Why Foley wasn’t rescued.

The Delta Force raid on the Syrian ISIS camp failed to rescue any hostages. They had been moved. Now we know why.

Anthony Shaffer, a former lieutenant-colonel in US military intelligence who worked on covert operations, said: “I’m told it was almost a 30-day delay from when they said they wanted to go to when he finally gave the green light. They were ready to go in June to grab the guy [Foley] and they weren’t permitted.”

This is a reflex reaction of Obama to any call for action. He delays and thinks and worries about the politics. It has been reported that Obama delayed the bin Laden raid three times.

President Barack Obama — at the urging of senior adviser Valerie Jarrett — canceled the operation to kill Osama bin Laden three times before finally approving the May 2, 2011, Navy SEAL mission, according to a book scheduled to be released next month.

In “Leading From Behind: The Reluctant President and the Advisors who Decide for Him,” Richard Miniter writes that Obama canceled the mission in January 2011, again in February, and a third time in March, The Daily Caller reports

It isn’t just the conservative press but Hillary Clinton even says so.

Through weeks of sometimes heated White House debate in 2011, Clinton was alone among the president’s topmost cabinet officers to back it. Vice President Biden, a potential political rival for Clinton in 2016, opposed it. So did then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

The optics and the political fallout were most of his concerns. In the case of Captain Phillips of the ship hijacked by Somali pirates, reports have circulated that Obama delayed the SEALS raid several times as he agonized over the decision.

The claim that the White House rejected two rescue attempts is equally false, according to Gen. Jones. Nor did the on-scene commander decide on his own to rescue Phillips. Jones said the president had already given that authorization on April 10 – two days before the rescue. Vice Adm. William Gortney, commander of Naval forces in the Middle East, told reporters the same thing in an April 12 press conference. According to Gortney, “[T]here were standing orders that if [Captain Phillips] was at risk and we on scene determined that he was under imminent danger, to go ahead and take decisive action.”

The fact that the White House and the Pentagon had to step on these stories of delay indicates the opinion of most military officers. It is widely believed that the “shoot order” was given in spite of the White House.

Now, we have the raid on the Syrian base where ISIS hostages were being held.

Time was obviously of the essence, yet if you believe Harnden’s source, it took 30 days for a green light. How come? The White House’s fears of a debacle a la Desert One or Mogadishu are understandable, but less understandable now than they were before the Bin Laden raid. Even if the Foley raid had fallen apart, what would the knock on Obama have been? That he had too much faith in the capabilities of soldiers who scalped the head of Al Qaeda and then exfiltrated without a single American casualty? The foot-dragging is also hard to explain. He took his time in ordering the Bin Laden raid, with internal deliberations extending over several months, but extra prudence was warranted in that case: Pakistan is (nominally) an ally, there were no innocent lives directly in the balance, and the White House had no reason to believe that Bin Laden would flee the scene before they got there.

This is just the Obama playbook again and it has been an old one going back to Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam. Read Dereliction of Duty to see how the Johnson Administration conducted the Vietnam War as a political exercise, not a military campaign. Certainly “War Is Merely the Continuation of Policy by Other Means” but the continuation must be competent. The attempted rescue of Vietnam prisoners in the Son Tay prison camp was fatally delayed

The concept of a rescue mission inside North Vietnam began on 9 May 1970. An Air Force intelligence unit concluded through analysis of aerial photography that a compound near Son Tây, suspected since late 1968 of being a prisoner of war camp, contained 55 American POWs and that at least six were in urgent need of rescue.[13][14][n 2] On 25 May the unit met in the Pentagon with BG Donald Blackburn, Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities (SACSA), to report their findings. Blackburn was responsible directly to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and had also been the first commander of the covert Studies and Observation Group in Vietnam.

From May 1970 to November was too long to be assured the word would not leak to Vietnamese who had many sympathizers in the US government. A friend of mine in Vietnam said the NVA knew the bombing targets before we did. At least Nixon was willing to try. Had the POWs been there, it would have succeeded, unlike Jimmy Carter’s attempt in Iran ten years later and after Democrats had gutted the US military following the Vietnam retreat. There is a good book called The Guts to Try, which describes the poor state of the US military in 1980. At least they tried.

What we see here will not be the last failure of the weakened US military with this reluctant president in charge. I doubt very much that a competent effort will be made to reverse ISIS gains in Syria and Iraq even though an outline of such a mission is available from others.

The problem will be getting a reluctant president on board. He wants nothing more than to enjoy the perks of the presidency for the next two years and ignore problems just like Clinton ignored al Qaeda until 2000. At least Clinton had less reason to be concerned as the losses seemed less obvious and the economy was doing well.

16 thoughts on “Why Foley wasn’t rescued.”

  1. What a desperately pathetic, shallow little man. Looking at his accomplishments in the run-up to the 2008 election, I realized at once that he had no executive experience at all … but I didn’t have any clue at how adverse he would be at making decisions. It’s as if he thought all the presidency involved was sitting behind a desk and making speeches.

  2. –and yet he “had” to violate US law in the release of the terrorists because “there wasn’t enough time to consult Congress”. Heh.

  3. I just watched Ill Met by Moonlight, the movie about the daring kidnapping of the German commander on Crete by two British commandos and Cretan resistance fighters. From the time the second commando, who speaks German, which is integral to the plan, is sneaked ashore, to a personal reconnaissance of the place where they plan to ambush the German general’s car, to carrying out the attack and taking him captive, is less than two days. They acted rapidly, lest the opportunity slip away.

    That is the only way to do things, especially in wartime.

    As Napoleon said: “Go sir, gallop, and don’t forget that the world was made in six days. You can ask me for anything you like, except time.”

    President Obama seems not to understand this imperative need for rapid and decisive action where lives are at stake.

    He has never seemed comfortable with his duties as Commander in Chief.

  4. This pattern of delay explains why the White House “spiked the ball” after the Bin Laden raid. Months of dithering and agonizing made the senior decision makers feel like they were actually doing something, and made them feel that they had a personal stake in the mission’s success. When the mission succeeded, it felt like a great victory of decisive leadership.

  5. Well, remember that as an incoming Senator, Obama requested that he be placed as the head of the congresssional Afghan committee, which he then proceeded to call exactly “0” meetings during his tenure. They just wanted to tick that box.

    It has been, and always will be, about stagecraft, about O’s image.

    I mean, honestly, Ben Rhodes is a Deputy National Security Advisor. His background is that he was one of Obama’s speechwriters (Cairo speech, in fact). Do you think speechwriters create sound military analysis? Of course not, yet these are the people who are left in the administration at such a perilous time.

  6. “the daring kidnapping of the German commander on Crete by two British commandos and Cretan resistance fighters”

    That commando was, of course, the author of A Time of Gifts, Patrick Leigh Fermor.

    With Captain Bill Stanley Moss as his second in command, Leigh Fermor led the party that in 1944 captured and evacuated the German commander, General Heinrich Kreipe.[10] There is a memorial commemorating Kreipe’s abduction near Archanes in Crete.[11]

    [I’ve added an updated link to the Fermor book. Jonathan]

  7. It’s a wonderful book: it describes the now-defunct German civilisation along the Rhine and Danube. Hitler killed it; the new one, whatever its merits, is different.

    Mind you, the British civilisation of that period is defunct too; as is the American, I dare say. I suspect that the French and Italian are less changed.

  8. If you want to see Obama being decisive look at Senator Obama during Luo Tribal violence in Kenya. His Tribe.

    He moved fast to secure a favorable deal for the Luo then. Decisively.

    No, I’m not a Birther.

    He has limited or no ties to us, less than the blighted Chicago neighborhoods that elected him.

    When it comes to Kenya he’s engaged. When it comes to Islam apologetics he’s engaged. We the Americans are annoying props, stage hands, extras in his movie.

    Whoever this man is we’ll not find out until much later.

  9. Everybody keeps talking about the supposed leader of the current regime as if he really is a person carrying out his office, making decisions, deciding policies, etc.

    Isn’t it painfully obvious by now that he is merely a shill? A frontman? He says what his handlers prepare for him to say, he does what his handlers schedule him to do, he is for whatever policies seem most advantageous to those who are managing him, and opposed to anything they tell him to oppose.

    Follow the money, remember the machine that created him, and look at who is being rewarded by massive amounts of government largesse and legal privilege, and you will find the people who actually decide what the government of this country will do or not do.

    So much of the commentary about this regime is focused on what Charlie McCarthy is saying, it seems people have forgotten to look to the guy standing there trying to keep his lips still.

    So the true question is—who is Edgar Bergen for this dummy?

  10. For probably the fifth or sixth time, I’m reading Heart of a Soldier about Rick Rescorla, the only hero of 9/11 besides the firemen who went into the WTC. He was in the British Army then came to the US and, with an American buddy he met in Africa, enlisted in the US Army. They both went to OCS and Rescorla went to Vietnam in one of the first waves of troops. He was in the battle described by Hal Moore in We Were Soldiers Once and Young . The cover photo of the book is of him in combat. The movie deleted his character unfortunately.

    I just read the account of the first battle near the Ia Drang River where the First Cavalry was badly mauled. After the battle, Moore and Rescorla and the rest of the unit were ready to go after the NVA which had also been mauled in this first encounter. They were called off as the NVA were headed for Cambodia and the sanctuary they had there.

    Here was the first example of Johnson’s war making that would kill 53,000 US troops and wound another 153,000.

    Obama is made of the same stuff but even less in the testosterone department.

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