[NOTE: I originally put this post up a little while ago as an update to the post right below it. But just in case many of you fail to notice it, I thought I'd put it up here as a separate post as well.]
President Obama has announced limited, targeted airstrikes for humanitarian reasons, with caveats:
Obama said he has given the green-light to the Pentagon for the limited, targeted bombing if top military officials monitoring the shifting situation on the ground believe ISIS continues to pose a serious threat to people in the northern Kurdish-controlled region or if militants threaten U.S. servicemen and personnel in Irbil, according to a U.S. official.
Still, the president’s authorization of any airstrikes in Iraq is abrupt departure from his goal of preventing further U.S. military intervention in Iraq after ending the war there and removing all troops at the end of 2011. Obama was swept into office in 2008 in part because of his promises to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and limit U.S. military intervention abroad.
Is there any doubt that “ISIS continues to pose a serious threat to people in the northern Kurdish-controlled region”? Of course not. So that statement may have been put in there just to give Obama some wriggle room and ability to stall.
Obama included an assurance (to the left, no doubt) that we will not be drawn into another war in Iraq nor will we put any troops on the ground. ISIS will be very happy to hear those assertions. Even if Obama intends to keep such a promise, revealing it to the enemy at this point is tremendously counterproductive (just like the announcements at his presidency’s outset that he would be withdrawing from Iraq). But Obama is more intent on soothing the fears of his political base.
So it seems something may be done, but we don’t know when, what or how much. I’m glad some action is at least being strongly contemplated, but six months earlier would have been far far better. Even two weeks earlier would have been a great deal better. Obama has waited till the eleventh hour, and it’s not even clear at this point whether the bombing will actually take place. An ounce of prevention would have been worth several tons of cure, and many innocent lives would probably have been saved.