Once again Obama trotted out his lame old LBJ line about winning hearts and minds. That worked so well for LBJ, didn’t it?
He also pompously told his audience at the Pentagon — of all places: “Ideologies are not defeated with guns; they’re defeated by better ideas — a more attractive and more compelling vision.”
Even he admits the other side may be winning more hearts and minds, noting that we “have to acknowledge that ISIL has been particularly effective at reaching out to and recruiting vulnerable people around the world, including here in the United States.”
Also, this hearts and minds thing is a slow slog. “And this larger battle for hearts and minds is going to be a generational struggle,” he told the assembly brass.
Meanwhile, though, Obama described the task of actually fighting. “Our coalition has now hit ISIL with more than 5,000 airstrikes. We’ve taken out thousands of fighting positions, tanks, vehicles, bomb factories, and training camps,” he boasted.
Now, is that 5,000 airstrikes or 5,000 sorties?
According the Washington Times, nearly 75 percent of U.S. bombers and fighters seeking out Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria are returning to base without firing a shot or dropping a bomb, because there is no one on the ground to point out targets. The newspaper reported that the U.S. sent 7,319 sorties over Iraq and Syria in the first four months of 2015. Only 1,859 flights — 25.4 percent — released a weapon, according to data provided by United States Air Force Central Command.
At another point he mentioned sending those 450 trainers Iraq. “So, with the additional steps I ordered last month, we’re speeding up training of ISIL forces …” he said, though we suspect he meant Iraqi forces, though there have been reports that there aren’t 450 Iraqis to train.
Obama even repeated that much-ridiculed line by State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf about the root cause of terrorism being a lack of jobs.
“Now, all this said, our strategy recognizes that no amount of military force will end the terror that is ISIL unless it’s matched by a broader effort — political and economic — that addresses the underlying conditions that have allowed ISIL to gain traction,” the president’s speech writers said.
The whole speech was delivered in a monotone drone that suggested it was all just words and that his heart and mind just weren’t in it.