Whatever message President Barack Obama intended to impart to the American people and the world Thursday by saying the United States “doesn’t have a strategy yet” to combat the terror group ISIS, it was the wrong one, retired Gen. Michael Hayden said Friday on Newsmax TV
's “America’s Forum.”
“Good marks for candor, but if the president were still on the links, that would've been a statement in which you would have said, 'I'm going to take a mulligan on this one,' and then go back to the bag and hit another ball,” Hayden said. “Whatever it was he thought he was saying
, it's certainly being read by observant folks like you and me and people around the world that we're lethargic, perhaps, and unsure, and frankly, not as alarmed as the situation might seem to indicate we should be. None of those are good signs.”
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Even if the president was attempting to float "strategic ambiguity" to keep ISIS in the dark, relaying an "absence of strategy" is a bad idea all around, Hayden said.
“In this case, I don't think you can make an argument that strategic ambiguity is our friend," he said. "Strategic ambiguity is what's allowing these guys to continue their expansion with what appears to be some degree of confidence."
According to Hayden, ISIS’ recruiting efforts
, much of which are taking place on social media, appear to be successful. Official data indicate there are about 10,000 “hardcore fighters,” with at least 100 of those from North America.
“It has global ambitions and now it's beginning to get the personnel and the means to strike at the West and the United States globally,” according to Hayden.
Posting “public displays of brutality,” such as the video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley and another showing 150 Syrian soldiers being marched to their deaths, appeals to a subset of “disenfranchised, disillusioned humanity” piqued by ISIS’ cause, according to Hayden.
No matter how good U.S. intelligence may be, it will never be able to compile a “perfectly complete list” of every American and westerner fighting for ISIS.
“It's so imperative that our response to this is not just better defense,” he said. “Our response to this is, well frankly, that the kind of thing that the president used to say about al-Qaida prior. We're going to dismember and defeat this organization so that it is not capable of attacking us in the homeland."
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