metastasized and is no longer headquartered in one area or maintained in one form.

Beyond that, groups like ISIS have now been spawned and we are indirectly arming them. What sense does that make?

We need leadership and a clear foreign policy. Given President Obama’s seeming disinterest in either, perhaps we need to frame the issue differently.

Dear Mr. President:

We are in the deep rough and desperately need you to play the right shot. While you’ve gotten out of a lot of bad lies in the past, you can’t rely on your luck to continue.

If you play this too strong, we could all end up in a bunker. If you play it too weak, we could end up in a trap. If you play it too far to left or too far right, we’re guaranteed to lose.

So, take all the elements into account. Then, don’t just take a swing at it. Know how you want to play it, where you want to land it, and how it will finish.

Giving a speech about what you’re going to shoot isn’t the same as actually doing it. At the end of the day, there will be a scorecard that tells the tale.

We hope you’re using the new balls you said you had in 2008 and 2012 because, so far, we haven’t seen them. And remember: You need an Eagle to win.


A Civil Assessment has been designed to serve as an Op-Ed forum for you. You are invited to offer your opinion and to discuss your position in the Comment Section. Please be sure that your “assessments” remain “civil” so that they may earn the respect of others.


TJ O’Hara provides nonpartisan political commentary every Tuesday on The Daily Ledger, one of One America News Network’s featured shows (check local cable listings for the channel in your area or watch online at 8:00 PM and Midnight PM Eastern / 5:00 and 9:00 PM Pacific. His segment appears about 35 minutes into the program.

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TJ OHara
T.J. O'Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States. Along the way, he earned the first Presidential endorsement of the Whig Party since the 1850s, his website was archived by the Library of Congress for its historic significance, and he won the first on-line “virtual” Presidential election (conducted by We Want You) by a commanding 72.1% and 72.7% over Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, respectively. His column explores our Nation’s most pressing issues, challenges conventional thinking, and provides an open forum for civil discussion. Learn more about TJ at his website and connect with him on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter (@tjohara2012). To order his books, go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords or Sony Reader.
  • heilbama

    All is going as planned for Obama. Those illegals, they were organized – three months ago. They are emptying entire villages and bringing them here. We are being distracted while Iraq burns, our borders implode with the weight of diseased illegals and criminals. Meanwhile, in all parts of America, Jihadists are training in secret compounds. Expect them to play out the irony – attack us upon our birthday – July 4, 14, or 9/11/14. They’ll hit our infrastructure, bridges, stop deliveries of food, emergency, military and escapes. House-by-house attacks until no one is left. UNLESS you own a gun. Obama tried to take care of that too, now didn’t he?

    • Thank you for your comment.

      The article is about leadership and the importance of remaining focused. It addresses the President’s responsibility to prioritize his time and resources on behalf of our Nation.

      For years, the position has become more partisan. It also has increasingly succumbed to the distraction of money. The problem is not specific to President Obama. Many of those in other recent Administrations displayed similar traits as they bowed to the will of their Parties rather than the will of the People.

      As for conspiracy theories, you’ll probably find more interesting discussions in other forums. This one focused on facts as opposed to conjecture.

      • heilbama

        Seems like you veered off course, too, no pun intended.

        • heilbama

          seeing as I’ve been your only responder…thus far, you ought to be nicer to your reader(s).

          • Your comments are still only figments of your imagination and have no basis in fact or reality. Your a commentator, not a reader. Maybe you ought write your own commentary. House to house – yeah, that’ll go well for them.

          • heilbama

            I read it, therefore, I am a reader. As to the remainder of your statement, time will tell, won’t it? You have no idea how much I want to be wrong and for you to be right. Those 36 terrorist compounds on American soil surely won’t turn out men such as those insurgents in Iraq! You dismiss that possibility and would prefer to believe they’re training to be florists? Okay, then! You win!

          • You misinterpret my intentions ; I dont give a hoot about “winning” personally, I would simply like to see the Republic survive for my children and theirs, which is why the two party system and all the moneywhores that have attached themselves to it, must go!

          • heilbama

            I hope your wishing for that works out for you.

          • I apologize if my comment offended you. It wasn’t intended to do so.

            I hope you will continue to participate in this forum. As this was your first visit, I wanted to clarify how this column’s Comment Section different from the thousands of other columns that serve as a place to “vent” hyper-partisan positions.

            The column’s title is “A Civil Assessment,” which effectively describes the “rules” for participation. All points of view are welcome. We only require that they be on point, presented in a civil manner, and that participants respect the views of others with whom they might differ.

            Thank you again for your participation.

          • heilbama

            Apology and rules accepted. Thank you

        • It wouldn’t be the first time I veered off course … and I think your “unintended” pun is very clever. :o)

  • ncmathsadist

    The president’s life is supposed to come to a halt here. I think you are imposing an unreasonable standard. As long as any problem exists, the president must wear a hair shirt? C’mon. Be happy that Obama has refrained from getting into stupid pointless costly wars like Bush 43 did.

    • Thank you for your comment.

      Just for clarification: I do not believe a President (this one or any future one) should not be allowed to enjoy an occasional break from the rigors of the Office. However, I do believe that the Office itself requires a four-year commitment to rigorously prioritizing one’s focus. No one should run for that positions without accepting the fact that it will require a degree of personal sacrifice.

      It is difficult for me to embrace the importance of fund-raising and recreational activities over the emergence of serious national or global issues. During difficult economic times, it is also difficult for me to justify the expenditure of massive amounts of taxpayer dollars on such activities.

      However, I recognize that many people gave President Bush (43) a “pass” on some of his choices, so it doesn’t surprise me that partisan supporters of President Obama are willing to give him a “pass” on some of his choices as well.

      Thank you again for your comment.

  • We’ll never get a true leader as C-in-C until we wrestle control of our political system away from these two outlets of organized crime called PARTIES. We’ve already seen the retreads and ideological boors they are eyeing to push down our throats next time. Not for nothing Mr. O’Hara, but this is what we get when we elect a “community organizer” to pretend to lead. Last time we elected a draft dodger, and the time before that someone who couldn’t even keep his nose clean as governor.

    Why do we expect outstanding unexpected results from a sub-optimal cast of characters?

    Not to mention the simple fact that any form of accountibility is gone in DC. You perform your tasks with complete malfeasance, ( HHS, VA, State etc etc), you get fired from government service and pick up a new gig in the priovate sector 2.5X + the salary, or you bolo your position as Secretary of State, as you did your last elected position as a NY Senator, and run for President.

    And we wonder why nothing ever gets done and “reform” has become a hollow word?

    As a class of citizens, these folks are ill-suited for true public service.

    Whig out.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Chaas.

      As you are well aware, I have written numerous articles that address a variety of the issues you have raised with regard to how to correct our candidate pool (from pre-election Ethics Agreements to an expose of the Parties’ behavioral conditioning of the electorate to limit choice). I would encourage you and others to go to the Archives tab of my website and watch the 06/03/2014 video entitled “Final Thoughts: The Importance of an Informed Vote.” It provides insight into the quickest path that would allow us to experience real “reform.”

      Thank you again for your comment.

  • Eric N Keya Erickson

    I have always thought that one of the biggest blunders in Iraq was when we disbanded the well-trained and equipped Iraqi military in favor of training a bunch of raw recruits. Not only did we instantly eliminate the new government’s ability to defend itself (and degraded it for decades to come, as we are now seeing), but we also took away employment from trained, armed fighters. While I could see removing the top leaders, military loyalty is generally to the nation, not to a specific government. Soldiers can also be retrained and re-equipped. If they had taken the more reasonable approach, I think much of the violence over the last decade could have been avoided.

    As dismal as our foreign policy has been for most of the last 60 years, isolationism sometimes appeals to me. I think that approach to foreign policy is irresponsible and impractical at best, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the current approach.

    • There are times that I think that isolationism sounds like a pretty good idea. And perhaps it maybe simplar than what I think. The danger with doing the whole isolation thing is it allows those outside the wall the ability to plan and attack. With a pathetic security posture on our southern boarder we are completely exposed. We are giving our enemy the two major components for a successful attack. One is opportunity and the availability to cause another 9/11. So we leave Iraq, and we leave Afghanistan and pull out of the Middle East completely. We are still allies to Isereal, we still are barely a Christian Nation and will forever be an enemy to these islamic extremists, aka terrorists.
      Here is the what needs to be accepted and tollerated. War is Hell. War is horrible in every aspect of the word. It cripples, mames and kills. Suffering and distress is rampant. People die, men, women, and children. As much as we tried, the defense and success of our nation from being encrouched upon by this threat needs to meet the full force and vigor of our military. If this be a holy war and the enemy truly believes this then meet us on a battlefield of your choosing and fight like nations. One nation of the West, and the othe a Nation of Islam or God or whatever you want to call your army and we will go at it. If they are not convicted enough to do this then we will meet them in the marketplaces and in the villages. We will go through and level every mountain village and town, we will annialate every person that houses, supports, and fights for the enemy. We will cause such damage and destruction that the people will loose all desire to support these terrorists anymore, because if they do or don’t death will be enevitable.
      That is the playing field that our enemy is fighting on, and if we are going to win this then we need to get the Political Correctness out of the war and get down to business. And when we have unleashed the true might of the United States of America we leave. We don’t build a nation, we don’t try and create a government, we leave, unless you want to plant Old Glory and claim the land ours. We need to give our troops simple and easy Rules of Engagement, you see anyone with an AK-47 kill them. Shoot First and ask questions latter. They already think that America is the big bad monster then lets give them one.
      We have a president that could not fight out of a wet brown paper bag, let alone lift weights. He puts popularity and politics ahead of America. He has a very disturbing background that should have raised questions to his credibility to serve in public office in the first place. We are in a pickle right now and I have no faith in the current adminstration to be able to do anything about it except make things worse.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mr. Erickson.

      It is difficult to categorize our blunders in Iraq. They all have the potential to stand on their own. :o(

      I think one of our greatest challenges is to recognize the differences that exist between our culture and that of the Middle East. We often err by superimposing our beliefs on a region that approaches life and governance from an entirely different perspective.

      According to the First Amendment, “Congress shall respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Conversely, religion is a primary driver of governance throughout the Middle East. The present conflict in Iraq is an example of that reality.

      As I said in a political commentary I gave on “The Daily Ledger” this past Tuesday, our position is often one of arrogance and ignorance. We arrogantly believe that “democracy” should be the preferred nature of governance for every country (conveniently ignoring the fact that self-determination might be more reflective of fundamental freedom). Then, we appear to be ignorant of the cultural differences that abound throughout the world.

      That combination has proven to be unsuccessful in many of its applications, yet our leaders continue to apply it. One can only hope that, some day, they will try a different approach.

      Thank you again for your comment.

  • John Kenner

    In related news, here are the US deaths in Afghanistan, by year:Bush2001: 52002: 302003: 312004: 492005: 942006: 872007: 1112008: 151Total = 558Obama2009: 3032010: 4972011: 4942012: 2942013: 115Total = 1,703

  • Gadsden Purchase

    In related news, here are the US deaths in Afghanistan, by year:Bush2001: 52002: 302003: 312004: 492005: 942006: 872007: 1112008: 151Total = 558Obama2009: 3032010: 4972011: 4942012: 2942013: 115Total = 1,703

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