U.S. President Barack Obama is caught between Republican demands and Democratic resentment and is unable to reconcile the two. Thus, he also fails to appear sufficiently persuasive and serious in the eyes of the American people and policymakers.
Although the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee approved a request by Secretary of State John Kerry to extend the mandate to confront the Islamic State, this by no means demonstrates that U.S. lawmakers are satisfied with how the administration is confronting the challenge, which coincidentally, seems more like disaster management.
Secretary Kerry’s request entailed extending authorization to battle the Islamic State group for another three years. Speaking in terms of a lack of vision, the request extends the mandate beyond Obama’s term in office, which leads one to believe that the current administration is resolved about its inability to solve this problem. Furthermore, the extended mandate means that this problem will plague the next administration for years and years as well.
This is not a strategy by any means, and it reflects the confusion within Obama’s administration as well as the impatience of the American voter who voted out many Democratic members of Congress, depriving the president of a majority. According to Republican opponents, military victory requires a direct and clear plan of action against the Islamic State group, even if this means American boots on the ground in Iraq.
It is known what the Obama administration is willing to do to achieve its goals. Furthermore, it is difficult to predict what will develop in the region, despite indications that the confrontation will escalate and spread to multiple fronts, while the Islamic State group may lose influence in some ways and gain influence in others.
At the end of the day, Republicans seem bent on war and invasion again. It is unclear whether they realize the potential losses they will incur if they directly engage in this conflict, or whether they have learned any lessons from the invasion of Iraq. It is also unclear whether this will factor in the upcoming presidential election, working against Democratic opponents and in favor of Republicans who sit on the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee and who vote against the president's proposals.
In any case, Obama, who now faces significant opposition within his own party, will butt heads with the Republican majority who have taken the reins in the legislature as a result of the newly elected Congress. The Republican strategy will become apparent during this confrontation, and although we may see a change in approaches to the problem, it will be a mere formality while nothing substantial is done.