Can this military action work without a Commander in Chief willing to plan and argue for it?

posted at 7:41 pm on August 8, 2014 by Mary Katharine Ham

This week, we experience the deep, jarring irony of the President from Chicago whose entire career was built on a politically prescient position against the Iraq War, whose biggest foreign policy “success” was pulling American troops out of a relatively stable Iraq to satisfy a political promise, leaving behind the political implosion and brutality of today, reinitiating war in Iraq. President Barack Obama restarting a war in Iraq. It is truly remarkable.

But to what end? I think it’s the right move to offer humanitarian assistance to innocents cornered and strategic military assistance against ISIS in Iraq. Much like the post-invasion Iraq left by the predecessor Obama has tried so hard not to be, a lack of strategic foresight about post-withdrawal Iraq left behind a power vacuum that had horrible consequences for the country and its people. We knew seven months ago, when Anbar fell, that ISIS was filling it and efficiently rolling back gains by Americans and the Iraqi Army alike.

The best time and way to act in Iraq (post Bush-era mistakes, which I am not denying) would have been to preserve those gains by getting a Status of Forces Agreement and leaving some troops in a relatively stable country to guide Iraqi troops and maintain influence on the increasingly problematic Maliki. The next best time to act would have been any of the time between ISIS’ debut and now, when rolling back its gains would have been easier. But here we are, and I fear that what President Obama has planned won’t be enough to stop these varsity jihadists with huge ambitions. Further, I’m afraid that neither the American people nor the American president are interested in what might actually derail ISIS in a meaningful way. In which case, does our current military action actually end up achieving anything?

The troops that were in Iraq before Obama withdrew them were easier to explain as Bush’s doing. Since they were in so much less danger (relatively speaking, of course) than troops of the 2006 Iraq era, Americans would have tolerated their being in Iraq as a bulwark against what has now happened. Re-exerting force, re-inserting troops is a much more politically painful maneuver for Obama than simply leaving them in place would have been.

Yet, it turns out, that’s what’s required, even in the estimation of Obama, who is so politically and ideologically disinclined to use American force in just this way. But re-exerting force also requires re-convincing the American people that this is worth it. That requires more skill than simply begging a bit more of their patience would have in 2011. And, it’s a skill the president has never shown he has. Even when a cause is near and dear to his heart, as with Obamacare, he has shown no ability to plan and wage a long plan to make it work or a long campaign to convince people of its worth. His three-week-long flirtation with military action in Syria is perhaps a closer analogue. That was Obama’s stab at convincing the American people and Congress that military action is necessary and just. There was barely even an attempt made.

Do we think he will make such an attempt for Iraq? And, if he cannot muster it, it is virtually sure that the understandably war-weary American people will not get on board. Without those things, can any military action actually succeed? That has been my fear about this situation since troops left. With them there, perhaps Iraq’s future could subsist on the dedication of America’s troops, the remnants of the impassioned argument President Bush made for their presence, and the real gains the combination had shown the Iraqi people. Now, we’ve lost two of the three, and I do not expect Obama to be filling the void with his moral clarity and passion for this engagement. For all of Bush’s faults and mistakes, and there were plenty of costly ones in the theater of Iraq that I do not wish to diminish, he had the courtesy to make an argument. That’s part of taking seriously the deployment of troops and putting them in harm’s way. It’s times like this that a Commander in Chief who leads is helpful. Leaders have the ability to change minds, to convince Americans that their sacrifices are necessary. Is there any evidence that Obama can become that man?

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Our Faculty Lounge Leader will try to do as little as possible to make it look like he’s doing as much as possible. The World will not be fooled.

PackerBronco on August 8, 2014 at 7:54 PM

President Barack Obama restarting a war in Iraq. It is truly remarkable.

It certainly is. This is particularly true after it was touted as such a “success” story.

cat_owner on August 8, 2014 at 7:59 PM

I think this is Zero’s defining moment. I also think he will blow it.

KCB on August 8, 2014 at 8:01 PM

It’s times like this that a Commander in Chief who leads is helpful. Leaders have the ability to change minds, to convince Americans that their sacrifices are necessary. Is there any evidence that Obama can become that man?

No, he’s 52 years old and nearly 6 years into his Presidency. He’s not suddenly going to become a decisive leader now, particularly with regard to foreign policy, and most especially when it comes to the use of military force in Iraq.

What’s sad is if he was committed to this, he could get 60+% of the American people behind him. Enough of his base is sycophantic and partisan enough to go along with anything he does, and I’d wager enough indies and Republicans would set aside politics on this if he were to go out there and make an impassioned plea for our support.

Doughboy on August 8, 2014 at 8:05 PM

Yet, it turns out, that’s what’s required, even in the estimation of Obama, who is so politically and ideologically disinclined to use American force in just this way. But re-exerting force also requires re-convincing the American people that this is worth it. That requires more skill than simply begging a bit more of their patience would have in 2011.

I agreed up to this point. He doesn’t have to sell anything to anyone.

The reason an American president has such broad powers in foreign policy and military matters is that they are empowered to serve the country’s best interests whether the public happens to like it or not.

And when a terrorist army that behaves like the second coming of the Mongol Horde is on the march, no American president can be allowed to sit on their hands.

We are a representative republic with a powerful executive branch, not some dotty Greek city-state full of civic virtue and ruled by direct democracy. Obama must act now and stop trying to Lead From Behind™ through masterful Smart Power™.

Toocon on August 8, 2014 at 8:06 PM

Just as kinetically well as all his other military actions to-date!

Besides, he’s covered: any failure will be blamed on Bush or the obstructionist Republican Congress or the Teabagger Terrorists or other white racists or global warming or the harsh winter or rogue agents in Cincinnati or ATMs or …

ShainS on August 8, 2014 at 8:06 PM

President Barack Obama restarting a war in Iraq. It is truly remarkable.

But to what end?

I doubt he even knows beyond a response to the political optics.

Re-exerting force, re-inserting troops is a much more politically painful maneuver for Obama than simply leaving them in place would have been.

If I may ask, to what end?

A huge 800,000 strong Iraqi army couldn’t deal with 11,000 ISIS invaders.

So what is the end game of troops in Iraq?

sharrukin on August 8, 2014 at 8:06 PM

He’s not going to put ANY meaningful set of boots on the ground. His little strafing runs are of only limited value (to the overall problem in Iraq) and by design formatted to make him look like he is being presidential.

Other than that “where’s the 18th hole Valerie?”

Walter L. Newton on August 8, 2014 at 8:06 PM

Every country can see what a threat ISIS is. They all know. Any idiot could get buy in from virtually any nation. Destroy ISIS. Save the Kurdish people. Legacy….check!

He won’t. Dumbass.

KCB on August 8, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Now we know why the Democrats wanted the “use of force” bill repealed

Sergeant Major on August 8, 2014 at 8:08 PM

It is significant that the operation taking place in Iraq has no name. It is as if there will be a couple of bombs thrown, several C-130′s worth of MRE’s dropped, followed by a declaration of the saving of humanity, followed by…..crickets. If it has no name, it never happened, and clueless American low-info idjits can go back to their thumb exercises. Meanwhile, all US citizens will be evacuated from Erbil and The One will celebrate his saving of American lives. The Kurds and the rest be damned and The One can go back to his golf game and attacking the real enemy – conservatives.

vnvet on August 8, 2014 at 8:09 PM

He couldn’t even look the camera in the eye, let alone stare down evil.
He was forced into all of this, and hopes it’ll give that Iraqi ‘community’ chance to calm down and get ‘organized’ against those who the world (not necessarily he) views as the ‘bad’ dudes.
See those heel marks in the ground behind him ?

pambi on August 8, 2014 at 8:09 PM

vnvet on August 8, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Depressing. And correct, unfortunately.

KCB on August 8, 2014 at 8:11 PM

… whose biggest foreign policy “success” was pulling American troops out of a relatively stable Iraq to satisfy a political promise

Obama’s political promise was to pull out in 16 months. He didn’t do that. Instead he followed the Bush/Maliki Status of Forces agreement which the Iraqis were willing to ‘renegotiate’ but only if they got to put American troops on trial in Islamic courts.

I don’t know how many times this has to be said to sink in.

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:14 PM

Obama is completely detached. He’s not a planner. He’s not a military strategist. He’s not a passionate champion… for anyone.

He’s proven this time and again, and the result in this instance is an unbridled ISIS tearing though Iraq on a rampage and planning to do the same to their neighbors, and if we’re to believe their threats, their blood lust extends ultimately to this nation, too.

The left used to applaud and laud Obama for being ‘above the fray’ and ‘no drama Obama’ and ‘cool and detached’. This is the result of a president who is detached. It simply means he won’t be bothered to bend his efforts, particularly in a sustained and passionate way, to anything, even to spare the lives of millions of people.

Obama is immature, he’s irresponsible, and he’s feckless. Just yesterday I was arguing that our politicians are transitory by design but they make promises they know they will not be around long enough to fulfill and they leave them to the American people to cover those promises with our blood and treasure. It falls to us then to be more cognizant of the import of our votes when we elect these politicians to office and be certain of their character, their caliber, and their qualifications to lead.

thatsafactjack on August 8, 2014 at 8:14 PM

What’s sad is if he was committed to this, he could get 60+% of the American people behind him. Enough of his base is sycophantic and partisan enough to go along with anything he does, and I’d wager enough indies and Republicans would set aside politics on this if he were to go out there and make an impassioned plea for our support.

Doughboy on August 8, 2014 at 8:05 PM

I agree with you.

cat_owner on August 8, 2014 at 8:15 PM

I agreed up to this point. He doesn’t have to sell anything to anyone.
The reason an American president has such broad powers in foreign policy and military matters is that they are empowered to serve the country’s best interests whether the public happens to like it or not.
And when a terrorist army that behaves like the second coming of the Mongol Horde is on the march, no American president can be allowed to sit on their hands.

@Toocon, laying aside any disagreements we may have about the absolute power of the president to wage war without Congressional or popular assent, you would surely agree that when a long and tough campaign is necessary, the support of the American people for the mission is critical. It kinda doesn’t matter if the president isn’t strictly required to sell the public on military action if ignoring them and losing their support makes winning wars materially harder or impossible, which it does.

Mary Katharine Ham on August 8, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Mary Katharine Ham on August 8, 2014 at 8:15 PM

We like it when you mix it up with us down here. And you look marvelous!

KCB on August 8, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Obama knows one strategist and one vision of leadership….Saul Alinsky. Which is why he is a crappy leader. I think his presidency has proven one thing with clarity, the limits of Alinsky.

This is why people should study history, there is lots of great lessons and teachers to learn from…and there is a time and place for each of them. This is not the time for community agitation tactics, cute hashtags, and making stupid jokes about your opponent.

Islamist make short work of people who do that kind of stuff…

William Eaton on August 8, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Time will tell. His speech last night was not encouraging. He looking angry and pixxed that he had to deign to give a speech like this. I watched most of it w/out sound…which is my wont most times. The non-verbs were terrible. He was phoning it in basically. I turned it up just in time to watch him read the right hand teleprompt…My Fellow Americans.

Honestly, it was a performance worthy of British satire.

We’ve seen presidents say that line, we can see LBJ, Nixon, Reagan…we can hear FDR. Those were Presidents.

so the question is (from a small point of view)…why not the Oval Office?..the teleprompter right above the camera…like the news readers?

Barry is not having fun…he mostly has fun attacking his opponents…and talking about transforming the county (notice, he didn’t need no stinking teleprompter on that speech…no)
.
I’m sure he and his advisers/press will muddle thru this. They will try to keep it at the Balkans level..i.e. 30K feet.

r keller on August 8, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Islamist make short work of people who do that kind of stuff…

William Eaton on August 8, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Patton time?

KCB on August 8, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Is there any evidence that Obama can become that man?

No. He can’t.

Regardless of the issue or its severity the one thing people seem not to understand is very simple – he doesn’t care. He never has.

Sure, he likes to pick sissy fights with Congress and dump on the American people… what are they going to do? March on DC with pitchforks. Impeachment? Nah.

He’s insulated. That was guaranteed prior to accepting the gig. He’s always been cosseted and protected.

Please stop trying to wonder if this person will ever become whatever it is he should be. After nearly six years it should be obvious that he cannot, but most important is that……..

he doesn’t care.

It really is that simple.

Cody1991 on August 8, 2014 at 8:20 PM

So what is the end game of troops in Iraq?

sharrukin on August 8, 2014 at 8:06 PM

To die of old age there I suppose. If we armed the Kurds up to the level that we have armed ISIS (in Syria as friends of Obama’s and McCain’s and in Iraq from all the American furnished weapons the Iraqi army basically gave them) they could likely do the job in the north and let the Iraqi’s fellow Shiites, the Iranians, take care of the south. If ISIS concentrates troops/equipment/supplies, then send in the B-52′s.

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Short answer to Headline question… Nope!

texgal on August 8, 2014 at 8:23 PM

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:14 PM

Obama also tried to get the agreement allowing him to use military force in Iraq rescinded as recently as July 25th.

I understand that Maliki was threatening to try US military personnel in Muslim courts.

I also understand that it was pointless and foolish to insist that Iraq remain one nation under Maliki and refuse to allow the Kurds to establish their own nation. US forces could have remained in the new Kurdistan very easily under a brand new agreement and it would have went a long way toward controlling Maliki and Syria into the bargain.

However, the President was too interested in simply getting out and trying to claim credit for that with his base than to actually be reasonable about the prospects of the region and do the necessary work to insure the stability of the region. He also had zero interest in making sure that the Iraq army was actually capable of maintaining order in the region, as we’d promised they would be.

thatsafactjack on August 8, 2014 at 8:24 PM

It is significant that the operation taking place in Iraq has no name. It is as if there will be a couple of bombs thrown, several C-130′s worth of MRE’s dropped, followed by a declaration of the saving of humanity, followed by…..crickets. If it has no name, it never happened, and clueless American low-info idjits can go back to their thumb exercises. Meanwhile, all US citizens will be evacuated from Erbil and The One will celebrate his saving of American lives. The Kurds and the rest be damned and The One can go back to his golf game and attacking the real enemy – conservatives.

vnvet on August 8, 2014 at 8:09 PM

I hereby name it Operation Limp Dick.

slickwillie2001 on August 8, 2014 at 8:24 PM

ISIS makes Saddam’s crimes look like child’s play. Beheading children – only the most soulless people could not be affected by that.

I think Obama has already blown it. When he called them the “JV team” it proved that the WH has no clue what they are doing or what threat ISIS really is.

Reagan went into Libya with full force and stopped the threat. Obama doesn’t have the guts or the military intelligence to do that here. He just isn’t fit to be CIC.

gophergirl on August 8, 2014 at 8:26 PM

This is the equivalent of Whiplash Willie’s Desert Fox, another operation that was for show.

And, ironically, in the same country.

formwiz on August 8, 2014 at 8:27 PM

Patton time?

KCB on August 8, 2014 at 8:20 PM

More like Curtis LeMay time…

William Eaton on August 8, 2014 at 8:28 PM

To die of old age there I suppose.

There doesn’t seem to be much strategic thought beyond that.

If we armed the Kurds up to the level that we have armed ISIS (in Syria as friends of Obama’s and McCain’s and in Iraq from all the American furnished weapons the Iraqi army basically gave them) they could likely do the job in the north and let the Iraqi’s fellow Shiites, the Iranians, take care of the south. If ISIS concentrates troops/equipment/supplies, then send in the B-52′s.

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Nothing the United States does is going to make Iraq a nation. They are at least three or more separate nations and sooner or later that split will take place.

Saddam ruled as a despot and that is the only type of rule that would have kept Iraq united.

sharrukin on August 8, 2014 at 8:29 PM

I miss Darth Cheney.

can_con on August 8, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources (and political will) of the State will not be equal to the strain. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent (seemingly never ending Iraq and Afghanistan “Great Islamic Society Nation Building” / “Winning Muslim [dark] Hearts and [small] Minds)” / “Trillion Dollar Bridge To Nowhere”), other chieftains (ISIS and other Sunnis) will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. - Sun Tzu

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:29 PM

I miss Darth Cheney.

can_con on August 8, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Right now I think a lot of Iraqis miss Saddam Husein. At least in the sense that a lot of Americans now miss Jimmy Carter.

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:32 PM

More like Curtis LeMay time…

William Eaton on August 8, 2014 at 8:28 PM

That works.

KCB on August 8, 2014 at 8:33 PM

To die of old age there I suppose.

There doesn’t seem to be much strategic thought beyond that.

sharrukin on August 8, 2014 at 8:29 PM

And with that I do believe we have pretty much summed up American foreign policy for the last decade or so.

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Coulda woulda shoulda.
Only way to stop ISIS now is a full scale military attack and elimination. Till either us or some other nation with the capability does it, it will be just another never ending battle. We no longer have any politician on the left or right that will commit to something like that anymore, so this is what it’s going to be. To be honest, this has been our military strategy in all our conflicts since WW11, nobody has the will to completely wipe out an enemy.

lowandslow on August 8, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Right now I think a lot of Iraqis miss Saddam Husein. At least in the sense that a lot of Americans now miss Jimmy Carter.

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:32 PM

Obama wanted to be Abe Lincoln, but he has turned into James Buchanan.

Leftist keep waiting for the Great Pumpkin to rise and it never does.

William Eaton on August 8, 2014 at 8:36 PM

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:14 PM

Obama made no attempt to get the Iraqi’s to change their mind.

Basically…. ok, if you won’t negotiate, neither will I.

All he wanted to do was say I brought our troops home from Iraq.
That’s all he cared about.

Barred on August 8, 2014 at 8:38 PM

I miss Darth Cheney.

can_con on August 8, 2014 at 8:29 PM

I do as well.

ISIS will truly put Barf to the test. We know his muslim leanings and sympathies. How willing will he be to step up? He has no problem ignoring Christian suffering abroad – and no problem demonizing them domestically.

Well, the next vacay is on the horizon, so all of this will be cast aside while the press trots off to comment on Mooch’s attire, food fetishes and endless entertainment.

Ghetto trash livin’ large while the country and world burn.

Cody1991 on August 8, 2014 at 8:39 PM

Obama made no attempt to get the Iraqi’s to change their mind.

Basically…. ok, if you won’t negotiate, neither will I.

All he wanted to do was say I brought our troops home from Iraq.
That’s all he cared about.

Barred on August 8, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Once again 91% of Iraqi Muslims think Sharia law is cool.

Really in all fairness to even a doofus like Obama…Iraq is a dump.

William Eaton on August 8, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Obama wanted to be Abe Lincoln, but he has turned into James Buchanan.

Leftist keep waiting for the Great Pumpkin to rise and it never does.

William Eaton on August 8, 2014 at 8:36 PM

More like Pat Buchanan!

Walter L. Newton on August 8, 2014 at 8:44 PM

thatsafactjack on August 8, 2014 at 8:24 PM

We all know Obama is the son of a thousand fathers all bastards like him, but we gave the Iraqis way more than enough lives, limbs and treasure (that we didn’t have except to put on the grandkid’s tab). They owed us. We owe them nothing. They have, or had, an 800,000 man American trained and equipped army.

That doesn’t apply to the Kurds (I don’t consider them Iraqis) though and I think we should help them.

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:45 PM

Remember here is what the Iraqi government thought was important before ISIS overran their frontier.

How do we pass a law so we can marry nine year old girls?

If our troops were still there we would have to do all the fighting…and for what? To secure child molestation for the Shia (I am sure ISIS is down with this as well…for Sunnis of course).

William Eaton on August 8, 2014 at 8:50 PM

Obama made no attempt to get the Iraqi’s to change their mind.

Barred on August 8, 2014 at 8:38 PM

They were pretty determined and there were reports of U.S. Army Generals over there trying to get them to change there minds, and I don’t think they were going behind Obama’s back. It’s extraneous anyway as Obama went with the timetable that Bush (and Maliki) set. That doesn’t mean he can’t bomb ISIS now or supply the Kurds. The muslim middle east will never be peacefull and freedom filled anyway, at least for long, and we can’t be in and stay in all those countries forever. Better to make any stays as brief and as violent as possible.

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:54 PM

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:45 PM

We knew that ‘army’ was infiltrated and riddled with extremists long before we left, just as we knew the government we left in place was corrupt and also close to extremists.

While I’ll agree that we never should have been involved in Iraq, that it was a trap from the very beginning, and that we spent far too many American lives there and far too much treasure, we left it wide open for exactly what has happened there. That was stupid and we’ll be dealing with the result of that stupidity now whether we want to or not. We are now, but we’ve just begun. If you think you’re angry over this, rest assured you’re not alone.

As far as Sun Tzu goes, he was a Chinese general who died @496 B.C. and I’ll disagree with his assessment of the outcome of battle as it relates to this nation, at this time. This nation is not exhausted, we are weary of ‘police actions’, our treasure is not exhausted, we still earn the largest percentage of the world’s GDP, and our weapons are far from dull. The digital age is upon us and a few more real time images from ISIS committing atrocities may well serve to ignite the same sense of urgency and anger this nation felt ahead of WWII. The face of evil never changes, only the names and destinations.

thatsafactjack on August 8, 2014 at 9:02 PM

Can any?

MT on August 8, 2014 at 9:03 PM

SO glad I retired at age 55 in 2009!!!

I knew Obama was going to be “Bill Clinton Bad In Cutting The Military”. But, I had no idea about how “Bad” could be!

Very concerned that under this Yucca-Puck of a C in C. U.S. Armed Forces will be leading the charge against Israel. With Hamas hanging back just a bit!

Jack Deth on August 8, 2014 at 9:08 PM

@Toocon, laying aside any disagreements we may have about the absolute power of the president to wage war without Congressional or popular assent, you would surely agree that when a long and tough campaign is necessary, the support of the American people for the mission is critical.

Sorry, Mary Kate. Any real American president has the power to defend the nation and its interests around the world. During the Cold War, no one ever asked whether the public supported getting nuked or not. No one cared much whether the public supported action against the Barbary pirates or not.

This isn’t even a topic fit to be debated. For all the squawking we hear on the Right about dreaded isolationism of Rand Paul, there should not be any debate on this matter. These are genuine barbarians. Worse than Nazis. Think about that. Worse than Nazis. For once, this is not hyperbole but simple truth.

What exactly is there to debate? Anyone who fights under the black flag should die or face a war crimes trial and execution (since they have declared themselves as a state). The Chechen leadership should be droned and so should any American or EU Muslims who have fought for them.

I disliked Bush’s for-us-or-against-us remarks at the time but this is one instance when there is no real debate to have. The only debate is how quickly to kill as many ISIS fighters as we can, including their nests in northern and southeastern Syria.

Toocon on August 8, 2014 at 9:14 PM

The World will not be fooled.

PackerBronco on August 8, 2014 at 7:54 PM

You give the world FAR too much credit. They awarded the guy a Nobel Peace Prize. For being elected!

xNavigator on August 8, 2014 at 9:23 PM

With this President, the political enters more into the decision making process than doing the right thing. That’s been obvious for years, just take the ACA website as just one example. With that in mind, there is no way to have a workable strategy to thwart ISIS in Iraq. The problem is he has no advisers who will give him the advice he needs to do the right thing. He has plenty of advisers willing to tell him about the political thing to do, most of them are really terrible at the right thing.

bflat879 on August 8, 2014 at 9:29 PM

Democrats and Muslims are responsible for this mess. Let them work it out. Let not one drop of blood from one American patriot be shed over this!

claudius on August 8, 2014 at 9:36 PM

“Operation Martha’s Vineyard”

SailorMark on August 8, 2014 at 9:47 PM

However, the President was too interested in simply getting out and trying to claim credit for that with his base than to actually be reasonable about the prospects of the region and do the necessary work to insure the stability of the region.

That is a horrifying statement if true. Translated, it means that our foreign policy is run by LIVs.

We have achieved Idiocracy without the electrolytes.

Reuben Hick on August 8, 2014 at 9:55 PM

“So what is the end game of troops in Iraq?”

Simple. Stop the spread of the Iskamuc a caliphate now while it is possible. What will you do when they take the rest of the Middle East and threaten Europe and America? Yeah, I know, they are only 11,000 strong. Now. Wouldn’t it have been better to stop Hitler before he swallowed Europe?

Techster64 on August 8, 2014 at 9:57 PM

Obama’s political promise was to pull out in 16 months. He didn’t do that. Instead he followed the Bush/Maliki Status of Forces agreement which the Iraqis were willing to ‘renegotiate’ but only if they got to put American troops on trial in Islamic courts.

I don’t know how many times this has to be said to sink in.

VorDaj on August 8, 2014 at 8:14 PM

Obama had a SOFA with Maliki, and then insisted that Maliki run it by the Parliament. They refused to agree without the option to prosecute.

I don’t know how many times that needs to be said, either.

Recon5 on August 8, 2014 at 10:09 PM

Simple. Stop the spread of the Iskamuc a caliphate now while it is possible. What will you do when they take the rest of the Middle East and threaten Europe and America? Yeah, I know, they are only 11,000 strong. Now. Wouldn’t it have been better to stop Hitler before he swallowed Europe?

Techster64 on August 8, 2014 at 9:57 PM

The problem is that they are everywhere throughout the Muslim world. It isn’t just ISIS. Its the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, al-Shabab, Jemaah Islamiyah, and many, many others.

Which one will be the group that founds the Caliphate?

I am fine with death from above and supporting the stone-cold bastards who will rule these nations and keep such groups at bay.

We cannot however occupy the entire Muslim world.

In Iraq you had an army of 800,000 put to flight by 11,000 invaders. That isn’t a winning formula. The soldiers didn’t want to fight for Iraq. They wanted to fight for the Kurdish people, the Sunni’s, or the Shia. You want an army that will stand? Then build an army that has a motive to do so. Saddam had one.

The United States doesn’t have the troops, the money, or the patience to garrison all of these places.

sharrukin on August 8, 2014 at 10:13 PM

Sorry, Mary Kate. Any real American president has the power to defend the nation and its interests around the world. During the Cold War, no one ever asked whether the public supported getting nuked or not. No one cared much whether the public supported action against the Barbary pirates or not.
This isn’t even a topic fit to be debated. For all the squawking we hear on the Right about dreaded isolationism of Rand Paul, there should not be any debate on this matter. These are genuine barbarians. Worse than Nazis. Think about that. Worse than Nazis. For once, this is not hyperbole but simple truth.

My name is not Mary Kate. Saying there’s not a debate doesn’t make the debate disappear, though you and Obama share this tendency to project your wishes upon a situation and declare it all better. There IS a debate about how much America should be involved in fighting these people, though there’s almost no argument about them being terrible. And, it’s fairly obvious that lack of public support has hampered winning wars in Vietnam and Iraq now (though there were certainly other factors), so if you’re interested in *winning* wars, as I am, you do have to consider public support. And, like it or not, a bunch of people don’t agree with you, probably including the President whose unilateral powers you’re relying on to execute this military action to completion. So, you might wanna get to practicing convincing people.

Mary Katharine Ham on August 8, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Whatever we think of Obama, regardless of what he thinks, this is the moment where he needs to grow up, get real, realize he’s the leader of the most powerful force for good ever to exist on Earth, pick up his figurative sword and LEAD.

If he doesn’t, we’re all screwed. Stop trying to thread the needle with the suicide caucus that is his base to scrape together a few more bucks to save the midterms, while also doing the right thing fighting genocide and pestilence. The Democrats are toast in the midterms. Let them go Barry. LEAD. You want a legacy? LEAD. America will surprise the living sh*t out of you and follow. I promise.

platapapin on August 8, 2014 at 10:41 PM

The best time and way to act in Iraq (post Bush-era mistakes, which I am not denying) would have been to preserve those gains by getting a Status of Forces Agreement and leaving some troops in a relatively stable country to guide Iraqi troops and maintain influence on the increasingly problematic Maliki.

Exactly!
Should never have completely left in the first place. That was the REAL Obama.

But as with everything else this a-hole blurts outta his pie-hole, it comes with an expiration date. That he would consider some sort of sustained military action is so not like him, but he always says one thing and does the opposite.

The lot of you here have it pretty well nailed – the man is a tool and not a leader.

Pelosi Schmelosi on August 8, 2014 at 11:07 PM

King Barack will do exactly what President Jarrett tells him to do.

GarandFan on August 8, 2014 at 11:28 PM

Obama orders a little F-18 air show with several explosions for ISIS to watch. Then it will be time for vacation and after that go burn fuel with Air Force One to whore for money. Profiles in Cowardice.

Krupnikas on August 8, 2014 at 11:37 PM

I don’t wish to be disrespectful but who would ever follow his guy voluntarily? The average guy in my 1966 Army infantry platoon would have slapped this guy until he wet his pants and we weren’t even convinced about the war we were in. We were in the war solely for each other.

Mason on August 8, 2014 at 11:42 PM

One nightmare scenario (there are numerous others) would be for Putin to align himself with these thugs. Such an alliance, while dangerous (Russians have had their trouble with islamists), would certainly put ‘bambi back on his heels.

That’s all they need, a major supporter. The new axis of evil drops the Norks down some. Islamists, Russians, Iranians.

By the way, was ISIS being armed through what was happening in Benghazi? Serious (not rhetorical) question.

freedomfirst on August 8, 2014 at 11:49 PM

That’s all they need, a major supporter.

They already have one. The United States. Who do you think supplied them to begin with? Now they are out of control.

Russia is backing their enemy Assad and supplied SU-25 attack aircraft to Iraq as did Iran.

By the way, was ISIS being armed through what was happening in Benghazi? Serious (not rhetorical) question.

freedomfirst on August 8, 2014 at 11:49 PM

Yes. The US and allies were funneling arms from Libya to Syria.

In Turnabout, Syria Rebels Get Libyan Weapons

As the United States and its Western allies move toward providing lethal aid to Syrian rebels, these secretive transfers give insight into an unregistered arms pipeline that is difficult to monitor or control. And while the system appears to succeed in moving arms across multiple borders and to select rebel groups, once inside Syria the flow branches out. Extremist fighters, some of them aligned with Al Qaeda, have the money to buy the newly arrived stock, and many rebels are willing to sell.

sharrukin on August 9, 2014 at 12:08 AM

So, you might wanna get to practicing convincing people.

Mary Katharine Ham on August 8, 2014 at 10:28 PM

It may be different this time, MKH. With the recent images of the barbarity coming out over the Internet, low-info voters may be seeing “Islam Unleashed” for the first time. If the pictures of Hamas hanging children out to be human shields and ISIS “gleefully” cutting heads off work their way up the Facebook stream, we may be more united than you think.

John the Libertarian on August 9, 2014 at 12:29 AM

Mary Katharine Ham on August 8, 2014 at 8:15 PM

.
Sorry, Mary Kate . . . . .

Toocon on August 8, 2014 at 9:14 PM

.
! ? ! ? ! ?

What the (expletive) was that ?

listens2glenn on August 9, 2014 at 12:53 AM

Sorry, Mary Kate . . . . .

Toocon on August 8, 2014 at 9:14 PM

.
My name is not Mary Kate.

Mary Katharine Ham on August 8, 2014 at 10:28 PM

.
Oh, she caught it … never mind: )

listens2glenn on August 9, 2014 at 12:58 AM

And, like it or not, a bunch of people don’t agree with you, probably including the President whose unilateral powers you’re relying on to execute this military action to completion. So, you might wanna get to practicing convincing people. – Mary Katharine Ham at 10:28 PM

I won’t dignify the notion that there is anything to debate. America has to take these ISIS people out wherever we find them. They are a direct security threat to this country. We have to clean out their Syrian nests. We have to take action against their considerable assets including taking lethal action against their financial supporters in Kuwait and in Qatar. They have at least a hundred American jihadis with passports to return here to the States. One of them just spent a month back home in Florida before committing a suicide bombing over there.

Would you like this debate you propose to continue until the next Boston Marathon bombing? That’s what you will get when you tolerate Chechen terrorists. And this ISIS outfit is led by Chechen radicals. All the things the Chechens did in Russia (Beslan, Moscow theater and subway massacres) will come to America and to Europe if we just have some lovely debate about it and continue doing nothing.

The time for any debate over ISIS is long since over. The Iraqi army has mostly melted away and the spirited Kurds aren’t strong enough without us. The “debate” you want to have mostly centers around the fantasies spun by the deluded White House about how the Saudis should go take them on militarily. Or the Turks. Those are pipe dreams for the Choom Gang in the Oval Office.

Having a “debate” is often just a way for incompetents to feel they are doing something important by flapping their gums. Or to delay, hoping the big problem will just go away.

There is nothing to debate. Except for those who like to debate to avoid taking action.

Toocon on August 9, 2014 at 1:51 AM

It is significant that the operation taking place in Iraq has no name. It is as if there will be a couple of bombs thrown, several C-130′s worth of MRE’s dropped, followed by a declaration of the saving of humanity, followed by…..crickets.

vnvet on August 8, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Let’s fix that.
Let’s name this “Operation Urgent Pinprick”.

And take a page from Alinsky’s playbook. Isolate, ridicule, disempower BHO. We don’t need 2/3 of the Senate for that.

My name is not Mary Kate.

Mary Katharine Ham on August 8, 2014 at 10:28 PM

Listens2Glenn:
For some unguessable reason, she prefers to be addressed by her own name, rather than someone else’s.
She might answer to “M-Kat”, though.

ReggieA on August 9, 2014 at 1:54 AM

ISIS totally understands the part of the koran (2nd sura) that says to “Kill non-Muslims where you find them… Unbelief is worse than killling.” ISIS gets it. They’re not radical anythings, they’re just Muslims.

Mojave Mark on August 9, 2014 at 2:01 AM

Warning: Rant on!

Your president is completely disinterested in his job, the speech last night showed how much he hates having to eeewwww, work. I argued this to a faithful progressive 3-1/2 years ago. Couple that with his limited intelligence we have a two term disaster here.

I am so disgusted with tunnel vision centralized planning on the east coast. It should be clear to anyone that the elite are NO MORE informed, enlightened, intelligent with LESS COMMON SENSE than the average blue collar HS grad that reads a Sunday newspaper. I fully trust this persons judgment more that any Haavaad grad with a BA in Poly Sci.

Kerry is worrying the Palestinians when the Jews can take care of them just fine without his, uh, er “help”. Egypt is making more progress that Kerry is. Meanwhile the rest of the Middle East is blowing up in his botox face.

It didn’t take a rocket surgeon to see the obvious and sensible avenue for at least a glimmer of hope after the Iraqi “military” breakdown the day ISIS moved across the Syrian/Iraq border.

There is no hope to resolve the Shia-Sunni problem in Iraq without them solving it for themselves. That mean lots of blood, but it’s their fight and their way. Iran will meddle in it and the Sunni’s may gain backing at some time from it neighbors (or ISIS), but a state for the Sunni’s and a state for the Shia is the only solution. It looks now like the Sunni’s will likely be shallowed by ISIS.

So that leave the Kurds. I wrote here weeks, or a month ago the Kurds should be armed to the teeth by the US, as long as it takes with as much hardware and intel they need to carve the largest chunk of No. Iraq they are willing to die for. I have no doubt they will too.

The problems then becomes Turkey’s likely resistance to a Kurdish state. The obvious question to put to the Turks is would you rather have ISIS as your southern neighbor or a friendly Kurdish state keeping them off your back. No brainer. They will likely have a Kurd uprising when the Iraqi Kurds establish a state sometime down the road. But if they are smart they would let them have a few acres and set up long term friendly agreements. The side benefit is it may help destabilized Iran.

Why should we get involved? The Kurds are hopeful, desperate and committed to not yield to ISIS. Putin will horn in on the only girl left in the bar at last call and we’ll have to go home alone it we don’t move now and in a big way.

Progressive are blinded by their religion. The problem is it doesn’t consider human nature.

BTW I AM a Libertarian, committed to the Non-Aggression Principle. Have been since Reagan’s first term. But reality is reality, human nature is what Liberty is all about. I have no problem helping others be free.

Ok I’m done. Thanks for letting me vent.

old school on August 9, 2014 at 3:23 AM

Want to make a case for using the CAUF (which the Administration admits IS STILL VALID after trying to get Congress to repeal it)?

Simple. Take some of the film shot of the Einsatzgruppen at work and then slowly colorize it and morph it to current video of ISIS at work.

Dead simple.

Tell the world the words ‘never again’ mean something.

Give arms and aid to the Christians fleeing ISIS so they can defend themselves.

Give aid to the Yezidi who won’t defend themselves and do not deserve to die at the hands of barbarians.

Send arms, aid, heavy equipment, spotters to the Kurds and coordinate between the Iraqi Army (such as it is) and US bombers. I’ve seen the footage of what a very few special forces and USAF spotters did in Afghanistan and they can be devastating if, and only IF, there are ground forces to then take the cleared tactical areas.

Turn a blind eye to Kurds declaring sovereignty and annexing eastern Syria where they have cousins and family in the population. Let a Lesser Kurdistan stand up as a civilizing force in the region and remind Arabs and Turks as to WHY the Kurds are civilized by letting the Kurds show how civilization can be done in a barbaric region. I disagree with some Kurdish practices, yes, but they are a damned sight better than Iran, Syria or ISIS.

This does not take hundreds of thousands of boots on the ground, but simply arming individuals in self-defense against war after they have fled from tyrannical regions that have denied them that simple, Natural Right. Protect the innocent from the Einsatzgruppen types, and make sure that the killers are destroyed, not ‘decimated’.

ISIS won’t flee at a whiff of grapeshot. A whiff of napalm and anonymous death from the skies along with Kurds giving them no quarter just might get the idea across to these few tearing away at civilization that duty to civilization gives strength to fight mere barbarism.

Yet these few things, well within Obama’s reach and without a need for more moral justification than can be easily shown is BEYOND Barack Hussein Johnson. Obama now has his LBJ moment and he has been unable to learn from DEMOCRATIC MISTAKES of the past. He will dither, the world will burn as this noxious form of barbarism won’t stop at any sea. And yet so little is needed to be done that it is pitiful, in extremis, to think a barnstorming, speechifying and putting off of DOING SOMETHING WORTH DOING is needed while more are slaughtered. Calling for Obama to do that will simply put him on stage with his fiddle, while Rome burns. All the lovely music didn’t stop Rome from burning from fires set at the Emperor’s behest. Do or do not, there is no other path.

ajacksonian on August 9, 2014 at 7:04 AM

More like Curtis LeMay time…

Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t “O” fired any and all of these types of Generals?

RADIOONE on August 9, 2014 at 7:40 AM

For our allies, Obama is like the friend who says he’s a friend but he doesn’t act or feel like a friend.

LashRambo on August 9, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Operation Political Expediency

Bmore on August 9, 2014 at 9:20 AM

Operation Wag the Dog…remember the good old days when billy bob clinton killed a camel and blew up a tent just to say he did something. What about the aspirin factory in Bosnia?

crosshugger on August 9, 2014 at 9:37 AM

obama is a traitor and back stabber and he has surrounded himself with people like him….

crosshugger on August 9, 2014 at 9:39 AM

The problems then becomes Turkey’s likely resistance to a Kurdish state. The obvious question to put to the Turks is would you rather have ISIS as your southern neighbor or a friendly Kurdish state keeping them off your back. No brainer.
. . .
BTW I AM a Libertarian, committed to the Non-Aggression Principle. Have been since Reagan’s first term. But reality is reality, human nature is what Liberty is all about. I have no problem helping others be free. – old school at 3:23 AM

The non-aggression principle does not dictate being a total pacifist.

Truly gross violators of non-aggression like ISIS should be targeted for elimination by all the civilized nations. It should be brought before the U.N. for action. Nothing about ISIS conforms to any lawful nation. They proclaim themselves a state by committing genocide and terrorism against targeted minorities and even conventional Sunnis.

They have declared themselves a caliphate, a nation. And that means that they are no longer non-uniformed combatants like al-Qaeda was. The international laws on warfare can be applied to Islamic State. They are a nation committing widespread genocide and pose a direct threat to all their neighbors who are far more conforming to international norms for human rights.

Turkey has already been quite receptive to the idea of a Kurdish state. They have reached your obvious conclusion about choosing who their neighbor will be: Kurdistan or Islamic State. They are signaling their choice of Kurdistan by flying their F-16′s over northern Iraq for “observation”. Whether they’ll go in in a big way unless we take the lead is another question. And Erdogan faces election in a few days, trying to win the presidency of Turkey since he’s only been a PM all these years.

Turkey and Qatar were key supporters of the Syrian rebels trying to topple Assad. It does appear that Turkey is taking a very different view of Islamic State rising across Iraq instead of just being a rebel force to topple Assad. Turkey and Qatar were also recent joint meddlers in the Israel/Gaza matter, with the Israeli security cabinet calling Kerry their paid spokesman publicly. So there are many undercurrents and agendas throughout the region. Egypt also blamed Qatar and Turkey for Pali intransigence on ceasefires with the whole thing becoming another crashing failure of the Barry/Hilly/Lurch/Rice foreign policy execution. Sadly, only Samantha Powers has any backbone at all.

Egypt and Turkey and Iran/Baghdad/Syria are all key players here.

Lurch and Obama are helpless in raising an international coalition to deal with these barbarians. Everyone condemns them (even al-Qaeda) and no one will fight them. The failure to respond to an ongoing genocide in Iraq and Syria is simply jaw-dropping.

Toocon on August 9, 2014 at 10:02 AM

This isn’t Kosovo… and air strikes (only) aren’t going to get the job done…

Khun Joe on August 9, 2014 at 10:51 AM

After being SHAMED into action by the pleading Iraqis / Pope / world, Obama announced, “We are NOW coming to help.” His look, as he declared this, was the look of a child not only being forced to eat the ‘nasty’ veggies his grandmother cooked but was also being FORCED to tell her he ‘loves’ them. Despite thousands of women and children having been slaughtered / beheaded and despite thousands more being in jeopardy of the same, the look on Obama’s face showed the whole world he only made the decision to order military action be taken because his hand was ‘FORCED’.

easyt65 on August 9, 2014 at 12:20 PM

The time to act, to launch air strikes, was when the mile-long ISIS convoys traveled south along a desolate desert highway on the way to Mosul, before they had ever had a chance to attack anyone. Their ‘army’ could have been decimated, reduced to a retreating hoard…our President, however, was content to sit back and watch ISIS/ISIL conquer most of the nation we liberated at great cost, butchering, beheading, and slaughtering thousands of innocent men, women, and children as they went / go. Iraq is LOST, divided and never to be whole again. Instead of stopping evil in its tracks, our best hope now is to try to contain it for as long as we can while protecting those innocents – for a time – who face genocide…and to prepare for ISIS’ promised attacks on America.

easyt65 on August 9, 2014 at 12:32 PM

It’s times like this that a Commander in Chief who leads is helpful. Leaders have the ability to change minds, to convince Americans that their sacrifices are necessary.

Is there any evidence that Obama can become that man?

No. Next question?

Sacramento on August 9, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Is it Vietnam yet?

Is it Vietnam yet?

Is it, is it, is it Vietnam yet?!

Oh, sorry, I forgot he’s a Democrat.

Tard on August 9, 2014 at 3:06 PM

The time to act, to launch air strikes, was when the mile-long ISIS convoys traveled south along a desolate desert highway on the way to Mosul, before they had ever had a chance to attack anyone.

Or, you know, we could have just never invaded Iraq at all.

triple on August 9, 2014 at 4:24 PM

It seems to argue that this moron is just that – a moron without a hint of substantive intelligence to avoid this kind of travesty. But again, there is all that strategic “genius” of Solyndra, shovel-non-ready jobs, Russian resets, incisive Benghazi action, stupid health care lies – among dozens of other examples – which at some point might even wake up one or two of my half-witted former college professor colleagues….
Naaah, never going to happen.

RL on August 9, 2014 at 7:32 PM

The answer to the question in the title depends on whether Obama tries to run things or not. If he just goes off and plays golf and lets the military run things, there is a chance ISIS can be stopped. But if Obama thinks he needs to look presidential and tries to micromanage the conflict, all hope is lost. He has not grasp of the military and will turn all soft when peacenik, big donor Democrats turn on him.

For the sake of the people of Iraq and the security of the US down the road, I hope our military does all it can, regardless of what specific instructions they have been given. Time for a bit of exceeding orders.

bartbeast on August 11, 2014 at 10:39 AM