Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc, Turkey on Oct. 18, 2014.
Photo by Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

When airstrikes on ISIS targets go unnoticed

Former New York Gov. George Pataki (R), gearing up for a long-shot presidential bid, sat down yesterday with NewsMax TV to talk about current events, and host Steve Malzberg seemed particularly interested in exploring the ISIS threat. Malzberg showed the former three-term governor a clip of President Obama saying the terrorist group isn’t an “existential” threat to the United States, and both the guest and host were incredulous.
MALZBERG: Aren’t they [an existential threat]?
PATAKI: They’re a tremendous threat to the world order. You have ISIS that is looking to establish a caliphate again across national lines. […]
MALZBERG: So world is [the president] living in?
PATAKI: I have no idea what this president has dreamed of in foreign policy for the last six years….  It’s very simple, Steve: the most important thing government does is to provide for the security and the safety of its people. I fear we are not remotely doing enough. We have got to attack these terrorist groups overseas before they have a chance to attack us again here.
But here’s the thing: we are attacking these terrorist groups overseas. U.S. military intervention against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria began nearly six months ago, and there have been literally thousands of airstrikes against ISIS targets by coalition forces, with most of the offensives launched by American forces.
“We have got to attack these terrorist groups overseas”? OK, but isn’t that what the Obama administration’s policy has been for months?
The same thing happened the day before on ABC, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) insisted the United States must “aggressively … take the fight to ISIS” and demonstrate that “we’re willing to take appropriate action” against terrorist targets. It led Martha Raddatz to ask, “You don’t think 2,000 air strikes is taking it to ISIS in Syria and Iraq?” The governor didn’t answer.
I feel like this keeps happening: the right wants an air campaign against ISIS, while at the same time, the right overlooks the fact that such a campaign is already underway.
In mid-September, Fox News aired an on-screen message that told viewers there was “no military action yet against ISIS.” At the time, the United States had already launched nearly 200 airstrikes against ISIS – which clearly counts as “military action.”
This report ran around the same time.
If President Obama won’t act to defeat ISIS, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) says, Congress might move to force his hand. […]
 ”I am of support of going in and not sitting back, but creating a strategy of where we go,” McCarthy said in a radio interview with guest host Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) on the “Hugh Hewitt Show.”  ”And if the president won’t act, I think we have to take some action to move forward.”
“Won’t act”? At the time, the president had already launched over 100 airstrikes on ISIS targets, which made it hard to imagine what McCarthy was even thinking.
I’m all for Republicans – and Democrats, and journalists, and the public, and our allies – asking questions about the U.S. mission. Is it working? What’s the endgame? Is it realistic? Should the mission receive congressional authorization? What will it cost? Who’s likely to benefit?
But the prerequisite to having a credible debate about U.S. military intervention abroad is acknowledging that U.S. military intervention abroad exists and is already underway.