“No one should be ashamed to admit they are wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that they are wiser today than they were yesterday.” — Alexander Pope

President Obama is known for wanting to “spread the wealth around,” but he has now gone a step further. He is spreading blame around for his failure to notice the rapid rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

On “60 Minutes” last Sunday night, the president, who tends to use the personal pronoun when taking credit for perceived successes, blamed his Defense Intelligence Agency chief, James Clapper, for bad intelligence about ISIS.

In 2008, when he ran for president, Mr. Obama blamed President George W. Bush for believing bad intelligence about Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and his supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction.

Members of the intelligence community quickly responded to Mr. Obama’s assertion that they got it wrong. The UK Daily Mail online quotes an unnamed national security staff member as saying the president has received “highly accurate predictions” about the rise of ISIS since before the 2012 election. Perhaps if the president spent more time reading his Presidential Daily Briefs and less time on the golf course or at political fundraisers he might have known. Or maybe he did know, but didn’t care. He seems more interested in the so-called “war on women” than he does the very real terrorist war against the West.

Evidence of the rise of ISIS was visible in the terrorist group’s conquering of Fallujah at the beginning of this year. Many in the intelligence community predicted ISIS would attempt to seize more Iraqi territory, which it has.


Harry S. Truman had a sign on his desk that said, “The Buck Stops Here.” With President Obama, the “buck” never gets to him, unless he can claim credit for something. Then he willingly and very publicly accepts responsibility and editorial kudos from friendly media. In such cases, it’s always “my” administration, and “I ordered.” But when something goes wrong — whether in domestic policy over the struggles with Obamacare, or in foreign policy with Russia and the war on terror — it’s someone else’s fault. He didn’t know about it. His underlings failed him. Bush is to blame. It’s those uncompromising House Republicans. It’s Fox News. It’s never him.

The focus on ISIS has diverted attention from what is an immediate and far greater threat (though they are all part of the same poisoned brew). That would be Iran, which subsidizes terrorism, even while pretending to decry it to westerners who prefer to hear what they want to hear, rather than see what is right in front of them.

Following on the heels of a sobering speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the U.N. General Assembly about threats from ISIS, Hamas and Iran, Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, called Iran’s quest for a nuclear bomb “a thousand times” more dangerous than ISIS. He’s right.

The main impediment to defeating Islamic radicalism is that we still do not treat it as a real war. As terrorist incidents increase within the U.S., many times from Muslim converts, some, according to NBC News, radicalized in prison by chaplains, this and previous administrations appear more intent on domestic political sensibilities than about doing what is necessary to stop them. The enemy knows this and uses those sensibilities to their advantage and our disadvantage.

If we fought World War II the way we are fighting this war, Hitler’s face might be on our money and Japan might dominate all of Asia.

It’s going to take more than airstrikes against ISIS targets and the arrest of terrorists after they commit heinous acts to defeat this threat to our security and way of life. If we ignore the threat, we will lose the war, but if we’re proactive, we just might win it.

Blaming others for one’s failure is not a strategy for victory. It’s what losers do.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist and author. Readers may email him at: tcaeditors@tribune.com.

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