Tags: America's Forum | Barack Obama | Exclusive Interviews | Homeland Security | Iraq in Crisis | Middle East | War on Terrorism

AEI's Rubin: Obama Doesn't Understand Need for Strong Military

By Melissa Clyne   |   Tuesday, 17 Jun 2014 11:08 AM

President Barack Obama lacks a clear understanding of the value of a strong military, according to the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin, author of "Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engagement."

"Obama has never understood that American military power is the finger in the dike preventing the deluge of chaos, and whether it's in the Middle East, whether it's in Crimea, whether it's in the South China Sea, it's always the same thing. He doesn't understand a strong military is essential to international peace, Rubin told Newsmax TV's J.D. Hayworth during the "America's Forum" show.

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There is a disconnect in Obama's words and actions, said Rubin, and a superficial show of support to the embassy with limited boots on the ground in Baghdad will do nothing to impact the situation there. The president is "all talk and no action," both in Iraq and in his overall foreign policy approach, he said.

If the Islamic terrorist group ISIS — the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — topples Iraq, it will move to Jordan, a strong American ally.

"After transforming Iraq into Syria 2.0, ISIS is going to set its sights on the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. Should Jordan fall, that changes the Middle East completely in a way we haven't seen in decades.

"The other nightmare situation is that ISIS manages to blow up one of the Shiite shrines. That's not only going to set Iraq aflame, that's going to set the whole Middle East aflame. Remember, Saudi Arabia produces its oil in its eastern province, which is populated by the Shiites. You don't want that area on fire."

Rubin cautioned that "what happens in Iraq, doesn't stay in Iraq," and the United States needs to look at the situation from a global perspective.

Teaming with Iran — an option being discussed — has perilous, and lasting, geopolitical consequences, Rubin said, adding that is not a route he recommends.

"The United States and Iran have a mutual interest in Iraq, but the way I tend to look at it is firemen and arsonists have a mutual interest in a fire. Just because we have mutual interest in a subject doesn't mean we're looking at it the same way.

"God forbid Secretary of State John Kerry blesses Iran's entrance into Iraq. The problem isn't getting Iran into Iraq, the problem is getting them out, and if you want any evidence for that, just look at Lebanon, where Hezbollah has been terrorizing that state for 32 years, including 14 years after the withdrawal of Israel from southern Lebanon."

The New York Times reported Monday that a senior U.S. diplomat has met with his Iranian counterpart to explore the possibility of the two nations working together "to create a more stable Iraqi government and ease the threat from Sunni militants."

Kerry has said the Obama administration would consider working with Iran to stabilize Iraq, and while Obama maintains that the Iraqis must "bridge their divisions" if they want American military assistance, he notified Congress on Monday of his plans to send some 275 military personnel to the American Embassy in Baghdad.

Splitting Iraq into three different countries is a simplistic solution that is far more challenging than it may seem. Allowing the creation of a Sunni-based state would be tantamount to the United States giving its blessing to a safe haven for terrorists, Rubin said.

"Unfortunately the division of Iraq isn't going to resolve this problem," he said. "The fact of the matter is we face this terrorist threat. It's not a threat based on grievance; it's a threat based on ideology, and [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has made clear his goal isn't Baghdad, it's New York City."


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