Kerry's Red Line

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President Obama spoke about ISIS at length in his Meet the Press interview this morning, but he didn't offer much clarity as to what he's going to do about ISIS. One might say he's learned from bitter experience not to lay down red lines, and that he 's being purposefully vague. But I'm afraid the truth is closer to Jonah Goldberg's mordant comment: "Everyone’s talking about what the president should say. The assumption is that saying something will reflect a policy of doing something. But that isn’t how Obama sees the situation. He wants to say something that will take the pressure off of him to do something." It still looks as if Barack Obama will do as little as possible, as hesitantly as possible.

Obama's secretary of state, John Kerry, on the other hand, isn't embarrassed to talk about red lines: “We need to do kinetic, we need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, that bolster the Iraqi security forces, others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own, obviously. I think that’s a red line for everybody here, no boots on the ground.”

So it's apparently obvious, in the age of Obama, that we wouldn't dream of committing "troops of our own," or "boots on the ground," against a brutal enemy which poses a strategic threat in a key region of the world, and which has American blood on its hands. Has there been a more pathetic statement—especially the "obviously"—by an American secretary of state?

We used to set red lines for our enemies. Now we set them for ourselves.


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