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Is it rational to employ “stay the course” as a terrorism strategy

Written By | Dec 6, 2015

WASHINGTON, December 6, 2015 – President Obama spoke from the Oval Office of the White House to assure all Americans that he understood the seriousness of the terrorism problem and that he was working to defeat all threats.

He said he would continue with the same strategy he has used for the past year and a half.  Essentially, he will stay the course.

Is that the best strategy?

Regardless of political affiliation, President Obama is an effective public speaker. After listening to him there always seems to be a strong desire to believe him and trust that he is doing the right thing.

However, during the past almost seven years, we have heard a number of his statements that were eventually proven to be less than forthright and he was less than trust-worthy.

Obama channels a beloved TV character, but it’s not Ronald Reagan

National security should always be the number one priority of any president.  We all know, and now the president admits, we are at war with ISIL.  If that is true, then any military expert will say that when you are in a war, you fight to win.

Especially when the enemy has vowed to wipe you from the face of the earth.

The president outlined a four point strategy to defeat ISIL.  First he said that we would hunt down terrorist plotters in any country and then mentioned that the US has started to bomb ISIL controlled oil fields.  He said he would continue this, although some military experts say that the president is refraining from full attacks for a number of reasons, like civilian casualties.

The president cited a coalition of 65 nations contributing to the fighting.  It has been difficult to verify that figure, although it is encouraging to see a post 11/13 commitment from France, England and Germany formally.

Although they were part of the original 65, they now appear ready to really contribute.

Secondly, the President said the US would continue to train and equip Iraqis and Syrians so that they will provide the ground troops, a program that cost millions and failed miserably (Isis: US spent $500m training only ‘four or five’ Syrian rebels to take on Islamic State).

Thirdly he would work with allies on sharing information so that terror plots can be better detected and stopped.

While this is welcomed, we have been sharing information for some time and yet it hasn’t stopped the attacks, which have made Americans fearful since the attacks are now on our soil.

Knowing the truth behind San Bernardino and Colorado Springs terrorism

Fourthly Obama said he would work with the other nations to achieve a cease-fire in Syria.  Then, he says, all nations will be able to join the fight against the common enemy ISIL.  With the Russians and the Iranians fighting along of the coalition, victory should come quickly. That seems to be a longer term goal and it is questionable what position the Russians and Iranians will take in negotiating the cease-fire.

Would Russia and Iran join the rest of the world and fight ISIL?  Or might they have some other goals, which could be influenced by the terms of the Syrian cease-fire.

Americans are indeed fearful. Since the top priority of the federal government is national security, it would have been more comforting if the president had been more forceful and re-assuring.  We really wanted him to say that we shouldn’t fear; that America is the most powerful country in the world.  We wanted to hear that he would get more aggressive immediately and change the strategy to more quickly defeat ISIL

Some are advocating an increase in the number of troops fighting on the ground.  There are currently about 3,500 troops employed.  Perhaps increasing that number to a level where the war could easily and quickly be won, is a good idea.  But Obama says we should not go down that road.

The four part strategy is essentially “stay the course.”  The problem is that the current course has let ISIL grow, spread its influence around the world and now threaten Americans in our homeland.

Is “stay the course” really the best strategy?



Michael Busler

Michael Busler, Ph.D. is a public policy analyst and a Professor of Finance at Stockton University where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Finance and Economics. He has written Op-ed columns in major newspapers for more than 35 years.