While Iraq’s military claimed Wednesday to have driven back militants battling for control of the country, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told Congress that the United States has received a request from the Iraqi government to use its air power in the conflict.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the senior ranking member of the U.S. armed forces, spoke before the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday on Capitol Hill in Washington, saying that the United States’ “national security interest (is) to counter (ISIS) where we find them.”

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President Obama sought the advice of four initial supporters of the Iraq war on the current situation in Iraq. According to a White House readout of the meeting, the president this afternoon met with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and John Boehner, all of whom voted to authorize the Iraq war (except Pelosi, who supported intervening recently in Syria)…

Other prominent supporters of the Iraq war in the Obama administration include Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

Obama is scheduled to meet with Kerry later this evening.

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I’ll let you know what’s going on, but I don’t need new congressional authority to act, President Barack Obama told congressional leaders Wednesday about his upcoming decision on possible military intervention in Iraq.

The White House meeting sounded more like a listening session for the top Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate about options for helping Iraq’s embattled Shiite government halt the lightning advance of Sunni Islamist fighters toward Baghdad that Obama is considering…

While the White House statement emphasized Obama would continue to consult with Congress, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the President “basically just briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for the steps that he might take.”

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Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who has co-sponsored legislation to repeal the 2002 resolution authorizing military force in Iraq, said Obama should consult with Congress.

“I certainly believe that the president always has to get congressional approval,” said Kaine, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. “If there’s an emergency, you may need to come back and get a congressional ratification. That’s the way the process is supposed to work.”…

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a possible presidential candidate in 2016, said Obama could not rely on a resolution passed more than 10 years ago, when many members of Congress were not yet elected.

“A new war has started, and if people want to go be involved in a new war, the job of Congress is to vote on it,” he said. “I don’t think you can have a Congress of 10 years ago make a decision for the people here 10 years later.”

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As U.S. leaders signal a willingness to partner with Iran in the fight against Iraqi terrorists, senior military officials in Tehran are warning of repercussions for the United States if it meddles in Iraq

Iranian General Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of the country’s armed forces, slammed the United States and blamed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for sponsoring terrorist groups in Iraq and the region.

“By any meddling and military intervention in Iraq, the Americans are seeking to attain ungracious goals, at the top of which undermining the elections in Iraq, and the crocodile tears of the Americans should not receive any attention, as they are still the allies of the sponsors and supporters of terrorists in the region,” Firouzabadi was quoted as saying in Tehran on Tuesday by the country’s state-run press.

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David Petraeus, the former commander of coalition forces in Iraq, has issued a stark warning to those advocating U.S. military intervention against ISIS militias bearing down on Baghdad…

The former head of the CIA and one of the most highly respected generals in modern U.S. warfare said it was only wise to offer military support if the political conditions were exactly right in Iraq, a scenario that is virtually impossible to imagine in the near-future. “This cannot be the United States being the air force for Shia militias, or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight,” he said…

“If America is to support then it would be in support of a government against extremists rather than one side of what could be a sectarian civil war,” he said at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Liberty in London. “It has to be a fight of all of Iraq against extremists, who happen to be Sunni Arabs, but extremists that are wreaking havoc on a country.”

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Gratuitous finger-pointing is what Iraq War advocates do. They have yet to take responsibility for what will go down as one of the most horrific foreign policy debacles in American history.

Let’s be clear: What is happening in Iraq is the fault of the George W. Bush administration and those who agitated for invasion. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, ISIS “emerged in the ashes of the U.S.-led invasion to oust Hussein.” So, no invasion, no ISIS overrunning Iraq. Minus the invasion, there wouldn’t have been Maliki’s Shiite government isolating Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish minorities, leading to an entirely foreseeable sectarian war.

As horrible as Hussein was, he ran a secular government by Middle Eastern standards. Since the U.S. invasion, Iraq has become more theocratic. More than half a million Christians have fled the country in fear for their lives. Now we have the specter of a radical theocracy governed by sharia law wherever ISIS gains control. These are exactly the kind of fanatics the Iraq War proponents promised to eradicate. Instead, the war has spawned a new and reportedly even more barbaric enemy set on establishing a global caliphate.

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If the rap on Bush 43 was that he wanted to be policeman to the world, Obama seems to have the same ambition—only to do it on the cheap. Bush failed at his “mission accomplished” while spending a lot of money; Obama is failing while spending less.

Yes, Obama presided over the withdrawal American forces from Iraq, and announced a timetable for their pullout from Afghanistan. Still, he seeks to project U.S. force around the globe, regardless of priority or magnitude of crisis, as if our military was a hybrid of cops and Hessians. No matter seems too small for Obama’s attention, even if the upside for America is negligible or nonexistent…

To top it off, an American drone might kill a Sunni militant who was seeking to topple the Iranian-backed Shia-led Iraqi regime. But, if that same Sunni rebel turned westward to Syria he’d be—armed with American weapons—to take on Syria’s Iranian-backed government…

Faced with a Middle East in flames, Republicans would do well to hold extensive hearings on what was the president is thinking and hold the administration’s feet to the fire. The Democrats can respond, of course, that it was Bush’s fault, and they would be right. But strictly speaking, that’s not the contemporary GOP’s problem—unless, of course, it chooses to take on the defense of Bush’s actions of 10 years ago as part of its mandate. And that would be both bad policy and politics.

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The Republican Party has a long-standing philosophy about welfare. It goes like this: People take responsibility only if they must. The more we intervene to prop them up, the less they do for themselves. We can’t save them from their bad choices. They have to face the consequences and adjust their behavior accordingly.

Carried to its extreme, this philosophy can become a rationale for neglect. But at its core, it’s true. It’s one reason why the welfare reforms of the 1990s didn’t produce the disaster many liberals predicted…

Republicans say ISIS is filling the “vacuum” left by Obama’s withdrawal. But the vacuum—which is really just another name for how the world works when we’re not there—affects other parties, too. As ISIS advances on Baghdad, Shiite militias are assembling. Iran is stepping in. Turkey may be next. The conflict could explode into sectarian civil war, though some Shiite leaders are trying to avoid that. But what’s striking is how quickly, in our absence, the threatened elements of Iraqi society and the region are mobilizing to stop ISIS. They’re doing it because they have to. If they don’t, nobody else will.

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Deciding that the Syrian government, as bad as it is, was still better than the alternative of ISIS profoundly missed the point. As long as we allow the Syrian government to continue perpetrating the worst campaign of crimes against humanity since Rwanda, support for ISIS will continue. As long as we choose Prime Minister Maliki over the interests of his citizens, all his citizens, his government can never be safe.

President Obama should be asking the same question in Iraq and Syria. What course of action will be best, in the short and the long term, for the Iraqi and Syrian people? What course of action will be most likely to stop the violence and misery they experience on a daily basis? What course of action will give them the best chance of peace, prosperity and a decent government?

The answer to those questions may well involve the use of force on a limited but immediate basis, in both countries. Enough force to remind all parties that we can, from the air, see and retaliate against not only Al Qaeda members, whom our drones track for months, but also any individuals guilty of mass atrocities and crimes against humanity. Enough force to compel governments and rebels alike to the negotiating table. And enough force to create a breathing space in which decent leaders can begin to consolidate power.

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Iraq wasn’t about al Qaeda before. It is now…

Acknowledging that reality does not mean the neoconservatives who criticized the 2011 pullout have been right all along. It’s their blunderbuss invasion that cracked open Iraq’s sectarian divides, and we have no obligation to accept their Johnny-One-Note militarism as the easy answer today. Replicating the mistakes of 2003 with another round of bloody unilateralism may heighten global suspicion of American imperialism, which is exactly what makes al Qaeda thrive…

An armed response would not be a betrayal of principle for the man who became president because he presciently declared in 2002 that Iraq would be a “dumb war.” Recall what Obama also said that day 12 years ago: “After Sept. 11, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again.”

That is exactly what he is trying to prevent today.

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There are those who think that the region as a whole may be starting to go through something similar to what Europe went through in the early 17th century during the Thirty Years’ War, when Protestant and Catholic states battled it out. This is a conflict which is not only bigger than al-Qa’eda and similar groups, but far bigger than any of us. It is one which will re-align not only the Middle East, but the religion of Islam…

Saudi officials more recently called for the Iranian leadership to be summoned to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for war crimes. Then, just the month before last, as the P5+1 countries eased sanctions on Iran after arriving at an interim deal in Geneva, Saudi saw its greatest fear — a nuclear Iran — grow more likely. And in the immediate aftermath of the Geneva deal, Saudi sources darkly warned of the country now taking Iranian matters ‘into their own hands’. There are rumours that the Saudis would buy nuclear bombs ‘off the shelf’ from their friends in Pakistan if Iran ever reaches anything like the nuclear threshold. In that case, this Westphalian solution could be prefaced with a mushroom cloud…

The war between Saudi and Iran has already reached America’s shores. It has been devastatingly fought out across Syria’s wasted land. In fact the only place where it has yet to strike meaningfully is on the soil of the main protagonists. If what has been happening so far looks bloody, it is the work of an Armageddon-ist to consider what will happen when those gloves come off. In a region replete with bitter rivalries and irreconcilable ambitions, that will be perhaps the ultimate clarification.

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Via the Free Beacon.