Updated 7:47 am ET on June 18
President Obama has for now ruled out airstrikes to stop Iraq’s rampaging Islamist rebels and may not order any in the future either, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The president instead will focus on providing intelligence to the Iraqis, working to solve the country’s internal divisions, and rounding up support from regional allies.
Nevertheless, special forces may be dispatched to help with intelligence and assist Iraqis on the battlefield.
From the piece:
The president wants to avoid airstrikes for now in part because U.S. military officials lack sufficient information to hit targets that would shift momentum on the battlefield. Officials say their approach also would help address underlying causes of the Sunni uprising and the collapse of Iraq’s military forces.
“What the president is focused on is a comprehensive strategy, not just a quick military response,” a senior administration official said. “While there may potentially be a military component to it, it’s a much broader effort.”
Mr. Obama ultimately may decide not to order air attacks, senior U.S. officials said, bucking what for days appeared to be the leading U.S. option to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, the terror group that has seized a large swath of Iraq’s north and west. U.S. strikes are still actively under discussion, but the officials cautioned Tuesday that they don’t expect Mr. Obama to put military action back on the table quickly, and said he may announce steps in a broader U.S. response over time.
Obama will brief Republican and Democratic leaders at the White House Wednesday.
UPDATE: The New York Times is reporting that Obama is in fact considering targeted, limited airstrikes, possibly using drones. So go figure.