It may be 31,000. It may be 20,000. But 31,500 sounds like more of a threat, so the CIA will let you choose that figure.
Bottom line: the CIA has no idea.
In June, there were 10,000, we are told. Really? What was the official CIA estimate in June? Sorry. The CIA did not offer one.
Why not? Because in June, ISIS had only recently been identified as a terrorist organization. In May, it was a freedom-fighting institution. It was fighting Bashar al-Assad, that evil man in Syria. You know. Hitler. Back in May, the U.S. government gave military aid to ISIS as part of the anti-Assad coalition.
Anyway, ISIS is now up to 31,500, maybe. That’s up 21,500 in three months. This is for both Syria and Iraq.
That is a growth rate that indicates a looming mass movement. Recruits could be described as coming out of the woodwork, if Syria and Iraq had any wood. But Obama is going to defeat ISIS with drone strikes operated by pilots in Nevada. No problem.
No boots. No ground. Drones.
From now on, whenever you think “Obama’s Middle East policy,” think “drones.”
ISIS is Sunni. It is therefore the enemy of Shiite Islam. Iran is Shiite. So, Obama is about to give Iran just what it needs.
ISIS is anti-Assad. So, Obama is about to give Assad just what he needs.
This is a unique performance. In less than a month, Obama has switched sides twice. Now, we are going to bomb ISIS into the Stone Age. From Nevada. This will strengthen the hand of two important governments in the region: Iran and Syria.
He of course says he is not doing this. He is going to fight the enemy of our enemies, and he is going to give no aid or comfort to any of our enemies. From Nevada.
John Kerry has said explicitly that Iran will not be part of the anti-ISIS coalition. This means that Iran will get all of the benefits with none of the costs — a sweet deal for Iran.
They say that politics makes strange bedfellows. Obama’s present policy, which is less than two weeks old, is giving new meaning to that old phrase.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry has described the NATO position — yes, NATO is involved, because it was created in 1949 to defend Western Europe from the USSR — as suffering from “serious ambiguity.” (NATO is also a serious ambiguity, but the Foreign Ministry was talking about the policy, not NATO.)
How do you wipe out the major military enemy of your two major enemies in the region, without giving aid and comfort to your two major enemies in the region?
This is President Obama’s dilemma. He is solving it in the same way that he is solving the obvious fact that ISIS is an Islamic terrorist organization. He is defining away the problem. He assured us in his speech that ISIS is not Islamic. He will now assure us that destroying the number-one enemy of our two major regional enemies is not giving aid and comfort to our two major regional enemies.
Politics not only makes strange bedfellows; it makes strange rhetoric. It makes even stranger definitions.
ISIS is not Islamic.
We are not helping Iran.
We are not helping Assad.
I am not a lame-duck president.
It is all great fun to watch. From Nevada.