Coalition consensus: U.S. lacked ‘leadership and commitment’ to prevail against ISIL

by WorldTribune Staff, September 28, 2016

America’s partners in the coalition fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) have been disappointed in the Obama administration’s leadership in the effort to defeat the terror organization, a report said.

Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, told the Washington Free Beacon on Sept. 27 that members of the U.S.-led coalition feel “America hasn’t led enough” in the effort to drive ISIL from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

Sen. Ron Johnson. /AP
Sen. Ron Johnson. /AP

“I was in New York and I was talking to the coalition partners and I think it’s fair to characterize their feelings as America hasn’t led enough in order to actually accomplish that goal,” said Johnson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

“And if we did lead enough, we could have wiped out ISIL a long time ago. We just haven’t had the will and the leadership and the commitment to actually accomplish that goal,” he said.

President Barack Obama announced the formation of the global coalition to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIL in Iraq and Syria two years ago. More than 60 nations and partner organizations have signed on to defeat the terror group.

“It took us four years to defeat Nazi Germany and imperial Japan,” Johnson said. “Are you telling me that America can’t lead an effort to actually accomplish the destruction of a caliphate that is basically run by tens of thousands of ISIL operatives?”

“If we were to lead, we probably could destroy ISIL in a matter of months,” Johnson continued. “And we haven’t done it, we haven’t been serious about it. And I see no strategy on the part of this administration to actually do it.”

Meanwhile, ISIL lost 14 percent of its territory last year and another 12 percent during the first six months of 2016, according to an analysis published by IHS Jane’s 360 in July.

Nicholas Rasmussen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said that the territorial loses have not “significantly diminished” ISIL’s terror capabilities.

“It is our judgement that ISIL’s capacity and ability today to carry out attacks in Syria and Iraq and abroad has not thus far been significantly diminished,” Rasmussen said. “The tempo of ISIL-linked terrorist attacks and terrorist activity in Europe and other places around the globe is a reminder of that global reach.”

“This external operation’s capability has been building and entrenching over the past two years and we don’t think that battlefield or territorial losses alone will be sufficient to completely degrade the group’s terrorism capabilities,” Rasmussen said.

FBI Director James Comey said that “the so-called caliphate will be crushed. The challenge will be, through the fingers of that crush are going to come hundreds of very, very dangerous people. They will not all die on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. There will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two-to-five years like we’ve never seen before. We must prepare ourselves and our allies especially in western Europe to confront that threat.”