President Obama has been accused of excessive caution in responding to outrageous acts of violence by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). However, when you look at how his predecessors have fared in dealing with the various brigands and fanatics who frequently appear on the Middle East stage, caution definitely seems to be indicated. Jimmy Carter had a 444-day Iranian hostage crisis that drove him from office. President Reagan had the Beirut barracks bombing during his first term, and the Iran-Contra Affair during his second (not to mention the Lockerbie bombing). George H.W. Bush crushed Saddam Hussein’s ambitions in Kuwait, but left the dictator in place to brutalize others. Bill Clinton got run out of Somalia by warlords, and then suffered repeated setbacks at the hands of al Qaeda. George W. Bush fared the worst of all, bogging down in Afghanistan and destablizing Iraq. Thus, President Obama’s deliberative, multilateral approach to dealing with ISIS isn’t a sign a weakness, it’s a sign of wisdom. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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