From the Telegraph:
Former and serving diplomats and intelligence officials tell the Telegraph that President Obama’s hopes of defeating Islamic State are based on “smoke and mirrors.”
President Barack Obama’s attempts to destroy Isil have been derided by Western diplomats and his own former intelligence officials. Mr Obama has insisted that the United States will not change the strategy that he said was already “containing” Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and would work eventually to “degrade and destroy” it.
But in a series of candid interviews with the Telegraph, Western diplomats and intelligence officials – current and former – have angrily dismissed the approach as a “smoke and mirrors” public relations exercise founded on little substantive or effective action.
“It’s smoke and mirrors and that is the dirty little secret,” said Derek Harvey, one of Mr Obama’s senior former intelligence officials, a Middle East specialist, who said he resigned from his job in frustration at the administration’s handling of the conflict.
“The president’s plan never had a chance to work because he has never supported his own strategy.”
Many members of both the American and the European intelligence and diplomatic apparatus say the chaos in Iraq and Syria is caused by Mr Obama’s determination to press on with an “exit strategy” from the region, signalled by the withdrawal from Iraq.
The intelligence official said this had created a sense of apathy, with departments feeling they were being judged by how much they were focused on “detaching” from the Middle East, rather than on the success of the policies they were actually implementing there. Experts in the region had also been withdrawn in case they concentrated on achieving results.
“Who is in charge?” Mr Harvey said. “Where is the intelligence community? It is totally broken on this.”
Two active intelligence sources told the Telegraph that there was a sense of disarray inside the various intelligence agencies.