Acting and dressing like adults, but stretching the truth with the same elasticity as Jack Dawkins, the iconic character in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, the Republican candidates for president have once again become pickpockets of the reality of the Obama’s administration commitment to defeat ISIL.
Senator Ted Cruz in the previous Republican debate said President Obama ” is making the military fight the terrorist group with one hand tied behind their back.” Donald Trump repeated that the Obama administration won’t bomb oil installations (that help fund ISIL operations) because “of the carbon foot print it might leave.” In point of fact, in debate after debate, Republican candidates have implied that Obama is weak and ineffective due his unwillingness to call terrorists radical Islamists and for his limited use of ground troops, or advisers. As far as the GOP is concerned, the United States is not carrying out a major air-war campaign against ISIL, and as Trump would say, this proves why “we never win anything anymore.”
Since the 1980s, beginning with the campaign in which Ronald Reagan unseated Jimmy Carter for president of the United States, the Republican Party has used a broad brush to paint the Democratic Party as weak on national security. They used Carter as the poster child for being a weak and ineffective leader in foreign policy (this despite the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt) and have now attempted to shift that mantle to President Obama (the same president who took out Bin Laden and has overseen more drone strikes than any U.S. president). Now with less than seven months to go before the 2016 presidential election, the remaining three candidates for the Republican nomination have taken to characterizing the Obama’s administration plan for defeating ISIL as just one more in a series of political blunders by a Democratic president.
However, in their rhetoric, they have become skilled at dodging the facts and thereby altering the unalterable reality to their supporters. The United States, in conjunction with its allies, is waging a very redoubtable air campaign on ISIL.
These facts are undeniable when you first consider our military’s designation for this current action against ISIL: “Operation Inherent Resolve.” The defense.gov website gives the following details at its description of progress as of February 15, 2016: targets destroyed or rendered useless: 1,043 staging areas, 5,582 buildings, 6,720 “fighting positions,” 1,216 oil infrastructures, and 6,430 “other” targets.
These statistics do not sound like or support the notion that the Obama administration has taken a passive role when it comes to defeating ISIL. And when it comes to the cost of this operation so far, the price tag is over $6.4 billion and counting. To put that figure in perspective, the average daily cost has been $11.5 million per day for 557 days of operations. And this U.S.-led air campaign in December 2015 dealt a major blow by largely shutting down the Deir ez–Zor facility in Syria accounting for two-thirds of the Islamic state’s oil revenue, according to Col. Steve Warren, the U.S. military spokesperson in Baghdad.
In the coming weeks and months, Republican candidates will continue to hammer their democratic rival for president on their feckless foreign policy. If Donald Trump is the eventual nominee for the GOP, he will continue to say that America never wins despite the figures stated above. Even should a more “moderate” candidate like Governor John Kasich become the nominee, he will insist that only under a Kasich administration, instead of a Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders presidency, will ISIL be mortally wounded.
This portrayal by the GOP about the Democratic Party and its candidates is the essence of the GOP’s artful dodging. By substituting fiction for reality and hoping the majority of the American public disregard the opportunity to search the Internet and other sources for unbiased information, their message will by and large be accepted. In the age of of information the average voter in the United States seemingly ignores the accessibility of viable data.
For Republicans, this template will give their party persistent success with their base and will put Democrats on the defensive in general elections. And Charles Dickens’ 19th-century London and the Grand Old Party will have something in common, the artful dodger.