Get ready to hear a lot about the international coalition executing strikes in Syria. While joined only by France while attacking ISIS targets in Iraq, the United States partnered with five Arab nations in the skies over Syria. At the United Nations General Assembly meeting today, President Barack Obama is expected to tout how the region is actively following America’s lead in combating this threat to Western civilization.
Just how active the role America’s regional partners are taking in this mission is, however, debatable. “The vast majority of airstrikes launched against Sunni militant targets in Syria have been carried out by American war planes and ship-based Tomahawk cruise missiles, military officials said Tuesday,” The New York Times reported.
The Times noted that the White House “sought to paint a picture of an international coalition resolute in its determination” when he revealed that the U.S. was joined by Saudis, Qataris, Jordanians, Bahrainis, and Emiratis when they executed strikes on ISIS and Khorasan Group targets. The Times piece conveys skepticism in the notion that the forces these nations committed to the strikes in Syria were anything more than a token.
Jordan said that “a number of Royal Jordanian Air Force fighters destroyed” several targets but did not specify where; the Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the air force “launched its first strikes against ISIL targets” on Monday evening, using another acronym for the Islamic State. American officials said that Saudi Arabia and Bahrain took active part in the strikes, and that Qatar played a “supporting” role.
But Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., the director of operations with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the majority of strikes were carried out by American warplanes and cruise missiles, with the aim of hindering the ability of the Islamic State to cross the border into Iraq and attack Iraqi forces.
Raise your hand if you are even remotely surprised by this revelation.
It is a diplomatic victory for the White House to be able to accurately note that the Sunni world is taking a proactive approach to treating the cancer in their region. It is, however, not surprising that American forces, which maintain far more operational capability than do their Arab allies, is taking the lead on combat operations.
It was interpreted as a sign of reluctance on the part of the coalition partners did not take the lead on combat operations in Iraq in the last decade. Any hint of risk aversion on the part of America’s allies was routinely elevated by the Western media to reinforce the notion that George W. Bush’s Iraq War was illegitimate.
This story in The Times does not suggest there is anything operationally wrong with allowing U.S. forces to execute the majority of strikes on targets in Syria. Indeed, it is the most strategically sound course of action. But The Times was compelled to issue a perfunctory squeak of disapproval as yet another of the left’s claims to moral authority from the Bush era is repudiated by Obama.