Obama continues to draw fire from critics on anti-terror strategy
Updated: 2015-02-10 14:06
WASHINGTON - Critics continue to blast U.S. President Barack Obama for what they bill as a dismissal of the global terror threat and a lack of strategy to fight violent Islamist radicals worldwide.
The criticisms come not only from Republicans and right leaning pundits, but also from some in Obama's own party and even former administration members at a time when Islamist radicals are on the march around the world.
In the latest in a string of negative critiques aimed at the White House, former Obama administration Defense Intelligence Agency director Michael Flynn contended the White House's strategy is "clearly not working."
In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Flynn took issue with the administration's refusal to link terror groups with radical Islam, instead just referring to them as "extremists" in what many critics decry as political correctness on steroids. "You can't defeat an enemy that you don't admit exists," Flynn said.
"I think that we have to ... recognize is that it is not working," he said of the White House's overall plan to combat terrorism, adding that the U.S. needs a broader strategy that recognizes the U.S. is facing not only a threat from Islamic State (IS) but also a similar threat worldwide.
Indeed, the rise in terror was spotlighted by the recent massacre of a dozen journalists in France by Islamist gunmen; terror group Boko Haram's overrunning of several towns in Nigeria; and the IS burning alive of a Jordanian air pilot.
Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation, echoed many critics. "Obama is not thinking in terms of fighting a global war, and so what we have coming from the Obama administration is a confusing patchwork ... as opposed to a coherent overall strategy," Gardiner told Xinhua.
Some have also charged the president with having a weak foreign policy team that lacks a serious global strategic thinker.
"There's an absence of a coherent big picture strategy and a long-term view with regard to U.S. foreign policy," Gardiner said.
Critics argue Obama has been lukewarm on the terror threat since the 2011 killing of al-Qaida's mastermind Osama bin Laden, contending the president simply declared victory and moved on.
That, they argued, was underscored in Obama's recent one-hour State of the Union Address, in which he devoted just a few minutes to the rising terror threat. The president was also blasted for not appearing at last month's anti-terror rally in Paris that drew a million supporters and over 40 heads of state.
Republicans also lambasted the president's national security agenda, released on Friday, pointing out that the document contains no major changes despite the rapid rise of terror groups.
In a speech detailing the plan, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice told an audience at the Washington-based Brookings Institution that America's resources and influence are not infinite, adding that the U.S. must "resist the over-reach that comes when we make decisions based upon fear."
Meanwhile, critics last week took issue with some unusual statements from the president, which seemed to equate the Islamist terror threat with events in the Middle Ages involving France and other European nations, hundreds of years before the world knew North American existed.
"Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ," he said Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Many observers and media were baffled by the comment, although some said Obama wanted to underscore that the U.S., despite its bombing campaign against IS, is not at war with Islam as a whole.
Obama on Thursday described IS in harsh terms, as a "brutal, vicious death cult" that undertakes "unspeakable acts of barbarism," striking a hard tone against the group.
At the same time, the U.S.-led coalition in recent weeks pushed the terror group out of Syrian city Kobani. Still, IS remains a formidable foe, experts said.