I applaud President Obama’s decision to send humanitarian relief and order air strikes against ISIS in Iraq. The strikes are being described as “limited,” and I am afraid they will turn out to be what John Kerry had in mind when he promised “unbelievably small” military action in Syria. But it’s better than nothing.
President Obama’s announcement of the actions last night, however, reflects how little he has learned in six and one-half years in office. This was the president’s logic:
I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’ve done. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.
Which at this point, no one is calling for. But there is a reason why Obama is giving a press conference on Iraq: it is descending into chaos, ISIS has taken over large swaths of the country and threatened more, Christians are being slaughtered and American security interests are threatened. Until now, Obama has been entirely passive as the crisis has grown.
And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.
Characteristically, Obama elevates liberal dogma–”there’s no American military solution”–over reality. The fact is that American military force overthrew Saddam Hussein, put down the Sunni insurrection and turned Iraq into the stable, increasingly prosperous country that Obama once claimed as one of the great accomplishments of his administration. It may become apparent, at some future date, that only American military force can stop ISIS from terrorizing the country. Whether our military should be deployed in that scenario will of course be debatable. But if history is a guide, Obama’s judgment will be ruled by dogma, not the facts on the ground.
The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.
More liberal babble. There can’t be any reconciliation with ISIS, and there can’t be peace and security in Iraq until ISIS is defeated. Stronger Iraqi security forces are of course needed. But what Obama intends to do to bring about that desirable goal is, at this point, unknown. And finally this:
I’ve been careful to resist calls to turn time and again to our military, because America has other tools in our arsenal than our military. We can also lead with the power of our diplomacy, our economy, and our ideals.
We have seen how well that has worked in Iraq, elsewhere in the Middle East, and around the world. ISIS is utterly uninterested in diplomacy, even if Obama’s diplomacy were not incompetent. Nor are they amenable to economic pressure–they are, in fact, the best-funded terrorist organization in history–and, to put it mildly, they do not share our ideals.
President Obama’s performance last night, like most of his statements on foreign policy, is a reminder that his liberal platitudes are utterly incapable of understanding, let alone countering, the unleashed fury of a group like ISIS.