January 14, 2016

Obama’s ‘Slippery Slope’ Delusion

Featuring Richard Fontaine

In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama sounded a familiar and somewhat defensive theme about the Islamic State. Let’s not overreact, he said, against “masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages … [who] do not threaten our national existence." To intensify the fight unnecessarily, he suggested, is to court disaster. “We can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into chaos,” the president reminded Americans, as he has done many times before. That would be a recipe for a quagmire, the path to another Vietnam or another Iraq.

It’s known as the “slippery slope” argument, and it is the skeleton key that unlocks much of the mystery surrounding Obama’s reluctance to intervene in various crises in a more significant way. Fear of the slippery slope to a broader war, in fact, has defined virtually every use of force by the Obama administration in the past seven years, and it has helped to solidify the public view of Obama as a Reluctant Warrior.

Read the full op-ed at POLITICO.