Militant Islamist fighters parade on military vehicles along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014.
Reuters

What ‘taking ISIS seriously’ looks like

Updated
In his latest Sunday-show appearance, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told ABC News yesterday that he’s convinced President Obama “has not demonstrated that he’s taking ISIS seriously.” (This, in turn, “increases” his “interest” in a national campaign, the right-wing senator added.)
 
Reality, however, paints a very different picture. Indeed, I’m not sure how much more Obama could do to “demonstrate that he’s taking ISIS seriously.” Over the weekend, for example, the U.S. military launched “a fresh series of airstrikes” on ISIS targets near the strategically significant Haditha Dam.
Near the dam, American warplanes pounded ISIS armored vehicles and antiaircraft artillery late Saturday and early Sunday while Iraqi ground troops attacked villages held by ISIS fighters. It was exactly the kind of operation that President Obama described at a news conference in Wales on Friday when he talked about how the United States and its allies could fight ISIS: Use American warplanes to drop bombs while coordinating with local ground troops to reclaim and hold territory.
And for a leader who’s not taking ISIS seriously, Obama seems to have invested considerable energy in creating an international coalition to respond to the terrorist group.
President Obama escalated the American response to the marauding Islamic State in Iraq and Syria on Friday, recruiting at least nine allies to help crush the organization…. Obama said the effort would rely on American airstrikes against its leaders and positions, strengthen the moderate Syrian rebel groups to reclaim ground lost to ISIS, and enlist friendly governments in the region to join the fight. […]
 
Diplomats and defense officials from the United States, Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark huddled to devise a two-pronged strategy: strengthening allies on the ground in Iraq and Syria, while bombing Sunni militants from the air.
The significance of such a coalition goes well beyond practical and logistical considerations. As Rachel explained on Friday’s show, “ISIS desperately wants itself to be at war with the United States. They want a one-on-one bilateral fight where they’re the Muslim side and America is the other side. They want America to be at war with them. Instead of giving them what they want, President Obama is instead basically pulling a Poppy Bush and Colin Powell a la Gulf War I, basically trying to organize the whole world for a unified action against ISIS as a universally reviled threat.”
 
It’s the sort of thing a U.S. leader does if he’s “taking ISIS seriously.”
 
So, by the way, is this.
President Obama will lay out his plans for dealing with ISIS in a speech on Wednesday, but those plans will not include a major ground offensive, he said in an interview on “Meet the Press” Sunday.
 
“This is not going to be an announcement of U.S. ground troops,” Obama told host Chuck Todd. Upcoming military action will likely include further air strikes and efforts to shore up Iraqi forces. “The next phase is now to start going on some offense,” the president said. “It will be “similar to counterterrorism campaigns that we’ve been engaging in consistently over the last four, five years.”
Presumably, Congress may want to think about doing something on this issue.
 

Foreign Policy, ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and Ted Cruz

What 'taking ISIS seriously' looks like

Updated