By Sal Bommarito
ISIS has won a major victory in Ramadi, the largest city in the Anbar Province. This should be a rude awakening for President Obama pertaining to his failed strategy in Iraq. For Americans, the action is thousands of miles away and none of our soldiers were killed or injured, so too few are challenging the administration about its misrepresentation of the war.
The U.S. government has continuously fed bad information to the public about the progress of the hostilities. The New York Times reported that Josh Ernest, Obama’s press secretary said, “We have seen a lot of success, but we’ve also seen significant periods of setback” (an understatement). He then asked, “Are we going to light our hair on fire every time that there is a setback in the campaign against ISIL?” The hair of the entire administration should be ablaze based upon the direction of the ISIS war. The only success in recent days was the alleged killing of a top leader of ISIS, who very few people even have heard of.
I began to consider whether all presidents lie and distort exploits for political purposes. Shouldn’t our leaders be honest all the time? Non-transparency is bad enough, but sometimes necessary in diplomacy. But, outright misrepresentation is another thing. Even Congress seems to be in the dark based upon criticisms by its members about the direction of the conflicts in both Iraq and Syria.
If the current U.S. plan in the region is faulty (and many believe it is), why doesn’t the administration change course. The American strategy of minimal intervention and training Iraqi troops to defend their own country are flops. Eschewing ground force employment will make progress difficult as ISIS embeds itself deeper into populated areas. Moreover, Iraqi government forces, once again, ran from the fight. This has resulted in yet another change in direction for Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi who is likely to “re-invite” Shiite militias that are loyal to Iran back into the fray. The U.S. response to this could be cessation of bombing sorties.
In the meantime, ISIS is recruiting more soldiers and culling the favor of Sunni tribesmen who feel disenfranchised by the Iraqi government. The sectarian schism is growing every day to the dismay of Sunnis, who are the principal recipient of ISIS cruelty even though the latter has sworn to kill Shiites and other ethnic minorities. The Times also indicated “ISIS Finances Are Strong.” Extortion, taxation, oil theft, investment in soldiers and cost control serve the insurgents well.
The ISIS imbroglio is only one situation where the flow of information is too often faulty. Although progressives may disagree, many Americans believe that the president’s strategy to solve income inequality is naïve. Even worse, it has stirred class warfare in America.
Obamacare is another example of the administration misleading the public about every aspect of the program (I do think universal health care is a noble objective). Everything from implementation to ultimate costs to the true beneficiaries has been twisted so ordinary Americans throw up their hands. Some benefit, but many have not to the extent advertised.
There are many examples of politicians spewing lies; the practice goes back to the beginning of the Republic. In recent years, Lyndon Johnson secretly bombed Cambodia and Laos. Ronald Reagan covertly provided arms to Nicaraguan “contras.” Politicians live high on the hog with donor support, don’t pay taxes and violate the law while criticizing hard working Americans for being too successful and too wealthy, neither one of which is a crime.
The biggest lies are told during political campaigns. Candidates exaggerate their credentials and make up false stories about their opponents. They make secret deals with wealthy supporters for cash and other favors. Our leaders have actually distorted our Constitution so that political donations are defined as a form of free speech. This effectively makes campaign finance reform impossible. Big money will influence elections for the foreseeable future.
In 2016, Americans need to find a man or a woman to be president who will be honest all the time and transparent. No more lies and distortions. I recommend voters not support those who lie about their opponents, their resumes or their campaign objectives.