After heading back to Martha’s Vineyard despite the butchering of American journalist James Foley, Barack Obama has scheduled a live statement from his vacation at 12:45 ET, presumably to discuss the brutal killing and the American response to ISIS. The announcement of the presser came after US intelligence verified the video released by ISIS as authentic:
U.S. intelligence analyzed the video and determined that it was authentic, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Wednesday.
Obama has been briefed about the video, and “he will continue to receive regular updates,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
ISIS has carried out executions, including beheadings, as part of its effort to establish an Islamic caliphate that stretches from Syria into Iraq. In many cases, ISIS — which refers to itself as the Islamic State — has videotaped the executions and posted them online.
What will Obama have to say about the ghastly execution? John Nolte has a pretty good idea of what Obama won’t say:
Just a guess, but two letters Obama will not use in his statement today are "J" and "V".
— Let's Start Our Own MAGA CHAZ! (@NolteNC) August 20, 2014
It’s a pretty fair bet that President Obama won’t take Max Boot’s advice, either:
What is needed now is not strongly worded condemnation of Foley’s murder, much less a hashtag campaign. What is needed is a politico-military strategy to annihilate ISIS rather than simply chip around the edges of its burgeoning empire. In the Spectator of London I recently outlined what such a strategy should look like. In brief, it will require a commitment of some 10,000 U.S. advisors and Special Operators, along with enhanced air power, to work with moderate elements in both Iraq and Syria–meaning not only the peshmerga but also the Sunni tribes, elements of the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Free Syrian Army–to stage a major offensive to rout ISIS out of its newly conquered strongholds. The fact that Nouri al-Maliki is leaving power in Baghdad clears away a major obstacle to such a campaign.
Now it is simply a matter of resources and resolve on the part of the U.S. and its allies. That, of course, remains the big unknown–how far will President Obama go? He has been willing in the last few weeks to apply a liberal interpretation of his original mandate for U.S. forces in Iraq, which was to protect Americans in Erbil and Baghdad. But beyond protecting the Yazidis and retaking Mosul Dam we still need a strategy to annihilate ISIS. It can be done–and if done right it will be the best, indeed the only worthy, response to James Foley’s barbaric demise.
I suspect we’ll hear a lot about “no American military solution” and “helping the Iraqis unite” today, as we have heard all along. We may get a little more detail on the current status of air strikes, plus shout-outs to other nations who want to come on board with the American response, but don’t expect any course change today. That would come in an Oval Office address, if at all. Will Obama respond to Pope Francis’ remarks? Not if he’s not going to offer anything new, but perhaps Obama might use Francis’ statement to urge the United Nations to get its act together regarding ISIS.
So what’s the over/under on when Obama actually reaches the podium today? I’ll say 1:15 ET.
Update: The statement itself, castigating ISIS and lauding the memory of James Foley, was emotional and engaged. I agree with this statement:
We will be “vigilant and relentless,” Obama promised. Let’s hope that will be the case.
Update: Just noticed the subhed didn’t match this post, but one I’m working on for later. I’ve changed it.