WSJ: Obama mulling a military rescue mission for Yazidis in northern Iraq

posted at 9:21 am on August 13, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Throughout the crisis in Iraq and Syria and the sweep of ISIS across both, Barack Obama has remained adamant about one thing — that nothing happening there will move him to put American “boots on the ground” again in Iraq. The ineffectiveness of US air strikes in relieving the trapped Yazidis and stopping the ISIS genocide on Mount Sinjar may finallt have Obama backing away from that pledge. The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that the administration has begun to consider a military intervention to rescue the Yazidis, one that could put American forces into combat with ISIS for the first time (via Daniel Doherty):

The U.S. is weighing a military mission in Iraq to rescue thousands of Yazidi refugees, a move that risks putting American forces in direct confrontation with Sunni fighters for the Islamic State.

The proposal is still under development and hasn’t been approved by President Barack Obama. U.S. officials said the rescue mission is one of many options the U.S. military is weighing after dropping food and water to dying refugees over the past six days.

“People are looking at ways to do something more than just drop water and supplies,” one senior U.S. official said. “You can only do that for so long.”

It’s one thing to mull the options. It’s another to give the order. Any review of the situation and the solutions to the acute crises with the Yazidis would have to include an armed intervention, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the US will decide to do it. The rhetoric from the White House has been in total opposition to that very idea from the beginning. Just yesterday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Marines explicitly that there would be no boots on the ground:

“This is not a combat, boots-on-the-ground operation,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during a talk Tuesday afternoon with U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif. “But, short of that, there are some things that we can continue to do—and we are doing.”

No rescue operation is likely to take place until the U.S. military gets a better understanding of the scope of the crisis. American officials don’t know how many refugees are trapped in the mountains. Estimates range from several thousand to as many as 35,000 people.

In an earlier post, I noted that the Pentagon had boosted its presence of military advisers in Irbil by 130, more than three times its previous roster. Hagel mentioned this yesterday too, promising that their analysis would be brought back to the Pentagon “very shortly.” The previous team had already completed its analysis weeks ago, to which the Obama administration has not yet responded. While Hagel was denying that the new deployment of military advisers was a combat force, his actual language hedged quite a bit on the future — leaving plenty of wiggle room for change of heart, as the more complete quote from ABC makes a little more clear:

Hagel described the new team in Erbil as not going beyond the parameters President Obama has laid out for the earlier teams sent to Baghdad.  He said the assessment team was “not a combat boots on the ground operation. As the president has made very clear, we are not going back into Iraq in any of the same combat missions dimensions that we once were in in Iraq.”

“We’re not going to have that kind of operation, but short of that there are some things that we are going to continue to do and we are doing,” said Hagel.

“In any of the same combat missions dimensions”? That’s quite a bit different than saying “no boots on the ground ever.” The previous mission dimension was a full-scale invasion and occupation. Even the most hawkish of US hawks don’t foresee that as a realistic option, nor would it be necessary. However, if the US wants to stop the genocide on Mount Sinjar and roll back ISIS away from key territory — Kurdistan for one, and perhaps the very dangerous Mosul Dam for another — it will take more than a few water drops and supply airlifts, punctuated by occasional air strikes.

However, there would be no turning back from that decision by Obama, either. He not only would have to authorize combat operations in Iraq, which would make hash of his many claims over the last three years to have “ended the war,” he will have to prepare the country for that redeployment and reopening of hostilities. That would mean being honest about the collapse of Iraq and the role the US withdrawal had in it, and the need to stay engaged not just in Iraq but also in Afghanistan, where the same scenario is about to unfold as soon as we leave. With that in mind, don’t expect any US military intervention on Mount Sinjar or anywhere else in Iraq. The costs to Obama are simply too high.


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Bmore

Schadenfreude on August 13, 2014 at 12:38 PM

obama owns it all

Schadenfreude on August 13, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Thanks. I could not remember the name of the site. If this is not Al Muthanna, then someone needs to pick up the red phone fast…

luckybogey on August 13, 2014 at 12:29 PM

And then some.

After all, since the theme song of the Rio Grande is “We Are The World”, some of that is coming to a mall near you.

formwiz on August 13, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Mull away, jackass.

Rivers on August 13, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Mcveigh was an atheist but JIM56 what should the USA do if ISIS crosses our open southern border and causes several terror attacks on the Homeland? Would you continue to say its not of our business and resort to the International Community as Obama always says? I just wonder if you are ready to surrender your liberties and freedoms to this group?

garydt on August 13, 2014 at 1:11 PM

garydt on August 13, 2014 at 1:11 PM

Under that thought process forwarded by a few isolationists, you shouldn’t be allowed to defend yourself until after you had sustained massive injuries. Legitimizes the UN to a disturbing degree, too.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Jim56 and Ned never answer these basic questions even after being asked several times.

garydt on August 13, 2014 at 1:37 PM

garydt on August 13, 2014 at 1:37 PM

It’s better than non-empirical pontification some of the other doves like to kick into. lol, I’m fine with quiet.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 1:38 PM

We need to send all of our A-10s to the Kurds and deploy a couple of AC-130Us to pulverize ISIS into a gelatinous mass, so locals can then complete the clean up. That would be cheaper, safer, and more effective in every way than just evacuating people from their homelands without solving any of the real problems. Getting a Status of Forces Agreement should be a contemporaneous agenda item, so we have and can use actionable intelligence to address build-ups of terrorist units, before they get to current tsunami (as the locals see it) levels.

Ay Uaxe on August 13, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Ay Uaxe on August 13, 2014 at 1:39 PM

That’d be great and all, but the problem is it’s not remotely that simple. ISIS knows and has been melting into local populations at the first show of force. They know we have no door-to-door method to root them out, which allows them to forward military goals without an issue or serious threat.

That and the fact that sending all our goods leaves us exposed elsewhere. Badly, at that.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler to go in and kick ISISs ass around the mountain and let the people walk out instead of an airlift?

Sven on August 13, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Barry do what you always do, dither. Wait until 75 % of the innocents are beheaded, then make a strong plea for the UN to do something. After 90% of the innocents are beheaded, announce to the country, our rush to their assistance. Then hold an interview and take credit for saving those still alive.

steveracer on August 13, 2014 at 1:55 PM

Face it – he’s going to “mull it over” until they’re all dead – then it’s not his problem any more.

dentarthurdent on August 13, 2014 at 2:03 PM

American officials don’t know how many refugees are trapped in the mountains. Estimates range from several thousand to as many as 35,000 people.

Well, if they wait long enough, there won’t be any.
Problem solved!

Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler to go in and kick ISISs ass around the mountain and let the people walk out instead of an airlift?

Sven on August 13, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Of course, but that would involve using force against Muslims. And as imPOTUS stated in his autobiography, when the chips were down he would stand with the Muslims. (Even though he says he’s a Christian. Cough, cough.)

Me? I’d use a few MOABs to clear the way, then send in buses to pick up the survivors. A-10s for air cover, just in case.

And if the ISIS fighters “melt” into a town, then I’d melt the town. If it’s an ISIS town, then all opposition has been killed or converted; all that’s left are combattants or collaborators, targets all. Nuke them hard, as a lesson for the next ones; and if Iraq complains remind them that they abandoned that town. We’re just denying it to the Enemy.

ReggieA on August 13, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Mull….mull….mull……..this President is always mulling. If its an humanitarian emergency, if its genocide, isn’t he capable of acting swiftly? This is just like his mull….mull….mulling….what to do about the approaching Iranian nuclear weapons and delivery systems. I suppose he figures, if he mulls long enough, it will be a fait accompli, and he will not have to make a decision. Decisions seem to not be his forte….he prefers to vote Present.

kjatexas on August 13, 2014 at 2:19 PM

Mcveigh was an atheist but JIM56 what should the USA do if ISIS crosses our open southern border and causes several terror attacks on the Homeland? Would you continue to say its not of our business and resort to the International Community as Obama always says? I just wonder if you are ready to surrender your liberties and freedoms to this group?

garydt on August 13, 2014 at 1:11 PM

Then we attack them here and figure out what we can effectively do to ISIS in the Middle East.

jim56 on August 13, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Jim56 and Ned never answer these basic questions even after being asked several times.

garydt on August 13, 2014 at 1:37 PM

I post when time permits. Sorry for the delay.

jim56 on August 13, 2014 at 2:56 PM

By the end of next week, there will be substantial BOG in northern Iraq, there will massive engagements with ISIL, and dead American troops.

And all this focus on a celebrity who committed suicide will seem trite in comparison.

What is about to be done, has been to be done.

And all you Paul-sympathizers, Paulinstas, Paul-tards, Glen Greenwalds, Code Pink types better get the F— out of the way and let the grown-ups in the Marines go to work.

Either ISIL dies or we do.

HDFOB on August 13, 2014 at 3:14 PM

HDFOB on August 13, 2014 at 3:14 PM

I severely doubt POTUS is gonna clear a ground op any time soon.

Ebola on August 13, 2014 at 4:00 PM

Its ok Jim, I am in here and out too so it seems I am always late especially being in the PST zone.

garydt on August 13, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Ebola on August 13, 2014

Thanks for your response….I am very familiar with all the bombings you mentioned, and my question(s) were asked because I was curious if you would/would not include the OK City bombing under the “Christian extremist” umbrella….McVeigh was ‘agnostic’….

(CNN) — Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck are the co-authors of the book “American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing.” Both Michel and Herbeck serve as reporters for The Buffalo News. Michel has won numerous awards for his writings about the Oklahoma City bombing.
_______________________________________________________

Lou Michel: McVeigh is agnostic. He doesn’t believe in God, but he won’t rule out the possibility. I asked him, “What if there is a heaven and hell?”

He said that once he crosses over the line from life to death, if there is something on the other side, he will — and this is using his military jargon — “adapt, improvise, and overcome.” Death to him is all part of the adventure.

(Posting a CNN link must be verboten here, but this info is easily found with any search engine)

tanked59 on August 13, 2014 at 7:12 PM

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