We Have Met the Source of Questionable Strategy and He Is Us

Paul Pillar

The voluminous commentary about President Obama's speech on going after ISIS reflects the usual mixture of genuine policy analysis and pursuit of political agendas. A prevalent misdirection exhibited both by those politically opposed to this particular president and those who support him, as well as by many of those who are neutral, is to assume that the strategy laid out in the speech is primarily the product of Barack Obama's thinking and preferences. It isn't. Many of us, if we took full account of current American perceptions and sentiments about ISIS, longer American habits in thinking about terrorism, and the political requirements of serving as U.S. president could have written pretty much the same speech. The strategy in it is primarily the product of those public perceptions, sentiments, and habits, which are too strong for most American politicians, including those in Congress as well as the White House, to resist.

We cannot read Barack Obama's mind, but the frequently voiced comment, mostly from confirmed critics of the president, that he only slowly realized ISIS to be a serious menace and is belatedly recognizing the need to act forcefully against it is very likely incorrect. It is far more probable that the president's assessment of the group and of the costs and risks of the various measures that might be taken against it has stayed fairly constant. What evolved, and evolved rapidly, was the public alarm about the group. This latter interpretation conforms more closely to how we have seen Barack Obama operate and how we have seen American public opinion (and the political responses to it) operate. Mr. Obama had tried (somewhat, though not hard enough) to convey a careful and reasonable assessment of the group's significance, and of the downsides of possible further U.S. actions in the Middle East. But reasonableness lost out to a groundswell of public sentiment.

There will be disappointments and failures in some of the measures the president described in his speech, and some of the risks involved are apt to materialize into serious costs to U.S. interests. The failures and costs, as well as whatever successes might come from the measures to be taken, should be attributed less to the mind of Barack Obama than to the collective mental habits of the American public.

The most fundamental respect in which this is true is with the overall degree of alarm about ISIS, which far exceeds what would be warranted by careful and sober analysis of the threat that this group, notwithstanding its abhorrent brutality, poses to U.S. interests. Prevailing public sentiment has equated gains in dusty territory in the Middle East with the threat of a terrorist spectacular in the U.S. homeland. The American public is basing its perception on emotion, and its record in gauging terrorist threats that way is poor. It reacts to the past rather than assessing the future. It is reacting now not only to the past trauma of 9/11 but to also to the gruesomeness of recent videotaped killings of captives—which does not tell us much more about ISIS than we already knew, apart from confirming the group's willingness to do deadly things in response to U.S. use of force against it, which does not constitute an argument to use force.

The American public looks at terrorism in general not as the timeless tactic that it is but rather in terms of its embodiment in specific named groups or individuals—“the terrorists”—whom the public believes must be eliminated. This view overlooks the frequently changing roster of groups emerging and dying, splitting and metastasizing. It also overlooks the whole motivations side of when and why anyone either joins or forms a group that has used terrorism, and when and why a resistance group already in existence would resort to terrorism, especially terrorism against the United States. And it overlooks whether mounting a very visible campaign against a group may play into the group's own plans and ambitions.

The conception of counterterrorism as consisting of the elimination of a fixed group of bad guys is related to the further American inclination to equate counterterrorism with use of military force. The whole “war on terror” metaphor exacerbated this unfortunate tendency. Military force is only one of several counterterrorist instruments, it is not necessarily the best one to use in any one circumstance, and the sorts of terrorist activity that ought to worry us the most present few good military targets. Disproportionate emphasis on the military instrument also tends to be associated with underestimation of the counterproductive effects that ensue when collateral damage leads to more anger and more motivation to resort to terrorism.

This emphasis also has been associated with the argument advanced by political opponents of Mr. Obama that somehow if he had found a way to extend the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond the eight and a half years it had already lasted that ISIS would not have been a problem. This argument has always been rather rich, given that ISIS, under a different name, came into existence as a direct result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and overthrow of the incumbent regime. The historical amnesia involved with the argument extends as well to events later in the last decade, when even the “surge”—although it temporarily reversed the escalating violence in Iraq, as 30,000 U.S. troops ought to have been able to do—failed to achieve its more fundamental objective of making possible political accommodations in Baghdad that in turn would make possible stability in Iraq. This experience shows how especially fanciful is the notion that a later and smaller presence of U.S. troops would somehow have made Nouri al-Maliki behave like a good prime minister who would practice inclusive and non-authoritarian politics.

Another recurring pattern in the American public philosophy that is not unique to the issue of terrorism but has been been especially apparent with it is that, simply put, any problem has a feasible solution, and that it is within the power of the United States to achieve that solution. If a serious problem persists, according to this view, then it is only because incumbent U.S. policy-makers have lacked the will or the smarts to find and implement the right solution. This mindset will be the basic source of disappointment with any expectation of “destroying” a terrorist group rather than just degrading or containing it.

The same mindset also keeps knocking up against reality in Syria, where there have been no good solutions, for the United States any more than for others to implement. Here is where we hear another recurring “if only”argument from opponents of the administration, to the effect that if only more aid had been given earlier to “moderate” oppositionists, extremists such as ISIS would not have become as much of a problem as they have. This search for, and focus on, the elusive moderates has been such a salient issue for so long that it is a safe bet that it has been one of the most exhaustively studied topics for the administration, well before this week's presidential speech. Among the realities that any such study would have uncovered are that what passes for a moderate Syrian opposition has always been badly divided and lacking in internal support, that the dynamics of civil warfare inherently favor the less inhibited—by definition, less moderate—elements, that it is almost impossible to provide material aid to such elements without some of that aid making its way (as it already has) into the hands of the very forces such as ISIS that we want to counter, and that there is no way of squaring the circle of beating back ISIS without effectively aiding the Syrian regime that we also supposedly would like to be defeated.

But in a larger anti-ISIS arena in which good solutions also may be hard to come by, and in which the popular and political American resistance to reintroducing U.S. combat troops is still a major factor, we keep coming back by default to this business of trying to aid “moderate” Syrian rebels. Congressional pusillanimity plays a significant role here: members of neither party want to vote before midterm elections on an authorization to use U.S. military forces, but supporting anything about aiding the proverbial moderates in Syria is a no-U.S.-boots-on-the-ground way for members to show their anti-ISIS enthusiasm. Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, commented that “since there has been bipartisan support for arming the moderate opposition,” maybe the administration gave it a prominent place in its anti-ISIS package “because they thought this is the one piece that they could get a lot of congressional buy-in on without doing a lot of selling” He's probably right.

Yep, there is a lot in that package that deserves questioning and criticism. In searching for the reasons why, most Americans ought to look first not at the man in the White House but instead in the mirror. 

TopicsTerrorism Iraq Syria RegionsMiddle East

Obama’s Real ISIS Strategy: Reassure a Concerned Public

The Buzz

Anyone who tuned into President Obama’s address to the nation last night expecting to hear a detailed plan to defeat ISIS came away disappointed. The president spoke mostly in generalities and skirted tough questions. But laying out a detailed plan that would pass muster with experts wasn’t his primary purpose. Reassuring a public worried about the ISIS threat, and his response to it, was.

The one specific piece of news Obama announced was that 475 U.S. troops will head to Iraq to support and train Iraqi and Kurdish forces. He also said for the first time that “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria.” He didn’t, however, elaborate on what that action might look like or what circumstances might trigger it.

Obama was also specific in describing who ISIS currently threatened: people in the Middle East, not Americans. He only granted that ISIS might become a threat to the United States “if left unchecked.”

That assessment puts Obama at odds with his critics. It also puts him at odds with his own advisers. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has called ISIS an imminent threat to every interest we have,” while Secretary of State John Kerry said it poses a severe threat.” But Obama’s assessment does reflect the judgment of the U.S. intelligence community.

Obama similarly disagreed with himself, not for the first time, on the powers of the presidency. As a senator he argued that presidents needed congressional authorization before using military force. In 2011 he waged war against Libya without going to Congress. A year ago he did an about face and asked Congress to authorize him to strike chemical weapons sites in Syria. Last night he only said he would “welcome congressional support” for his effort to stop ISIS. He said nothing about what he might do to encourage Congress to give him the support he says he wants.

Obama also left many obvious questions about his strategy unanswered. Why is the new Iraqi government likely to be a more effective partner than its predecessor, which allowed ISIS to conquer a third of the country? Who are the other members of the coalition America is leading and what will they do? Can the United States degrade ISIS without strengthening Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who Obama has said must go? Have U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia, which the president held up as a model for attacking ISIS, been as successful as he suggests? And perhaps most important, what will success in the effort to degrade and defeat ISIS look like?

But Obama’s real audience was not the experts who are asking those questions today. It was the two out of three Americans who have come to doubt that he is up to the foreign policy challenges the United States now faces. They do not want another U.S. military intervention abroad, but they also worry that he has been too cautious in responding to a world that seems to be spinning out of control. Obama’s focus on reining in loose talk about the ISIS threat, ruling out the return of U.S. combat troops to Iraq, and stressing American leadership of a global coalition sought to quell the public’s dual fears that he is doing too little—or might do too much.

The question is whether Americans are still listening. Presidents in their sixth year seldom claim public attention in the way they did in their first. They have given too many speeches to move opinion by words alone. The public wants results.

Therein lies Obama’s fundamental problem. Good results could be hard to come by. ISIS became a threat because the very countries the United States needs to help defeat it are weak, ineffective, and (often) duplicitous. ISIS’s vulnerability to U.S. airpower won’t prevent it from using grisly spectacles like the recent beheadings of two American journalists to sow fear and mask its battlefield losses.

So as much as the president hopes to reassure Americans that he is meeting the ISIS challenge with “strength and resolve,” he could well discover, as did several of his predecessors, that events can be hard to tame, even for a leader of a superpower.

James M. Lindsay is Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair at the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). This piece first appeared at CFR’s The Water’s Edge blog here.

Image: Office of the White House. 

TopicsIslamic State RegionsUnited States

A Scary Thought: A Global Thirty Years War

The Buzz

From 1618 to 1648 Europe was torn apart by a devastating and ruthless war. It was waged with fanaticism nourished by religious extremism absolving soldiers from atrocities because it was God’s will and done in God’s name. Out of this debacle came the Westphalian system giving rise to the nation-state.

Fundamentally the conflict was about who should have the right to define ethics, norms, values, and behavioral patterns in a Europe baffled after Martin Luther’s challenge of the Catholic Church’ and digesting the societal repercussions of the information revolution introduced by Gutenberg.

The current global picture resembles this picture in many ways--raising fears that we may be in for a reprise, one auguring the same degree of fanaticism with destructive effects multiplied by the sinister use of modern weaponry and technology.

Armed conflicts – observers and politicians shy away from using the word wars - no longer take place between nation-states. Instead, they are among people and within people taking no account of national borders and passports. They focus on who you are and people’s cultural identity. Since 1945 the world has grosso modo been reigned by an American value system. The international institutions projected American power and this went well because the rest of the world looked on the American model as successful and wanted to emulate it. The Americans themselves saw the model as the best one not only for them, but also for other countries and was willing to allocate a considerable share of US national income to ‘export’ the model. What is happening now is almost the opposite. A large number of people who felt neglected and slighted even degraded and ‘put in their place’ solely because they adhered to a culture out of tune with the American value system revolt in a violent and sometimes hateful way. They feel justified in administering the same bitter medicine to the US as they had to swallow – cultural revenge.     

The US and its allies react - predictably - within the existing power structure and paradigm classifying the armed conflicts as among nation-states following the age old rules for such conflicts. They do not seem to have analyzed the evolving picture and underlying reasons. Therefore it is fast becoming asymmetrical warfare. The US and its allies register some results on the ground – encouraging them to go on – but have not succeeded in rolling the decisive attacks on the American global system back; on the contrary the attacks, in some cases pinprick attacks, gather sympathy and support from more and more hitherto marginalized people around the globe.

The conflict in Ukraine is easier to read and interpret than the conflict in the Middle East. President Putin says what he means and means what he says--albeit not saying everything he means! He depicts himself as the protector or patron of all Russians inside and outside of Russia stretching out to the ethnic Russians and/or Russian speaking people living in areas that used to be republics in the Soviet Union before its dissolution in 1991. The argument runs like this: The ‘West’ has extended the boundaries and ‘robbed’ Russia of its rightful place among the super powers, forcing ‘Russians’ to fight for survival in other countries inside an unfriendly  system often run by the same people who the Soviet Union treated as minorities – an humiliation without precedent in Putin’s eyes.

Putin is convinced that value based behavior (culture) among ethnic Russians are congruous, forming a strong bond, and justifying violating international rules, laws, and agreements. The ‘West’ is clinging to the rule bases international system anchored in respect for borders, nation-states and commitments. These two views cannot be reconciled. This is not a conflict about power balance that fits the pattern of well-known behavior seen over decades yes centuries; it is completely different and cannot be solved by applying analyses and methods originating from power balance recipes.

The same phenomenon can be detected full blown in the Middle East. The rebels or whatever label they should be given has changed name several times. From ISLS (Islamic State of Syria and the Levant) to ISIS (Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) to IS (Islamic State). This is no coincidence. Originally IS may have seen itself operating inside a nation-state and maybe using the nation-state concept, but now IS are trans frontier possible seeing itself governing people from Central Asia to the Atlantic Ocean.

No attempt is made to take over nation-states like Syria, Iraq or Lebanon. The goal is to brush aside these nation-states’ political systems exploiting the vacuum to establish a state (not a nation-state) for believers, followers, and adherents.

The ‘West’ counteroffensive is rooted in military ideology and thinking going back to von Clausewitz. His philosophy died with the end of the cold war. Conflicts which we encounter now may still be ‘war is the continuation of politics with other means’, but the difference is that the West links it to nation-states’ politics while the opposing groups do not.

The decisive power parameter in today’s world is the ability to shape perceptions; define in the eyes of a large majority of people what is right or wrong, permissible or not permissible, and justified or not justified. In other words shape a value based system that attracts and appeal to a majority of people - occupy the moral high ground defined by yourself!

Military involvement in Ukraine and the Middle East is unavoidable albeit its character and size is open for debate. Military ‘progress’ is welcome, but will only bring the ‘West’ closer to victory if the population living where the fighting takes place perceive such steps as necessary and proportionate to the situation. Even more important for the final outcome is whether potential or existing followers of the rebels outside the region itself read military results as a set back or defeat for the course - the endeavor to change the value system - pursued by the rebels.

Military engagement must be linked to a value based strategy aiming at winning the world opinion and in particular Muslims inside and outside the region for a systematic roll back of IS. The organization must not be allowed to present itself as innocent victims of the mighty American military machine fighting against US abuse of its power, denigrating and defaming Islam or for that sake other religions or identities.  In the same way standing up to Russia in Ukraine only gives hope of success if the ‘West’ manages to convince the global opinion that Russia is the aggressor violating not only commitments, but also behavioral patterns without which a global system cannot survive.

An optimist would glimpse a successful counter offensive staged by the ‘West’ promising victory. A realist discovers a disturbing picture of a conflict getting out of control. A pessimist has an inkling of a value based conflict going global haunting our societies for decades – in the same way as the thirty years war (1618-1648) did; a confrontation or rather a fight literally speaking about who has the right to determine the ethics, values, and moral norms in the future. Such a conflict will be evil and brutal. Fought among people it will divide families and groups hitherto safe in the conviction of shared and common values, but discovering that this was not the case. Worst of all: A value based conflict allows persecution, cruelties, oppression, even mass murder excused by referring to the victim’s different opinions.

Joergen Oerstroem Moeller is a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.

Image: U.S. Army Flickr. 

TopicsSecurity RegionsUnited States

Obama Grasps for his Foreign Policy Strong Suit: It’s the Terrorists, Stupid!

The Buzz

Barack Obama has struggled to avoid his presidency being defined by foreign policy.  Events have not been kind to this ambition.  Now, as the United States finally prepares to ramp up its military campaign against the ISIS threat in Iraq and Syria, last night’s speech can be understood as a calculated attempt to control the way in which the president’s entire handling of foreign policy is perceived by the American people.

Since entering the White House, President Obama has walked a tightrope between needing to address emerging threats to U.S. and global security while still appearing to keep to his campaign-era promises of curtailing America’s overseas commitments.  The truth is that Obama would like foreign policy to be kept off the political agenda altogether, preferring instead to focus on the very real challenges that face the country in terms of its domestic politics, society and economy.  Yet no president can ignore major foreign policy crises altogether.

The pervasive fear that America will be “dragged into” something resembling a rekindled war effort in Iraq—Obama’s bête noire during the 2008 campaign—has been particularly anathema to the president’s agenda of focusing on the domestic side.  The challenge posed by the Islamic State, then, has been one of selecting an appropriate response and of packaging that response for domestic consumption.  What is the correct mix of resolve and restraint?  Can ISIS be defeated without upending Obama’s six-year battle to steer the U.S. away from costly foreign entanglements.  Last night, Obama revealed his long-awaited formula for action.

Essentially, Obama’s answer is to characterize his strategy for dealing with ISIS as part and parcel of a longstanding and successful counter-terrorism effort.  This will not be a new war or even an entirely new mission.  Obama began by invoking his administration’s killing of Osama Bin Laden, the most celebrated scalp of what used to be known as the Global War on Terror.  The effort against ISIS, the president reassured his audience, will be a stable-mate of that successful campaign against America’s most hated enemy—something Americans can have faith in and get behind—and will not resemble the “dumb war” against Saddam’s Iraq that many fear a repeat of.

Obama believes that counter-terrorism is his foreign policy strong suit.  Implicitly, perhaps, the president sought to contrast his boldness at “taking the fight” to terrorists over the past six years with his predecessor’s folly in invading Iraq.  Although he has overhauled the rhetoric surrounding it, Obama has always favored prioritizing the war on terror when it comes to foreign policy.  Keeping to form, Obama last night was careful to stress the threat posed by ISIS to the U.S. homeland and trumpeted his administration’s controversial policy of using targeted airstrikes (including drone attacks) in places such as Yemen and Somalia as the sort of tactics that would be used to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS.  In short, Obama offered his audience a theme of continuity and reassurance, not dramatic change or knee-jerk reaction.

The president knows that his Achilles heel would be the accusation that he is allowing the country to slide towards another major conventional war.  Being painted as pouring more U.S. troops into overseas combat zones would be fatal to Obama’s image as a president who prioritizes “national building here at home” over the kind of unpopular foreign wars that allowed him to get elected in the first place.  The president’s specific proposals for dealing with ISIS were thus laden with language aimed at neutralizing this concern: the U.S. will launch airstrikes, not ground offensives; ground troops will shrink from combat roles and will not be “dragged into” a ground war; ISIS will be deprived of oxygen through other remote mechanisms.

Still, Obama knows that any sustained military effort against ISIS—however qualified and no matter how large the international coalition—will provide fodder to his critics.  Hawks will accuse the president of “too little too late” while others will charge him with abandoning the pledge to reduce overseas commitments.  It remains to be seen whether Obama’s conspicuous attempt to rally Americans’ optimism about their country’s future—both at home and on the world stage—will be enough to shield him from such flak.  His insistence that “Americans are united in confronting” the Islamic State was surely as much wishful thinking as it was a rhetorical attempt to engineer broad support for his policies.

Obama has been forced to act against ISIS against his best laid plans.  For years, he sought to limit U.S. involvement in Syria, desperate to avoid becoming embroiled in that complex and bloody conflagration.  His desire to pull out of Iraq is well worn.  With the security situation in the region reaching boiling point, however, the president has had no option but to respond.  His solution has been to grasp for what he believes to be his foreign policy strong suit—the narrative of counter-terrorism and using targeted military strikes to protect the American people from harm.

There is a difference, though, between the past six years of counter-terrorism under Obama and the impending campaign against ISIS: whereas previous actions against terrorist groups in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere have tended to be covert or otherwise kept beneath the public’s radar, this new phase of warfare has been launched alongside an explicit plea for popular backing.  Should that support vanish—either now or in the future—then the whole edifice of Obama’s counter-terrorism foreign policy could be called into question.  The implications will be far-reaching, lasting well beyond the final two years of this administration.

Image: White House Flickr. 

TopicsIslamic State RegionsUnited States

What President Obama Didn’t Say In His ISIL Speech

The Buzz

President Barack Obama had a lot riding on his prime-time speech to the nation last night.  In addition to publicly revealing the anti-ISIL comprehensive counterterrorism policy that the administration has been talking about for the past week, the president needed to use his plumb spot on television to assure the American people that he understands what it will take to degrade and eventually defeat this terrorist organization.  For the political team at the White House, Obama’s address was also an opportunity to set the record straight on his previous comments (ISIL is a “manageable problem,” “we don’t have a strategy yet,” etc.), stop the bleeding in his poll numbers, and begin a counterattack to the persistent criticism that Republican lawmakers have hailed his way.

As a general matter, President Obama succeeded in most of these objectives (getting congressional Republicans to praise his policy is more than a long shot).  The four-step plan that the president outlined to the American people during his 15-minute address hit all the right notes and will most likely add some points to what has been a tumbling foreign policy approval rating. 

Expanding the scope and frequency of the U.S. air campaign against ISIL targets in Iraq; potentially engaging in airstrikes in Syria; increasing military and logistical support to the Iraqi army, the peshmerga, and the moderate Syrian opposition; stemming the flow of cash and foreign fighters to the ISIL brand; and continuing to meet the humanitarian needs of the people under ISIL’s thumb are all necessary and noble aspects of this comprehensive anti-ISIL plan.  So far, the combination of aiding Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground with coordinated U.S airstrikes on selected ISIL targets has proved to be effective in recapturing territory, and the president is reasonable to believe that this winning formula should be employed to other areas of Iraq. 

Yet just as President Obama may have buried some of the lingering doubts that have circulated across the country about his leadership as Commander-in-Chief, his speech opened up another set of questions that will ultimately make or break his policy against ISIL.

The speech, for instance, was high on the benefits of multilateralism and on the outright necessity of forging a deep and lasting global coalition against the ISIL terrorism threat.  But beyond explaining why other nation’s needed to get involved in the effort, the president was virtually silent on the details.  He talked about the United States being “joined by a broad coalition of partners,” but neglected to tell the American people who in fact is participating in this coalition and what each of these members will be doing in order to pull their own weight.  Nor did President Obama acknowledge whether or not this essential coalition was even formed yet.  The fact that Secretary of State John Kerry is trotting around the Middle East and appealing for assistance from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and the Gulf States is an indication that this “broad coalition of partners” is a work in progress.

President Obama reminded Americans that U.S. combat troops would not be redeployed back onto the battlefields of Iraq.  Yet the “combat troops” label is somewhat of a misnomer: the brave men and women of U.S. Special Operations Command and Joint Special Operations Command will once again be tapped by the administration to retrain and salvage what has essentially become a demoralized and split Iraqi army. 

“In addition to providing weapons, ammunition and equipment,” the White House said in a fact-sheet released shortly after the president’s speech, “U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) will train and advise Iraqi forces, including Kurdish forces, improving their ability to plan, lead and conduct operations against ISIL.”  Arming, training, and advising Iraqis however, is not as mundane as it sounds; there is a slight possibility that the training program may need to be ramped up as the operation proceeds.  U.S. personnel may also be asked to put themselves in riskier environments to ensure that the training and embedding mission is done successfully.  The president was explicit is saying that “there are risks involved,” but evaluating the degree of risk is just as important.

Finally, President Obama announced that the United States will be getting far more involved in Syria’s civil war—accelerating the U.S. train-and-equip program for moderate Syrian rebels who are fighting on two fronts (against ISIL and Bashar al-Assad) and whose capabilities pale in comparison to the Islamic State.  If Congress agrees to the president’s request, $500 million will be available for the Defense Department as seed-money to supplement the smaller training program that the Central Intelligence Agency has reportedly been running for over a year.  Yet the question must be asked: is it too late for U.S. assistance to make a difference?  The Free Syrian Army is perhaps at its most fragile point since Syria’s civil war began, and the moderates have been begging for heavy U.S. military equipment for years now.  Will $500 million be enough money, and if not, is the president willing to double down on his strategy and expend more taxpayer funds to improve its chances of success?

If it hasn’t already, the administration must answer all of these questions, both before and during the implementation of the counterterrorism strategy.  But for now, President Obama took the first big step: drawing up a blueprint for action and focusing the entire U.S. national security bureaucracy on the same objective.

Image: White House Flickr.     

TopicsISIS RegionsIraq