Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wi) said in an interview this week that President Obama not only facilitated the rise of ISIS with his reckless withdrawal from Iraq, his invasion of Libya, and his catastrophic half-measure in Syria, but he failed to grasp the significance of the terror organization until it was much too late.
“Whether it’s President Obama, it starts at the top – calling ISIS the ‘JV team’ – it’s just that denial of reality,” Johnson told Sharyl Atkisson on her radio show, “Full Measure.” “When it comes to Islamic terror, when it comes to our debt and deficit, my guess is [the Trump] administration, when you look at his appointments to his Cabinet, these are individuals from the private sector that have to solve problems dealing with real information, not denying reality.”
Johnson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, said he was optimistic about the Trump administration’s approach to ISIS and other matters of American security. “I’m hopeful that the new administration will approach the world fact-based, not afraid to acknowledge these realities and act accordingly,” he said.
Johnson said that defeating ISIS was central to simultaneously getting a handle on the “lone wolf” attacks conducted by independent, radicalized Muslims in the U.S. “We have to address it by taking it seriously enough and acknowledge the reality that Islamic terror is a growing, metastasizing, evolving problem and we have to address it,” he said.
It is probably pointless at this stage to re-hash all the mistakes the Obama administration made in regards to the growth of ISIS. What’s done is done. But the central mistake – the one Obama was still making on his last day in office – is still very much on the discussion table. Military blunders aside, Obama’s biggest failure was to minimize the threat posed by ISIS specifically and Islamic terrorism generally. Maybe he chose that path to escape culpability for those earlier blunders. Maybe he was “annoyed” by the way it distracted from his agenda. Maybe he really believed all the nonsense he shoveled for the last couple of years. Whatever the case might have been, it allowed this threat to grow and spread under his watch.
Of course, criticizing Obama no longer serves any purpose…unless it clarifies the only thing that matters, which is our path forward. Now is the time to correct the mistakes in our national approach to Islamic terrorism and, like Johnson said, it starts with being honest about what it is we’re facing. When Trump emphatically says “radical Islamic terrorism,” it’s about something much bigger than getting an easy round of applause from Republicans. It’s about signaling a new, clear-headed direction towards the war on terror. That’s what we need. Hopefully, that’s what we’re going to get.