Obama Acknowledges U.S. Erred in Assessing ISIS

President Obama told “60 Minutes” that the United States had placed too much trust in the Iraqi military, allowing the region to become “ground zero for jihadists around the world.”

Comments: 198

  1. Obama's newest "dangling conversation." I hear the sound of boots on the ground.

  2. The miscalculation lies squarely on President Obama's shoulders. It was Obama that had sided with terrorist Rebel forces to overthrow Assad in Syria, and assist terrorists in creating an Islamic State. Obama decided to arm 'moderate' terrorists over the objections of Russia, China and neighboring countries. Obama was making threats to Assad and supported Rebels that were directly linked to Al-Qaeda, the same terrorist group that has threatened the U.S. and other Nations, Assad never has.

    Had it not been for Vladimir Putin forcing Obama to accept the Syrian chemical weapons destruction plan, Obama was about to attack the Syrian Government and empower these groups inside Syria, bringing them closer to their goal of an Islamic State.

    Even today, Obama tries to classify terrorist groups as 'good' or 'moderate' and the 'bad' ...while China and Russia still adhere to the old US policy that 'all' terrorist groups are bad. They're upset that Obama's policy shift has created this new threat ISIL, which now threatens many of their allies in the region. When Obama finally decided to act against ISIL he did so without the consent, or coordination of the Syrian Government, the country where the missiles were fired into, clearly a violation of Internation Law, and Russian FM Lavrov stated that in his UN speech just days ago.

    Obama's policies aren't working, he needs to start working with Russia and China to combat 'all' terrorist groups, and not just the few 'he' believes are bad.

  3. O is being dishonest, and he knows it. The Sunni/Shia struggle is an ideological one, not given to a political solution. Its been going on for fourteen centuries. Stupid is O? Not really, just dishonest in trying to tell us otherwise. To think Iraq politics can do so is just O's way of getting out of office and leaving this unsolvable problem to Hillary who will tell us 'what difference it does it make'. The US should not in any way be involved in this mess.

  4. The president's critics suggest USA could have prevented ISIS from happening by supporting a Free Syrian military force. However, what is over looked, USA spent lives of our finest men and women; and years and billions training a free Iraqi force, which fled before the approaching ISIS leaving them with our best equipment.
    Therefore it is inconceivable a Free Syrian force, which was less well trained would have performed better. The USA have a long history of trained combatants, which failed after we left them alone. We can not want more for people in other countries than they want for themselves.

  5. In a Bill Moyers & Company interview aired this weekend, the guests stated that the U.S. had been following the rise of ISIS for a number of years, but ... ?didn't take them seriously. In addition they knew three days before the ISIS offensive that blew away the Iraqi Army that this was coming down the pipes and urged Maliki to prepare for it. He ignored their advice.

  6. Did you not at least read the article? It was not "the president's critics" who are suggesting that the creation of ISIS could have been prevented. It is the president himself, who is, not merely suggesting it, but saying so flat out. Of course, he doesn't blame himself. Instead, he says that "the United States," failed to do so--as if it was the decision of the people of the U.S., and not HIS own moronic decisions that were wrong. Hillary, Leon P, and practically all of his generals all told him to take action in Syria 2 1/2 yrs. ago. But being the "Annointed One," blessed as he is with strategic omnipotence, he ignored all advice and did whatever his inexperienced military mind told him to do. And that guaranteed failure and put the U.S. and the world in the pickle we find ourselves.
    But wait, I can feel it coming--Bush is to blame. Sorry, but that flight took off 6 years ago. Even Obama seems to finally know that.

  7. The problem has not been the military training we give. It is two other things:

    1) The military training that we don't give. We teach mostly low level infantry tactics, and keep the command and support functions for ourselves. The Iraq Army fell apart for lack of logistic support. We never set up logistics for that Army, since we intended to be there and control that ourselves. The same for fire support, and the entire lack of any Air Force.

    2) We set up puppet governments to serve us, not real governments with actual domestic support and practical functioning. At best they run their own capital, but only so far as they don't get in our way there. They can't stand on their own, whcih is fine with us while we are there because it keeps them obedient. When we want to leave them real responsibility, they can't do it. Their Army won't serve them, and neither will anybody else.

  8. America;
    1. A helpless, hapless, hopeless giant swatting at flies.
    2. Gigantic aircraft carrier with no power drifting toward the shoals of history.
    3. Exceptional, special needs, rich, powerful, moronic.

  9. The beauty of words is that you can say so much with so few if you use them right. I wish our elected officials, POTUS included (and not just Obama or this administration) understood that sometimes more can be accomplished with less. Especially with regard to foreign policy. Our country was actually on a much better course before we decided to become the military leader of the world and wage endless wars/battles that never resolve the initial conflict and only create more issues that fester and sore until they become impossible to ignore.

  10. WG,
    I say this as a liberal and Obama voter;
    It seems like he is trying constantly 'style philosophic', crack brilliant, be frank when he shouldn't. It's like he thinks he is saying something in private to a close friend.
    He's not.

  11. Ultimately the greatest negative outcome of Bush's Iraq war might be that it created a "boy who cries wolf" situation so that now when there is a real wolf the US did not address the issue in a timely manner.

    I give credit to the president for admitting that for all the advanced technology and spying capabilities the US has he still misread what public opinion is about his lousy foreign policy and the danger that poses to the midterm elections- I'm sorry that slipped- I mean of course that he misread the danger that ISIS was posing to the US.

    I also give him credit for recognizing that the feckless dithering about ISIS sent the wrong message to potential midterm voters- I mean to our oversea enemies.

    Finally he gets credit that he is now taking positive action to correct this problem in time for the midterm elections - I mean in time that the problem should not get out of hand.

  12. Didn't we once have an organization that was called "CIA?"

    Whatever happened to that group? They seem to have disappeared from this planet.

  13. That's ugly and intellectually dishonest. You are imputing motive without evidence.

  14. @Josh

    I see what you're saying, excellent point, let me clarify.

    I don't think Bush's motive per say was to "cry wolf" and in fact I think he accomplished a great deal of worthy lasting deterrence with the Iraq war until Obama surrendered it in haphazard pullout for political points, as you point out that is what the evidence (not having a major attack on our homeland since then) points to. It is just the admittedly irrelevant detail of the WMD's that I referred to as "crying wolf."

    There hope that's better.

  15. Underestimated? He means they under-sold it as the villain of the month for the benefit of the perpetual war machine. Two months ago in a Times comment I wrote that within 60 days time we will have an all-new "evil" which none of us ever heard of and that will be the most scary villain ever. And on August 11, Peter King showed up like clockwork to say that ISIS is more dangerous than our previous all-purpose evil bogey man Al Qaeda. This is never going to end. Peace is to costly to certain interests.

  16. ISIS was useful when it was fighting al Qaeda and the Shiia forces in Iraq. Remember the surge in '07? The U.S. funded ISIS and associated Sunni extremist groups to fight against Iranian backed Shiia. We also hoped ISIS would depose Assad in Syria.

    What Obama underestimated, as have all U.S. military leaders the past six decades, is how when you unleash and finance an extremist force (remember the Mujahadeen/OBL fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan?), it is impossible to put them back in the bottle.

    When will Americans acknowledge that violence only breeds extremism? So many shrug, "But we have to do something and can't let these extremists survive." And then we try and kill them, we inevitably create even more violent extremists. That is the story of Iraq, in which ISIS and al Qaeda did not exist prior to our invasion/occupation.

    What Obama really wants to say is: "I inherited this mess and there is no real answer other than to keep killing people. Perpetual war for perpetual peace." In the end, endless war will ultimately kill our society from within.

  17. US funded ISIS? What do we know about this?

  18. More blood, more treasure? You can never win militarily. Let them have it and watch them self destruct once they don't have the Great Satan to unify them. The will turn their guns on each other and yes, there will be complete chaos in the region. Does anyone care to characterize what is now happening as anything less?

    Spend my tax dollars on schools, teachers, healthcare and a well protected border. Let the Mid East find its own level. No one here can give them democracy and a stable justice system when they have no history or culture for it. This writer called the outcome of Shock and Awe on day one and still, the outcome remains unchanged regardless of how many of our sons and daughters lose their lives in the interim.

  19. Late in his tenure, Bob Gates said that anyone who suggests sending a land army to the Middle East or Africa needs to have their head examined. Can't believe that's what we're hearing from Boehner.

  20. The more the U.S. intervenes in the Middle East, the more madmen we will produce. Osama bin Laden comes to mind. As the president's reliance on military strikes continues, many must wonder if these actions have anything to do with the midterm elections, or outdoing the Republicans in their lust for military solutions to world problems.

  21. Perhaps O should apologize to the families of all the people murdered, maimed and displaced by his mistake, including those 200,000 lives lost in Syria in the past three years. 'Mistake' is a poor choice of words. Remember the 'safe' world O described only months ago? Its all politics and no one should be fooled by O's words. Hey its an election year. Next year we will be treated to 'what difference does it make'.

  22. Thousands of Americans died in Iraq and the US failed to bring stability to the country, thousands of Americans died in Afghanistan, and the US failed to bring stability to the country. What makes you think it will be different in Syria?

    The American government is spending your tax money on another foreign war that will be a failure, and all to help the Saudi dictatorship remain in power, this has nothing to do with protecting US lives, your government are nothing else than puppets of the House of Saud. They lied to you about imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and they lie to you again about Syria to justify the war against Islam.

  23. Well said. The results this time will not be any better.

  24. I'm glad that President Obama realizes that at the end the military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has to have a "political solution." But, Mr. Obama has to take the next steps and lead in developing such a solution, especially in Syria. Does he envisage a nonsectarian, demilitarized Syria? Will it be split along ethnic and religious lines either into separate states or a federation? Does he support a Marshall Plan for the area largely funded by Arab states? These and others are the vital questions that would have and should have been asked if President Obama asked for a Congressional debate and authorization for his ISIS War.

  25. When you're dealing with conflict, both sides need to be beaten into submission. No amount of "leading" will achieve peace, just one side realizing it has suffered enough and can't make the other side suffer more.

  26. Debate? God forbid the Congress take a stand on anything, especially war. The only problem will be how to pay for all this 'action' in Syria and Iraq. Don't even think about an 'emergency appropriation'. US cost this year will be about $8 billion, next year $25 billion. Thinking the Arabs will provide any of this money is delusional. Come January, the rubber will hit the road as the Pentagon runs out of money and not able to 're-program' from other accounts. It is not about 'war', its about 'money', yours and mine. Wise up.

  27. I doubt they would have been asked if there was a congressional debate. Remember the debate before we went to war in Iraq. Remember who raised the red flags? was there any discussion of long term planning? There was and it was all wrong and based on conjecture not historical questions. The republicans would only use it as a convenient way to beat up on Obama and the Democrats and nothing of substance would be addressed. The only one asking the hard questions is Sanders and the media would barely cover that.

  28. Yeah right. But if he's failed so colossally (as he states) he should resign immediately and let someone else govern.

  29. Name someone you think could do better given the hand he's been dealt.

    I dare you.

  30. I am not at all optimistic. As we put down one violent radical group like Al Qaeda in Iraq, they or their counterparts spring up later in Syria and now Algeria and who knows where next? We will have go in (one way or another) and whack one here and then there. Sadly, their violence will have horrible impacts on individuals and communities via loss of American service personnel or a terror attack on the US or other countries. Never do the root causes get addressed and mitigated by local authorities. Maybe that’s the way it must be, because until effective governance, education and a decent future is possible for Muslim countries, largely through their own efforts, violence will be a leading option and hatred of the west an easy scapegoat. In the meantime, we fight a defensive struggle day in day out, for who knows how long. That’s not a pretty picture, but I’m afraid it is a big part of current reality. I hope someone can offer a better and brighter vision.

  31. What a surprise! The Multi-trillion dollar Surveillance Industry is so busy spying on everyone all the time they didn't even notice the terrorists that have destabilized the entire Middle East ... just like they didn't notice the danger from el Qaeda ... or the Arab Spring ... or the meltdown of the Soviet Union ... or the long-planned attacks on 9/11 even though they had already attacked the WTC once before ... or the invasion of Kuwait ... or the financial collapse of 2008 ... or the Russian invasion of Crimea ... or, or, or ... #oops!

  32. Don't buy Obama's excuse. He had accurate surveillance data showing the danger of ISIS, Putin's intentions, etc. His interest is not in acting on that data, but in hiding it so it doesn't harm him politically. Unfortunately, when things become so threatening that they are now out in plain view (such as videos of beheadings and of fleeing Iraqi refugees), then even Obama can't pretend anymore. After all, his party has midterm elections to deal with.

  33. They're underfunded.

  34. Let's remember that if you are a CIA operative it is far safer to spy on Americans than on real potential enemies.

  35. Oh, so the U.S. government "erred" in its assessment of the situation in Iraq? If so, it was merely one in a series of thousands of catastrophic errors, all beginning with the Bush Administration's decision to invade Iraq. And now President Obama has decided to continue that losing streak. How many more trillion of dollars must be wasted and how many more people must die in a new war (or a "remix" of an old one) that promises to drag on for years, decades, forever even. I thought the U.S. public was sick of war in the Middle East. I thought the American people had wised up to being perpetually manipulated by neoconservatives and warmongers. I thought the United States was smarter than this, but evidently not.

  36. The CIA and the military did not underestimate the rise of ISIS. There were plenty of forewarnings. President Obama, for political reasons, wanted to perpetuate the idea that al Queda and other militant groups "were on the run". And, that his killing of Osama Bin Laden ended the terrorist threat. It was naive on his part to believe that that misconception would be sustainable. Now, Mr. Obama is admitting his underestimation of ISIS while blatantly underestimating the level of effort required to stop ISIS by eliminating the option of US boots on the ground. It won't be long until he's forced to admit that option will be required.

  37. It's always striking to me how quickly the Right excoriates Obama for working very hard to prevent the need to put our sons and daughters at risk from such a death cult psychotically evil group as this Dasch (ISIL). It's almost as if we should each American every one get on a flight to Istanbul, check out the Hagia Sofia, and then just hitchhike to Baghdad and start shooting.

    I for one am just fine with a patient and careful president when it comes to putting "boots on the ground." Why do not some of you think about the implications of such am move as you fry him in your far-right muck-raking and silly spin.

  38. So the solution to preventing ISIS, as suggested by Hillary Clinton and others, was to install another US trained combatant, a Syrian force to combat ISIS? How has that US trained Iraqi Army worked out so far?

  39. It won't be long if one thinks 2 1/4 years isn't long. Like so many politicians (or all of them?), decisions and pronouncements seem to be based on election cycles. Of course, if the current posturing is specifically tied only to the November mid-terms, then yes, it really won't be long.

  40. The U.S. President may believe that a "political outcome" is the only effective resolution to the Sunni/Shiite confrontation, but it would be wrong for him to forget that Muslim extremism is not confined to that theatre. The entire world was put on notice. Even us polite, pacifists on your northern border are infidels in their crosshairs, and we have our fair share of home grown terrorists.

    The bottom line: no one, anywhere is safe until the terrorist infrastructure is virtually annihilated, virtually all their weapons are destroyed, and all of their leaders and sympathizers are sent off to join their 72 virgins.

  41. No argument there. Just how do you plan to do this?

  42. Thank you Mr. Obama for having the decency to acknowledge your mistake. Contrary to the hay your political opponents will try to make of this, this shows me that you are, despite your imperfections, are man of decent character. Not sure I can say the same of the original architects of this mess.

  43. He didn't admit anything. Go watch the 60 Minutes interview. But, make sure you have some antacid with you.

  44. No, he acknowledged the "mistake" of James Clapper. He didn't take any responsibility at all. By now we should all be used to this ... his acting like an outsider while these rogue and inept agencies fail him time and again. He makes an argument for smaller government better than any conservative I've heard.

  45. You really should be thanking James Clapper, who took this one for President Obama because Clapper knew everything there was to know about ISIS.

  46. Perhaps President Obama might have had better outcomes had he a functioning government - ie House, Senate, Supreme Court - to support and advise. Instead, he has had a six year of backlash, negativity, ridicule, and obstructionism bordering on treason. As always, the President is big enough to willingly shoulder his responsibility. Too bad the rest of our leaders, elected and out of office, can't take a few moments from enriching themselves to do the same.

  47. Actually for the first two years Dems had the house, the senate and the WH - and they still couldn't get anything done. I am so tired of hearing that the Republicans are the devil. This administration wouldn't know advise and consent if it came with a sign and hashtag.

  48. Wow, really? First of all the President never admitted he made a mistake; he only assented that the ill-defined "they" or "the US" had made an error, which is truly astonishing after his egregious "JV" quote. Second of all, how does a supposedly obstructionist Congress have anything remotely at all to do with a gross foreign policy misappraisal of this magnitude? The fact that this comment has received the most upvotes from NY Times Readers demonstrates that it is literally impossible for Obama to make any misstep that they won't explain away or re-direct towards Republicans, even if it makes no logical sense. I would imagine these are the sorts of reader comments Kim Jong-un receives in North Korean newspapers on a frequent basis.

  49. No real surprise here, but this will probably just one more Fox News/Conservative reason for attack. Reality vs. Insantity. The USA chooses insanity.

  50. Was it the President who said, back in February, that ISIL is no much a threat than a junior varsity basketball team?

  51. Yes, it was not the United States, just him. Perhaps an element of a dream the president had in which he was captain of the Joint Operations Team that outscores American ISIS volunteers, in the Harvard gymnasium of his mind.

  52. They are obviously JV by comparison to USA, but his error was thinking US trained Iraqi Army was the one being compared. In that case, he was in error as Iraqi Army demonstrated Bush league status.

  53. Three hurrahs for a president who is willing to admit a mistake. Admitting a mistake is the first step towards avoiding a similar mistake in the future.

  54. Errors, maybe -- no, definitely. But the root error -- no, lie -- dates back, at least, to 2003.

    From the right-wing hate machine President Obama will surely again be dubbed the "liar from 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue."

    What America needs is foreign policy, in all its challenging complexity, in the hands of folks who cannot get the presidential address correct, who confuse Concord NH with Concord MA or who resent anybody casting aspersions on their asparagus.

    Free the stupids! Destroy the world! And rest well, Honest Abe.


  55. Our President models the high practice of admitting mistakes. People complain that he is secretive, mysterious, etc,, but he makes who he is explicit in his actions and in his words. We are most fortunate that he among us.

  56. It seems you misread the article. Obama claims no responsibility.

  57. He's "sharing" or spreading the blame around. Typical and not very Harry Truman-like but a seemingly immaterial point to me considering what's going on.

  58. Although, President Obama has a fondness for, inappropriately, using the first person singular when describing what he considers an achievement during his administration, such as the Navy Seals taking out Osama Bin Laden, he won't use it when it really applies, as in this case, when he said the "United States" underestimated ISIS. According to the CIA and the military, they never underestimated ISIS and provided the president with accurate information, including recommendations to take action against ISIS which he declined to do until now.

  59. In matters where the decision is his alone to make or assess he rightly speaks in first person, but where he is dependent upon information or judgments from others his usage is appropriate.

  60. I have read a number of people who claim that if President Obama had negotiated to leave 20,000 troops in Iraq (since the agreement signed previously wasn't etched in stone) none of this would ever happen. But he only didn't do that for political reasons and a GOOD leader could have convinced whoever was in power (that week) in Iraq that we were entitled to do it our way.

    I guess part of that is true. We'd still be spending money and losing lives since the Iraq military still wouldn't be able to do it themselves. But maybe we could have "driven" ISIS out of Iraq and they would just go elsewhere... like Syria and Turkey?

    Oh, they also use Germany and South Korea as examples of how we need to commit our troops long-term. And use South Vietnam as an example of a previous failure by leaving.

  61. We didn't leave a smallish occupation in Iraq for very good strategic reasons - it would have been vulnerable to attack and unable to defend itself effectively, and would have become the focus for a Shia anti-American movement. As things have played out, the Shia tend to see the US as an enemy of their enemy instead of as an unmitigated evil.

  62. It is striking that the 14 comments prior to mine are so much in agreement regarding our involvement in the Middle East and the deceptions of our "government." One has to wonder why the "government" is so far removed from the opinion of the "governed." Obama seems to be a man of great rhetoric who has no belief in his own noble chatter. It is time for the United States to stop killing and maiming people, including its own youth.

  63. I wouldn't go that far, but nice try.

  64. Indeed, it does appear we erred in our assessment of ISIS. And we should, along with the coalition, stop it in its tracks. I am glad the president is acknowledging this. I can't imagine George "stay the course" Bush doing the same.

  65. Did Bush 43 ever acknowledge HIS mistakes? I do not think so.

    The Iraqi involvement should have ended when Bush 41 ended it and, as far as we know, he counseled Bush 43 NOT TO DO IT.

    Well, it turned out that the Sunnis. while a minority in Iraq, still have a lot of clout.

    Years Obama does not have. Will he take our troops from Iraq before he leaves office in January 2017? I do not think so.

    In another part of this paper Friedman speculates whether Reagan was luckier thana Obama.

    I did not bother to read it: of course he was. The Soviet Union collapsed and he took a credit for that...

  66. The USA spent billions and aid, and, more in blood, to booster the Iraqi army. When tested, even though they had large advantages in arms and numbers, they ran from ISIS like jackrabbits. If they are not willing to sacrifice for their own nation, why should we?

    Malaki was corrupt, and governed only for his tribe. What else is new for ALL players in the Middle East?

  67. We have to move carefully and with great deliberation in the Mid-East. Look at recent history, specifically the Iran-Iraq war, then the Iraq attack on Kuwait, etc. This is a volatile place with deep tribal roots. It is too easy to simplify and think our force can correct deep hostilities in the region. I prefer that the President restrains from hasty military action when political solutions are needed. It is difficult to put humpty-dumpty back together again. Will the Kurds ever trust an Iraq leadership again? The regional powers such as Turkey, Iran and the Saudis need to step up to the plate with political solutions.

  68. As awful as ISIS is, and it should be eliminated, let's not kid ourselves into thinking that our reason for bombing Syria is based on humanitarian reasons.

    There's only one reason that the U.S. is involved in the Middle East -- oil. We are hamstrung by our reliance on Mideast oil, and we continue to make poor policy decisions because of it.

    Until we can fully rely on energy sources other than that particular fossil fuel in that particular region, we will continue to dance to the tune of whomever is pulling on our strings. This kind of high-jacked strategy is no way for a supposedly powerful nation such as ours to enact policy, whether foreign or domestic.

  69. Let me understand. So your solution is 'drill baby drill'? or Frack baby Frack in the USA? So that we wont need their oil? And then we wont care about ISIS and wont need to fight them, just let them alone in peace?

  70. We're awash in oil (and gas) in this country-American oil-because of "tracking" and similar new technologies. And as a result we need far less ME oil. But the same individuals who argue that we are going to war in the ME because of the oil are the same ones who oppose exploration and oil extraction in North America.

  71. Spend a week not using one single derivative of petroleum.

  72. You progressives need to get your narrative straight. Is it Bush's fault for making us resistant to seeing the real threat when it came along, or is it the nefarious capitalist interests who make us trigger-happy for the next fake threat?

    I would love to hear a debate between the two factions of "progs" attempting to figure out which propaganda piece is the better one to peddle.

  73. If US Navy veteran John Boehner, R-Planet Orange, says we need troops on the ground, who would know better?
    After all, Boehner, spent 8 weeks in the Navy before being discharged for a weak back.

  74. That's 8 more weeks than Obama spent in the service. What difference does it make, anyhow? Obama never takes his advice from anyone on military matters. He also never held a job outside of a local "community organizer." Great military credentials those make.

  75. The difference?
    It was during Viet Nam, a war that killed more kids from my high school than all the national republicans who even went, i.e. Hagel and McCain.
    For comparison, the Presidents grandfather and great uncle both enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor. The Presidents granny worked in a defence plant for the duration, a la Rosie the Riveter. The Presidents Kenyan grandfather was in the British Army in Burma for WW II.
    What about Cranbrook prep school cheerleader Viet Nam draft dodger Willard Romney you ask?
    Not one veteran in Romney's family in FIVE generations.

  76. Any peace in the Middle East, now or later, begins and ends with Israel and the Palestine's. Until that happens everything else but peace will continue to happen, increase and, grow even more dangerous and destructive in the MIddle East and spread more and more to other countries as well. The Middle East in today's interconnected world is everywhere.

  77. Nice effort on your part, Robert, with your last sentence, to pull the u.s. permanently into an area we always should have left alone.

  78. ISIS is not about Israel. It is about the establishment of an Islamic State whose borders never end. It's inhabitants are ruled by Imam's based on Sharia Law.

  79. Um, no. Israel and the Palestinians is just a distraction magnified by Arab nations (and Europeans) to keep unhappy Arab citizens from joining groups like ISIS to foment revolt within the existing Arab establishment. So curing the Israel-Palestine problem will not cure Middle Eastern society.

  80. Pres. Obama says "it was “absolutely true” that the United States had erred in its assessments of both the Islamic State — also known as ISIS or ISIL — and the Iraqi military."

    These failures are almost as bad as the Bush Administration's many failures in Iraq - to understand Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, had no WMD, we wouldn't be greeted as liberators, mismanagement of the post-invasion - but most significantly, failure to understand the culture and conflicts of the Middle East.

    Obama was so eager to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he didn't consider what would happen when we left.

    What hope is there for political outcomes in Iraq and Syria?

    How can our military offensives succeed without boots on the ground? Whose boots will they be?

    George Bush said we had to take the fight to them. What he didn't tell us was that this would only make things worse, and there would be no end to the fighting.

  81. Obama is now very concerned about the danger posed by ISIS - to Democrats' prospects in the midterm elections.

  82. Mmmm... let me guess. The One won't say *he* made a mistake... but mistakes were made by others.

  83. Ah yes..... The Bush/Cheney stratagem!!

  84. "President Obama acknowledges in an interview to be broadcast Sunday night that the United States underestimated the rise of the Islamic State militant group"

    No, Mr. President, "the United States" did not underestimate the threat ISIS posed, but you sure did when you famously compared them to a JV team.

  85. John Boehner, second rate politician, you are NOT a military expert. Would you please shut up.

  86. Boehner is not a military expert? And Obama IS? Surely you jest.

  87. I suppose he feels distanced saying the US underestimated ISIS instead of owning the responsibility.

  88. This US-led and spearheaded aerial bombardment of the so-called Islamic State military and industrial sites has begun to look more and more like a war on a new and strictly Islamic country rather than a fight against a large terrorist group. And, no doubt as seen with other once moderate anti-Assad fighters now joining the ISIL, is becoming a Muslim rallying and recruiting cry worldwide, meaning the American-allied Persian Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia, can expect their refineries, pipelines, oil terminals, and oil and gas fields to come under suicide attacks that will slowly cripple their economies and ultimately see the Wahhabi-believing monarchies overthrown and beheaded by their own people.
    It didn't have to happen but instead is expanding and, warning, these suicide attacks will sooner or later hit the European, UK, Australian and American ports and refineries and transportation hubs. It didn't have to happen. As recently as six months ago this horror could have been prevented through negotiation and economic pressure but the West and its allies chose war. It didn't have to happen.

  89. The United States' role in the Mid-East has evolved into a Plumbing Company, one that repairs the toilets of failed, militant, Islamic States.
    There does not appear to be any daylight between ISIL and the leading Imam within the royal court of Saudi Arabia, and after a century of deception, procrastination, and duplicity by the inner circle of the Turkish regimes, it is starting to dawn on the White House, that we don't have a single friend in the neighborhood.
    Since our Arab brothers feel that our religious beliefs are contaminated trash, perhaps it is time for the US to send an invoice to our Mid-Eastern friends, a bill which reflects our expenses already spent on their behalf. If they feel so strongly that they alone have the true faith, I am sure that our superior brothers would not hesitate to pay for the direct results, in their respective nations, of their religious beliefs.

  90. The last time we engaged in bombing in the Middle East was in Libya. Since we left, they burned down our consulate in Benghazi, the country has fallen into anarchy, Libyan Islamists have become active jihadists throughout the Middle East and Libya continues to be a major source of weapons used elsewhere in the Middle East. The good think about bombing, supposedly, is that no one gets hurt but the bad guys. It didn't turn out that way in Libya, and it won't in Iraq.

  91. We underestimated ISIS? Gosh, yuh think? And whose job was it to get the estimate of ISIS right? The CIA? The NSA? Obama? Kerry? Somebody was really asleep at the wheel.

  92. It's nice to have a President than can admit an oversight after having one that couldn't admit a catastrophic failure.

  93. Nicer still would be a president that actually knew what he was doing.

  94. Seriously? Allowing the Islamic State to grow to its current strength when he could have done something about it long ago? That's an "oversight?" Calling them the "Jay Vee" team? This is "the smartest guy in the room?" Only if he's the only one in the room.

  95. Unfortunately the president didn't admit to an oversight. Instead, he blamed the U.S., which is no different than blaming a "committee", even though he is the Commander in Chief, and ultimately responsible for the American forces.

  96. Who is this WE that Warhawk Boehner mentions? Has he not caught on yet that the U.S. is not an extension of the Muslim Middle East et vice versa? The hatred of America that creates revenge-seeking like 9-11 is not caused by too little or the wrong kind of U.S. meddling in that part of the world. It is caused by ANY kind of U.S. meddling in that part of the world.That hatred and lust for revenge will simmer down only when we stop meddling. Seeking revenge is what makes Middle Easterners tick. It is what they live for. That is why they are best avoided. It is impossible to aid one without inflaming another.
    Has Mr. Boehner no knowledge whatsoever of the Arab mentality?

  97. At least he admits his errors. Unlike war criminal Bush.

  98. Until we and other countries recognize that we are not only fighting faithless terrorists, but also combating a distorted ideology we will never ultimately win. A successful strategy must include an ongoing worldwide outcry from the muslim world that the actions and belief of these extremists are contrary to Islam. So far, surprisingly, the President of Iran has notably said the extremist group and its affiliates, which have drawn recruits from around the world, do not represent the true teachings of Islam. “I am struck that these murderous groups call themselves Islamic,” he said. Now we need other leaders to step up.

  99. More overheated rhetoric from Republicans. ISIS is not al-Qaida and their primary target is not the US but the Middle East. US or other western ground forces are neither desirable nor welcome in the region, nor should they be necessary. ISIS must be dealt with by local forces with our support - it's the only way forward that makes sense.

    Obama's admission is certainly laudable but it's clear that almost nobody foresaw the pathetic collapse of the Iraqi army in the face of a not very formidable ISIS attack, least of all the assortment of Bush apologists, chicken hawks and Monday morning quarterbacks on the right who were the first to excoriate Obama.

    And it is still far from clear that bombing Syria and becoming involved in that mess is the right move. Note that no other western country has joined us on Syria.

    Obama's biggest fault to date is not seeking specific congressional authority for this campaign. As a constitutional lawyer he should, of all people, know better.

  100. Yes, but continue to trust us to know everything that needs to be known about everything else - like health care, the economy, climate change, need for governmental secrecy, the benefits of ever expanding surveillance of all US citizens, etc.

    Collecting & assessing knowledge about the various groups in Syria was an incredibly simple task compared to all those other issues. This failure is so blatant that it's quite disheartening that anybody still expects the government to be even moderately aware of the complexities of most problems in society. And even still expect it to be both competent & benign.

  101. Just about now our moron politicians are understanding why there is a dictator in Syria and why Saddam ruled with an iron fist in Iraq. Our response to 9-11 by the Bush and Cheney duo, known better as dumb and dumber, set in motion the continuous chaos in the region. Please stop listening to the republican rants, no Muslim is about to enter your bedroom and chop off your head. These militarized Muslims are doing what their religion exhorts them to do. Convert all they can to pious Islam and Sharia law and kill those that oppose them. It's the religion, stop making believe that freedom of religion should be extended to Muslims here or anywhere. They would not reciprocate if they were running things. If you're serious about stopping these insane people then their religion needs to be changed into a secular and tolerant version. Stop making believe this is not a religious war, it is, and it may last a hundred years.

  102. Underestimate = Obama

    'Misunderestimate' = Bush Jr.

    The world is vastly better off with a President who can speak English.

  103. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss! Who cares how well one speaks when you're faced with leaders like these.

  104. Proper use of language is a measure of knowledge, understanding, mental processing ability and culture.

  105. The issue is rather different. To the fore should firstly have come the Mr.Assad´s ouster and then the pending Iran´s nuclear threats.Afterwards international troops on the ground implacably fighting the ISIS wherever it can pose a threat with their lunatic ideologism and barbaric crimes. Airstrikes besides being too destructive also kill many innocent people not to mention the militants will certainly disperse at the moment of bombardment.

  106. If the U.S. somehow managed to underestimate the threat of terror groups in Syria before ISIL invaded Iraq (most of Al Qaeda in Iraq during the Iraq War came from Syria) then it's managing to do so again right now. Many of the other "moderates" who we support, though they may look moderate in comparison to ISIL, are also violent and intolerant. The only way to defeat ISIL for good and end the fighting in Syria is to negotiate a peace between the Syrian government and the other rebel groups. Otherwise, bombing isn't going to accomplish much except killing people and destroying infrastructure. And some of those people will be the wrong people, and most of that infrastructure will be necessary for people to really live in peace.

  107. Negotiate a peace between Assad and the people upon whom he mercilessly reigned down terror with conventional and weapons of mass destruction, murdering close to 200,000 of his own citizens. If the country of Syria were a dispassionate chess board, your suggestion would be interesting. However, if this suggestion were seriously considered, than humanity itself would suffer a mortal blow. We cannot reduce ourselves to the convenient over the moral, the easy over the righteous (no matter how hard that might be to acquire) or worst the most powerful weapons above the plain human spirit. Some things are worth dying for.

  108. Candid honesty; it will not go unpunished.

  109. Mr. Obama is passing on the blame to others. Military commanders advised the President often and strongly that a contingency combat ready force was clearly needed. Total withdrawal was Mr. Obama's judgement error. Furthermore, our allies in the region, Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia had often warned of the consequences of not supporting the Free Syrian Army and failing to bomb Assad after the use of poison gas. The sole responsibility for the current fiasco and the slaughter of thousands across Syria and Iraq lie squarely on Mr. Obama's shoulders. This is not about "underestimation". It is about a feckless, disinterested American President who's only concern is his legacy. Mr. Obama is a "neighborhood organizer". He is not Churchill, Roosevelt or Kennedy. Mr. Assad has gotten away with a blood bath. ISIS is spreading horror and tragedy across Syria and Iraq. Mr. Obama assesses blame and refuses to accept his own complicity and failure to provide strong American leadership. The barbarians are at the gates. “We just have to push them back, and shrink their space, and go after their command and control, and their capacity, and their weapons, and their fueling, and cut off their financing, and work to eliminate the flow of foreign fighters,” Mr. Obama said. That is not comforting. Bombing is not going to do the job. We all know it. However Mr. Obama can't even begin to grasp how meaningless his own words are. No courage. No leadership. Just blood.

  110. I could not have said it better.

    Obama's staunch supporters ability to rationalize his incompetence on this matter is beyond me. It reminds me of the followers of Brian in "Life of Brian".

  111. Tell me again why we went into Iraq in the first place?

  112. The biggest mistake the U.S. made was in firing Saddam's military in one fell swoop thereby depriving thousands of highly trained and experienced fighters of income for their families which, in turn, was a sudden shock to their role as providers.

    President Obama is fighting those same men today.

    The G. W. Bush administration should have used the Nelson Mandela method of forgiving everyone. Had we done that Iraq would have a far better military than it has today and we would not have the constant state of war that we have had in the Middle East.

    By retaining the soldiers we would have gotten to know each of them and could have weeded out the hard cases. I believe that many would have changed their politics instead of losing their paychecks.

    An American retired in Haifa, Israel

  113. You don't get it. That was their plan. Total destabilization of the region in hope of permanent war. It was never about making this a more livable space. This system of continuous war has been going on for decades and we're getting better at it. We're so good we no longer even have to explain our supposed ineptness to the gullible masses.

    "The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact." ---George Orwell

  114. To this member of the inept and gullible masses it seems that Orwell was warning us about a future that would not be beneficial to us, that we should not aspire to.

    The masses may be slow to come around but when we do there is no going back.

  115. I admire the President's candor although it will open him up to the gleeful political celebratory of those who will say, "We told you so."

    Make note: Boehner's "boots" are the shoes of Halliburton, who will gladly fly in, coming to collect the profits and spoils while others take the risks. Boehner ignores that half-trained irregulars, whose bravura is supported by the phantasmagoria of peers will quickly lose heart and resolve when Tomahawks begin to put "warheads on foreheads."

    The proper strategic choice is to go after revenue sites (oil production facilities), training, command, and storage centers first to weaken resupply, as the President is doing.

    May our troops be safe. Their mission work has been superb.

  116. To Walterhett: You are mistaken I take no pleasure in the President admitting he made a mistake. I want the country to be safe and the right policies to dictate our actions in the Middle East. Recognition by our President that his policies were mistaken is a step in that direction.

  117. Well said, Walter. Your approval of Obama's strategic but limited military action is exactly right. Clinton's Cruise attack on Al Qaeda's operations in Afghanistan were wildly criticized by Republicans, but later it was found from captured documents that they were very effective, as was his containment policy in Iraq. The Bush team thought they knew better, and initiated a disastrous change in direction that resulted, not in a civil war in a Middle Eastern country, but an attack directly on the US, followed by doubling down on further disaster with the destructive destabilizing attack and occupation of Iraq. It seems on reflection that there is a clear choice here between the Clinton/Obama strategies of relative restraint and effective use of force versus wild overreactions fueled, in the end, by a psycho-political mindset of paranoia and insecurity.

  118. Pete...do you really think 9-11 was planed AFTER Bush took office? And because of Bush's policies? Well, at least you seem to acknowledge (finally) that, going forward, as you firmly embrace the "Clinton/Obama strategies of relative restraint...", you will no longer claim any of President Obama's future blunders to be "Bush's fault"...

  119. I think that's a huge step for Obama, to admit he was wr-wr-wrong! Americans want a president who is honest with us, who can admit mistakes. We're not looking to crown a king or anoint a god - everyone has faults, presidents too, but Obama is by far the most unable to accept he erred. Maybe this is a turning point? Naw, elections are nigh. :-)

  120. Mr. "I got Bin Laden" needs to man up and take responsibility for his mistakes as quickly as he seeks glory for successes. It was not the "US" who called ISIS the JV that was Obama. It was Obama and his administration that underestimated ISIS.

  121. Saddam Hussein would not have allowed ISIS to gain any kind of a foothold in Iraq.

    They are a creation of American interference in the Muddle(d) East.

  122. A lot of people figured out that ISIS was a menace BEFORE the first beheading.

  123. We did not underestimate the threats, the rest of us saw this blatantly coming. That Obama failed to recognize this is unsettling.

  124. Why do we in the United States always have to do the killing? Why is it our soldiers do the dirty work getting killed or having their limbs blown off? Let the Europeans put "boots on the ground" this time.

    With the mass beheadings, mass live burials and mass sale of women into slavery, it seems these young men of ISIS have stepped outside the human family and become monsters. Killing them off would not be that hard as they have solved much of the problem of collateral damage on their own by driving the civilians to flight. The rules of civilized warfare do not apply here. We should use cluster and fuel-air munitions and other less conventional weapons instead of putting our soldiers at risk.

    Our efforts should be directed at domestic security, that is, keeping people from these parts of the world out of our country, Europe, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. No more immigration from dangerous countries. Likewise, our citizens should be banned from traveling there and detained if they do.

  125. Them other folks? Collateral damage.



    So now we spend $7,000,000-10,000,000 per day to keep IsIs from running in the front door of the White House!!

  126. " The rules of civilized warfare do not apply here. We should use cluster and fuel-air munitions and other less conventional weapons instead of putting our soldiers at risk."

    Why not use tactical nuclear weapons that would be even more effective and send a message to Islamic extremists at the same time.

  127. Seems our intelligence about Iraq is not so great, which raises the question of what we were doing there in the first place - and what we are doing about getting smarter.

  128. All those billions spent to create a non Baathist Iraqi Army when we could have just kept the former Iraqi Army and avoided the entire ISIL/S experience. On the other hand, we could have kept Saadam and avoided the entire Iraq war. Save a trillion and a few hundred thousand casualties.

    Does any of the collapse of the Iraq Army remind you of the collapse of the ARVN? The creation of the non Baathist army seemed like Vietnamization all over again, with similar results. This time Bush Jr chose to support folks who supported Iran instead of Johnson choosing the side of the landlords.

  129. When you use the term "Bush Jr" do you mean George W. Bush or President Obama? The term could apply to either.

  130. "On the other hand, we could have kept Saadam and avoided the entire Iraq war. "

    We could have kept Saadam as our surrogate for war with Iran and would not have to worry about the mad mullahs ever getting the A-bomb.

  131. Everything about Iraq is about OIL...The media drowns us with these stories that do nothing to help everyone..Stop giving arms to people who then use the weapons on us(like Saddam/the Taliban...and this is the people we found out about)..By the way the Arctic is melting out of control ..so stop using fossil fuels..The media has destroyed our Democracy An informed citizenry is essential

  132. Obama is on record during the ISIL advance that it was okay with him because it would put "pressure" on al-Maliki. Well, that part certainly worked. ISIL is still in the environs os Baghdad, however. What Obama fails to do is underscore the pell mell rush to pivot the rebels who helped topple Khadafy into Syria to do the same to Assad. Indeed, Obama has to acknowledge that the CIA trained many jihadists in Jordan for that mission. Now he tries to wash his hands by blaming ISIL on disaffected Sunnis fed up with al-Maliki and on the feckless Iraqi military trained and paid for by the United States. One may well wonder what further miscalculations Obama will make along the way to Damascus, the true and intended target of all his machinations. The killing of the leader of Al Nustra was a major blunder, duly downplayed in the US media, which chose to focus instead on the nebulous and hitherto unheard of Khorasan group. Obama is now fully on record for the widening of the war into Syria. Will he be any more effective than his predecessors in putting the genie back into the bottle? Only time will tell.

  133. Mass murder of innocents is an inevitable part of war...oops, my bad? Just...stop!

  134. isis thinks we are weak and we are--they know we lost the Korean war, the Vietnam war and the Iraq war--they know we do not have a "draft" and depend on volunteers--they believe we are soft and corrupt and we are. I'm an 85 year old ex-marine and oil company executive and I see my country as in decline--look at the culture, education system, crime and poverty and tell me it isn't!

  135. Bush erred in stating that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. And with that error, Bush started a war without end there. He never acknowledged his error and says that history will bear him out. Obama admits his error. My question: with the supposed premier intelligence agency at our disposal how do our leaders make such "errors." Do they choose to ignore the intel right in front of them for political reasons? And, if they do that -- which history tells us was the case with Bush -- what are we as citizens to do with these costly long term mistakes?

  136. "United States underestimated the rise of the Islamic State militant group while placing too much trust in the Iraqi military, allowing the region to become “ground zero for jihadists around the world.”"

    Who called them the jv team, the US or Obama? Even now he cannot take personal responsibility.

  137. The Muslims will keep fighting as long as we keep sending our military over there, and as long as we keep meddling in their politics and bribing their leaders. This is just another trillion dollar extension in the war to secure Arab oil for International oil companies. Islam, fundamentalist or mainstream, has little to do with this military action.

  138. Is it any coincidence these fundamental intelligence failures lead to trillions of dollars in military spending?

  139. As a Democrat and Obama supporter in two elections I can only say that it would be helpful if his administration would not throw 'the book' at every whistle blower and journalist who reports facts the administration would rather keep secret, and instead started listening to the people who know, rather than the ones who say what the administration wants to hear!

  140. At least our President is acknowledging that we underestimated our enemy, his administration is not proclaiming, "Mission Accomplished" When Fadhli is confirmed dead we'll have a 'gotcha' from our cautious President. The Republicans are at it again-Boots on the ground.The President has firmly said, "No American Boots on the Ground". That is what the American citizenry want too. Republicans,stop this rhetoric and let's get back some of our lost credibility back Let's not have colonies like the British and the French who are really responsible for these chaos. Indiscriminately lines drawn does not maketh a country. All the mayhem we are now witnessing is an unraveling of those lines.

  141. Mr. Obama apologized for the USA, but failed to note that he himself, that is Mr. President Barak Obama President of the USA is commander in chief eg where the buck stops. He has long been considered slow to engage overseas and I believe this is a prime example of how that can sometimes go awry. One size in foreign policy clearly does not fit all. Finally as Commander in Chief, it would seem incumbant upon the president to address us citizens directly concerning specific strategy of what happens next - our boots, their boots, no boots, what size boots - 5,000 or 20,000? Right now while we and our allies are picking low hanging fruit, there does not appear to be chainsaw anywhere in sight.

  142. I don't get it.

    We're told the NSA intercepts every phone call in the world, every computer keystroke. Satellites looking down from the sky, every financial transaction tracked.

    Yet terrorist behead our people with impunity.

    And disturbed veterans walk up to the White House door and find it wide open.

    What is this disconnect between the omnipotence of information and impotence of action?

  143. That there's a difference between 'gathering' such information and 'knowing' what it is you've gathered so you can act on it. We're quite good with the gathering, but bad with the knowing what we've got.

  144. The US intelligence establishment is ridiculously naive. It really is pathetic.

  145. For all those cynics and young people who like to say, as Ralph Nader did in 2000, that there is not a dime's worth of difference between the Democrats and the republicans, I give you exhibit "A".

    At the end of his first term in 2004 George Bush was asked by the press in an open, televised news conference if he could think of anything he would change if he could from the past almost four years.

    Bush said he couldn't think of a single thing he would have done differently.

    It took this president, what, a few months to realize he made a mistake regarding ISIS?

  146. It seems we have the Rove/Palin Wednesday night Bingo club posting in force on the boards here, with pointed and excoriating words for our president: ridiculous hair-splitting of words and semantical gymnastics typical of the extreme right, which simply hates a human being. The extreme fringes of the far right seem to have no desire to actually support any effort to keep our sons and daughters safe by being careful about sending troops to fight this death-cult, which will have no mercy at all on US captives.

    This is not patriotism at all. This is a school-yard grudge that's blossomed into a national movement of rank immaturity.

  147. Mr. President. This is your most important job and you're saying you flubbed it? You cannot call a war a war, but you had better not continue to let us down (drown). Ft. Hood was not a workplace incident. Start listening to your generals. Even Putin warned you about the Boston Marathon bombers. If this was a real job you would be fired.

    These jihadists are in our country. It's time you begin admitting you don't know it all and start protecting this great democracy.

  148. Harry Truman, where are you when we need you? But I place plenty of blame on the Republicans, too. They act like the Democratic Party of old—AFU. A pox on both your houses! What America leads is an intelligent, tested, focused leader. Yet, who wants to go into the pit with all these vipers—here at home, I mean.

  149. Wow.....
    The Cheney/Bush Crime family never made any mistakes involving terrorism or the fight against it.
    St. Ronnie NEVER made any mistakes assessing terrorist threats.
    Indeed St Ronnie set the paradigm with his reaction to the Lebanon bombing of the marine barracks.

    Lesson learned Barack?

  150. How much of this performance can we attribute to the Central Intel Agency and its gruff director?

  151. The only "error" that Mr. Obama can be accused of is that he or no one in his administration understands the mind of a religious "barbarian."

    But, to be fair to Mr. Obama very few people in this country are able to understand this mindset.

    This goes for political jackals like John Boehner or John McCain and certainly not those who are bringing up the vacuous tirade that our nation should be supporting the so-called Syrian "freedom fighters" even though we still don't have any idea of what type of "freedom" they are supporting.

    As painful as it may seem, there is no real way to pick a winner when you have a civil war fueled by religious extremist factions.

    Instead, it may be best we use a page out of the Cold War and understand that siding with depots like Bashar al-Assad of Syria or Ali Khamenei or Iran has its uses in keeping a lid on irrational religious extremism in a region that sees little chance in the foreseeable future of having so-called western-style democracy.

  152. The question is " Are the people in Washington that hold leadership positions and are responsible for the direction of our country really this stupid?" We keep hearing that we are fighting terrorism, trying to keep America safe, etc, etc,. We are fighting an ideology, one that you will never change. Democracy as we know it will never be embraced by tribal cultures. We are the cause of the instability in the middle east. It didn't happen by itself. Obama said that the US made a mistake in assessing ISIS, no, he made the mistake along with George Bush and now we will pay the price for generations to come.
    His followers can fawn over him as long ass they want to but in the end he is a failed leader. The only thing he has been able to accomplish is to strengthen the Democratic Party and he did that by building a welfare state inhabited by illegals, the unemployed, and the poor me's.
    The mistakes, the waste of treasure and lives in the middle east will be Americas downfall. We need to extricate ourselves from the entire region and let them sort it out for themselves.

  153. I like most Americans, especially those who have been "Over There" wanted to believe that the long war would end by recalling our troops and leaving our Allies, such as they are, to fend for themselves. After a trillion dollars and another billion in broken spirits and bodies we saw what we wanted to see and heard what we wanted to hear. Our enemies targeted the West and especially the U.S. many years prior to 9/11 and this war will continue until our the grandchildren of our enemies and those who support them come to an Islamic reformation and we in the West and China and India find another energy source. ISIS is a prison gang with AKs, RPGs and armored vehicles sustaining itself by selling the modern economies oil and our own citizens, just like any other organized crime syndicate selling narcotics and engaged in human trafficking and kidnapping. As for the Prez, I can't blame him for dreaming and hoping for a peaceful way out of this mess, because we all shared the same fantasy.

  154. One trillion? Guess again!
    How about 2 trillion when you factor in the care for hundreds of thousands of wounded veterans!

  155. President Obama will be vitriolically slammed for "underestimating" ISIS, but his actual mistake was in overestimating America's intelligence services. Busily amassing data, making policy, and reveling in operations, it has lost its original and most important ability, the honest analysis of information for the benefit of our political leaders, the ones legitimately entrusted with making decisions.

    Our intelligence apparatus has not only become the vast, inefficient, self-serving, government bureaucracy President Reagan warned about but, worse, has become highly politicized, its leaders making themselves "more important" by pretending certainty that doesn't exist and by telling Presidents that what they already think or hope for is right.

    Contrary to the proclaimed expectations of the C.I.A. et al, Cubans did not revolt with the Bay of Pigs invasion, the dominoes did not fall in Southeast Asia, there were no WMDs in Iraq, and American democracy was not welcomed with flowers in the Middle East.

    Our Presidents deserve better, and the American people deserve a President who will enforce accountability of the intelligence community.

    The current danger here is the vilification of the President. As in autumn 1963, when hate becomes the currency of politics, there are always those who think they are doing the work of God, Bay of Pigs Veterans, radio mouths, or the flag to simply leave out "character", when they find themselves motivated to act by 24/7 character assassination.

  156. With regard to the Bay of Pigs, yes, you are correct . . . .but it was not lack of information that caused that tragedy, it was a LEAK of information! Very different scenario from what we have now with a president to does not listen to his generals, his advisors, or even the public, choosing instead to do as his ego dictates by issuing "executive orders".

  157. Once a foreign power puts “boots on the ground” in substantial numbers in any of these troubled areas, not only is the risk of sinking in a quagmire greatly increased, but there is also the certainty that that power's physical presence will be seen by many locals as an invasion and eventually an occupation. In turn, it has always been much easier to recruit fighters repel a foreign invasion or to expel a foreign occupation, thereby greatly exacerbating the foreign power's quagmire problems.

  158. "Ground zero for jihadists around the world." President Obama's words. Obviously meaning Iraq and Syria

    President Obama declared war on these same terrorists. The underlying factor...they pose a threat to our homeland. It seems to be grossly misleading. To say they are a threat to the powers to be in the Middle East would be a more accurate assessment.

    They pose a threat to our homeland...so they must be killed, is akin to the Obama killer drone strikes that has become his hallmark in his fight against suspected terrorists; they posed a threat, President Obama determined, and got high marks for killing them

    Was President Obama wrong, along with his enablers?

    We are now going through a stage in our country where our law enforcement officers are being scrutinized for their reaction when faced with "threats." The reaction of shooting and killing a suspect, because of a perceived threat that the police feel at the time. Surely it is wrong.

    Yet, President Obama's perception, seems to be based on the same premise...kill those that are a threat to our national security. If that now is a legitimate reason to go to war against those that are a threat, than President Bush was right in his war in Iraq, taking out Saddam Hussein. To think that Saddam Hussein was not a threat is fantasy

    With Obama's extended war in the Middle East, it is wise to compare Obama with Bush; the latter was forced into war with bin Laden's attack on us. Obama was to end wars...he failed and than some

  159. Amazing!!! Incredible!!! I am impressed by President Obama's and his staff's brilliance in discovering how deadly ISIS really is after three years of bumbling in the dark.

  160. Yeah, the NSA was too busy spying on loyal Americans at the behest of their corporate masters. Can't be bothered with real threats now, could they?

  161. The right to private communications that we have lost supposedly to stop terrorism hasn't stopped this (or the Boston marathon bombing). The entire terrorism narrative strains credulity. I don't think we have any idea what is true and what is not true anymore. Fool me once...

  162. Where are the Times graphics showing how many innocent civilians are being killed by American bombings?

  163. Mindless government, feckless intelligence, excess taxes to pay for endless wars.

  164. All designed to keep Americans terrified and under control!

  165. It was pretty incongruous that I hadn't heard ISIS identified specifically before this summer and when I did, the context was that they had taken over one third of Iraq.

  166. “We have no choice,” said Mr. Boehner, who previously said only that “somebody’s boots have to be on the ground.”

    The same politcal structure that has gotten us to a vast income inequality also says the above words. Then the poorest younger members of society, jobless and needing enough income to feed themseles, will be eager to take the ASVAB test and become the boots on the ground, even if they don't know the difference between Sunnism and Shi'ism. A perpetual motion machine, set into motion.

  167. Maybe CIA should think twice before creating such terrorist groups to wage proxy wars. Sometimes they can get out of your control.

  168. Barry is being dishonest in his attempt to blame US intelligence. He was repeatedly warned about the growing danger of ISIS a and chose to disregard the opinions of the intelligence and defense community. This fact is well documented.

  169. Yet another example of how President Obama is nothing at all like George W. Bush. Can anybody remember Bush acknowledging any mistakes made by himself and his administration?

  170. The President didn't own up to anything. He said "WE" as if to include his cabinet, the Pentagon, and his closest advisors.
    Which at this point, as we all know if you watched Leon Pannetta just last week on 60 Minutes, is just not true. The President underestimated ISIS - HE should admit it.

  171. No doubt Boehner would like another war in the Middle East to distract Americans from the failure of our government to solve our domestic problems. As Speaker of the House, he can claim credit for absolutely nothing but endless, unproductive squabbling with the White House.

    Obama has not done a brilliant job of cleaning up the mess Bush left in Iraq, but at least he admits that. His faith in the Iraqi government that Bush created and he supported was, he now admits, just wishful thinking. But so is the idea that the existing Sunni and Shia governments in the region will produce a political solution that will take the steam out of the jihadist movement. We cannot kill our way out of this problem, nor will the countries we're allied with come up with a political solution to it. This is going to go on and on.

  172. Mrs Fenwick,
    There used to be another popular Democrat President that used to live by the mantra " The Buck Stops Here "
    The country is 6 yrs and half way thru the second term of President Obama. At what point will you and others be honest and hold Mr Obama responsible for some of problems that continue to plague the country instead of: Republicans, Fox News, Tea Party, Koch Bros., etc. etc. etc.

  173. "Obama has not done a brilliant job of cleaning up the mess Bush left in Iraq, but at least he admits that. "

    Actually Obama said he ended the war in Iraq and there was stable government. This was during the 2012 election. Recently he stated he was not responsible for ending the war in Iraq. Obama has admitted nothing, though he has lied.

  174. In the interview I read Obama stated that the administration he runs was wrong about ISIS and about the Iraqi army. That sounds like an admission to me.

    When we withdrew our troops from Iraq in 2011, Obama said that the Iraqi government now had a chance to build a successful state. That was true. In his most recent interview he said they squandered that opportunity. That's true too.

    What he did not say is that there will never be any way to be certain that a government we create and arm in a country like Iraq can survive unless we remain in occupation permanently. And that the American people have no interest in doing that. But both of those things are true as well.

  175. Fresh fodder for the next slew of political ads that will be utilized to slam every Democratic candidate out there. I give it about a week to hit the airwaves.

  176. “absolutely true” that the United States had erred in its assessments of both the Islamic State

    Mr Obama YOU made the wrong assessment. Own up to it.

  177. We will not deter these extremists by fire alone. People rebel because of their moral background and because they have little to lose. Give them something to lose besides their lives and they will not be so quick to fight.(revolution of the Proletariat?) These people (not the leaders, the power hungry few, but the actual people) want peace, food, education, homes, family gatherings, their children to grow up and bring them grandchildren. Is it possible to change the moral compass of these people in a few years? EDUCATION might be a good place to start.

  178. I am so glad president Obama acknowledged HIS error.

    To err is human. All presidents make mistakes. Some acknowledge their mistakes. Others are too stubborn even to recognize even the most egregious among them. The invasion of Iraq was the greatest blunder, as Pat Buchanan said. If George W. Bush had acknowledged it, and criticized Dick Chaney for attacking Obama incessantly with daughter Liz, it would help the country. And he could rehabilitate himself to a modest extent at least.

    An Iraq veteran this weak-end said on Bill Moyers & Co, that half a million Iraqis have been killed as a result of the Iraq invasion. Then dismantling the Iraqi Army & installing Malike there, fueling the sectarian violence, eventually creating ISIS as the worst effect of that invasion! If in that chain of events, the second mistake of dismantling the army hadn't happened, much of this could have been avoided. Then the third big mistake of not kicking Malike out earlier. If he were dismissed in 2007, ISIS might not have been this strong at least, and a couple of hundred thousand Iraqi lives could have been saved. If George W. Bush would say these things, he would probably be forgiven. And we could be better off, from now on, I hope.

  179. ... the broader tensions between the populations that “are the biggest cause of conflict, not just in the Middle East, but in the world,” Mr. Obama said ...

    Since the 1960's the biggest cause of conflict in the world has been US military aggression. The Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars have done far more damage than tensions between middle eastern populations. Arguably, if we were not involved militarily in the region its populations would re-establish the equilibrium that existed before Bush/Cheney.

    Failing to learn the lessons of decades of military meddling, President Obama once more leads us to "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war". And apparently US administrations are exempt from war crimes prosecutions.

  180. Most of the "police actions" after WWII were proxy wars with the USSR. Usually, but not always, the USSR side started the fighting. Wars to oust freeish governments from colonial countries to create outright socialist "People's Republics of" one name or the other.

    They'd send in their advisors and supply weapons and we'd send in our advisors and weapons. Vietnam and Korea were simply the only ones that spilled over into (almost - no formal declaration) full scale wars. China also supported the North Koreans and North Vietnamese as well as the USSR. The US was hardly the lone player on the international scene.

  181. Even though he came across as an empty-headed cowboy when he'd say it, I kind of miss when our former president would claim not to care about the polls when questioned about the unpopularity of his war in Iraq. Who really knows how much Obama has settled on using half measures in order to satisfy the American public's extreme isolationism, and how much better served we would be if he felt free to apply the level of force appropriate to combat our enemies.

  182. Let's get real about the turns history has taken. The British Empire, built on the model of the Roman Empire, ruled the one quarter of the world from a tiny island. They controlled the world economy.

    Today's economy is increasingly globally intertwined and US based companies, supporting US capitalists and US jobs, are the foundation for it all.

    Our economy is under attack from the other side of the world. So maybe it is time to be openly imperialistic.

    Sorry, 1960s, Queen Victoria is calling and she wants her empire back. Sorry, Mr. President, but Imperialism is about to come back into fashion and you're supposed to be the boss of it.

    And thus began World War III. It will last the next fifty years. Good luck, kids.

  183. Mr. Obama says U.S. underestimated the rise of ISIS. This admission comes along with a picture of a roomful of "allies" who are apparently not only supposed to be supporting us but in fact are reported in many instances to be supporting those we have designated as enemies.

    We separate "suspects" and innocent civilians from their heads almost weekly with smart bombs and find that horror just another incidental fact of war. But when ISIS removes heads with a knife our media and leaders outdo themselves with self-righteous nausea and denouncement of the despicable evil of the acts as if they were morally different in results.

    The public can only ask Mr. Obama and his inept advisors what else they are underestimating as they leave an eleven year trail of their other failures and plunge ahead into a new unending war.

  184. As usual the president has an excuse for whatever mistakes are or have been made and they never indicate he is responsible. Always someone else has failed him. His lack of attention and understanding is catching up to him and our country.

  185. It's doubtful that Obama's military advisors told him to go out and publicly call ISIL the "JV." Those were his words, and they will live on just like George Bush's "Mission Accomplished" statement has.

  186. The President's comments will be edited an repurposed by the GOP agitprop command, and anyone living in a state where a Senate seat is being contested will soon be bombarded with ads tying the Dem candidate to this "failure to protect Americans."

    Count on it.

  187. Obama admits/acknowledges that he made a mistake underestimating ISIS? Wow........hard to believe that with his bigger-than-life ego who appears to be on a non-stop Democratic fund raising campaign that he would admit making a mistake. Must be a full-moon tonight.

    Skeptical, Jaded, Educated, Independent Manhattan Resident......!!!

  188. Rep. John Boehner:

    Ground forces will eventually be needed. By why US ground forces? Egypt has the largest army in the Middle East and Africa. It's sitting there doing nothing. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq have had NO problem coordinating among themselves to attack a state that had never threatened them -- Israel -- not once but four times WITH GROUND TROOPS. So now their troops get to sit out the fight against ISIS which threatens them more than us?
    The Ambassador of the UAE already said in Morning Joe that his country is prepared to do "whatever is necessary".

    Have the Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian armies contributed to your campaign?

  189. Somebody's boots have to be on the ground.......says Boehner. The key question is "why always ours." Is it because others--Allies or not--see it is too expensive, too politically incorrect, too 'hard' to sell to their constituents at home. I'm tired of footing the bill economically, militarily, and most importantly, on a human scale, so things can be 'Just as they were' for everyone else--even as we spent our treasure, and incur international scorn, and bury our young people. There has to be a quid pro quo somewhere. Please figure out someway to debit the accounts of the "moochers" who enjoy our attempts to keep the world safe and working with nary a thought to what it costs to do that. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Figure out a way to make those that enjoy the benefits of the way our world works pay for it.

  190. I'm not defending Obama and company. They hav enot handled things at all well.

    But Bush/Cheney were terrorists of their own making - war criminals. By increasing the worldwide hate level of the US, they contributed to today's conditions. And let's not forget who caused the economic crash and who appointed the current crop of Supreme Court politicians. The latter is George the Nitwit's true lasting legancy

    And is it not high time the worshiping of Reagan came to an end. St, Ronnie? He was a bad actor, but knew how to read lines from scripts given to him by his handlers.

  191. the u.s. has spooks, contractors on the ground way before the syrian civil war. the spooks trained and armed the rebels, now isis.

    the Iraqis and Iranians think the u.s. created the isis/isil. I don't think they're that far off.

    the u.s. just need an excuse to finish off the assad regime.

  192. If that's the case (Assad is the actual target) then it seems to me the President would have to be impeached.

  193. On the one hand you have a situation which has been underestimated, on the other hand rhetoric is used that analogizes ISIS to cancer, and promises of no boots on the ground. This is a slippery slope of an approach and rather than 'don't do stupid stuff' the question should be 'what are we underestimating?'.

  194. Now he throws the intelligence bureaucrats under the bus. Typical Obama.

    Unfortunately for Obama, the statements by Bob Gates, Leon Panetta, retired generals- even Hillary Clinton- are all around the place telling a very different story: he was told before taking the troops out of Iraq in 2011 that the current situation was more likely than not. Still he didn't care.

    This is how I see the situation. The ISIS/ISIL episode shows how dogmatic Obama is. His "dogma" is made of the ideas expressed in his 2009 Cairo speech. It boils down to this: the US brought terrorism onto itself for not listening to the needs of the Muslim world and for being too reckless in the Middle East, thus, the solution to the problem of Islamic violence was necessarily to retreat from the Middle East and Afghanistan as quickly as possible.

    Our US military applied his "solution", despite strong objections by the military commanders on the ground, so that Obama could learn the hard way the words he uttered this week in the UN,

    “There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.”

    That's something that GW Bush already knew 13 years ago

    They say that is is better late than never. True, but in this case if Obama had listened in 2011 to the military there might not be ISIL to fight at all.

  195. We could have stayed in Iraq for another 10 years, spending another trillion dollars 'training' the Iraq military. It is clear that the Iraqis were very comfortable having us do the heavy lifting while they sat on the side lines. 10 years from now we would be in the exact same place and a trillion dollars poorer, not to mention the lives lost in the process.

  196. Ethan CA - You're100% correct! Thank you!

  197. No, Obama erred. His senior military officials warned him.