President Obama’s Wednesday-night speech laying out the United States’ military strategy against the Islamic State didn’t get the best reception on the left, and not because it was too hawkish: Chris Matthews repeatedly called it “not sufficient,” NBC correspondent Richard Engel slammed it as “wildly off-base” and an “oversimplification,” and even Al Sharpton admitted the plan left a lot to be desired.
A panel composed of some of MSNBC’s brightest stars lit into the president almost immediately after he wrapped up his address to the American people. “I heard all the necessary conditions, but not the sufficient conditions for defeating ISIS,” Matthews lamented. “Nothing really about the building of a posse. And everyone who really knows this region are saying the only way you defeat a cancer like this, like ISIS, is within the Islamic world itself . . . and I didn’t hear in this speech how we’re going to do that.”
NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, phoning in from northern Iraq, took issue with President Obama’s plan to confront the Islamic State in a manner similar to ongoing U.S. operations in Somalia and Yemen. “I think it is wildly off-base, frankly,” he accused. “I think it’s an oversimplification of the problem.” He explained there is a “partner government” in Yemen that requires the United States to help with reconnaissance and hard-to-reach targets, and a cooperative government in Somalia, too.
“That’s not at all the situation that we see in Iraq and Syria,” he said. “Here we have a large group, tens of thousands of fighters. They control an area the size of Maryland. They control an area with 8 million people living inside of it. It’s much more akin to regime change than it is waiting back, picking targets with allied forces. They are not comparable at all.”....