President Obama Thursday ordered supply drops for Iraqis trapped on a mountain by ISIS Islamists and said he would order “targeted” airstrikes against ISIS if the terrorists moved on the Kurdish capital of Irbil, because he said it would threaten Americans in the city.
But Obama, who spoke during a prime time address to the nation also ruled out the reintroduction of armed forces into Iraq:
I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’ve done. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.
And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.
I understand why we are doing this. I just don’t quite get where this is going. Worse, I don’t think Obama understands where this is going either. It seems we are dropping manna and missiles from the sky without any kind of strategic sense of what we’re doing.
This is classic, haphazard, incrementalism. First we put some “advisors” on the ground. Now, we’re going to start bombing. And then . . . who knows? We’re eventually going to get into a situation where we have to choose between escalating our involvement further or not escalating and allowing thousands of deaths, ISIS control of the country, and another black eye for American credibility.
Um, the time has run out to “train” Iraqi forces. Targeted strikes are not going to change the situation on the ground. What I’m seeing is a reaction, not a strategy. Tough questions are not being asked, such as,
- Can we tolerate ISIS and an Islamic state or not?
- If not, then what are we going to do about it?
- Are we going to take future actions that prevent 40,000 people for being stranded on a mountain, or just wait and drop food once they get there?
- Are we prepared for potential retaliation by ISIS on American soil?
This is yet another poorly thought out operation, like the one in Libya which got rid of Qaddafi but left the country in a state of chaos. And – let’s be bipartisan here – the one in Iraq that got rid of Saddam with little notion of how to keep a lid on the place once he was removed.
I can’t tell you I know right now what to do. I generally know my own mind, but I acknowledge to you that in this case I haven’t studied the situation carefully enough to offer you an opinion on such a grave matter, involving commitments of American armed forces.
But I do know that the way this is being carried out, it’s not going to end well, for anyone. I’m not sure Obama has thought it through much more carefully than I.