The sound is deafening. Knees are jerking all over the country. Some are jerking, because Obama’s plan to combat ISIS is doing too much. The rest are jerking, because Obama’s plan to combat ISIS is doing too little. At such a time, what’s a knee to do? At least for now, my knee is going to wait. Here’s some analysis, the speech, a link to the transcript, and some commentary.
“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” ~President Obama
In a prime-time address to the nation (video below) President Obama laid out a plan to deal with the militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which currently has large portions of Iraq as well as parts of Syria – an area about the size of Maryland – under its control.
“So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”
President Obama made it clear that he would take this action, even inside Syria, and would be sending an additional 475 American service members to Iraq to support increased airstrikes. The President also called on congress to provide funding to train Syrian fighters, and continued humanitarian aid for those directly affected by ISIS.
ISIS or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) was formerly a major faction of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the same AQII we fought in Iraq post Saddam. However they were disavowed by Al-Qaeda central over actions in Syria, and the fact that they disobeyed orders to kill fewer civilians.
The brutality of ISIS dwarfs Al-Qaeda’s, with mass killings along the path as they take over more and more land, as well as the beheadings of kidnapped journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Their aim is to establish a caliphate (an ever expanding Islamic homeland under Sharia law) in Iraq and Syria. U.S. officials and experts believe they have immediate ambitions for Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel as well, an area referred to in the Arab world as the “Levant”, which is why the President refers to the terrorist group as ISIL and not ISIS. And regardless of quibbling over ISIS or ISIL, one point the President made deconstructed the notion that ISIS/ISIL deserves to be called either “Islamic” or a “State”, pointing out that the terrorist group is not truly Islamic, as no religion including Islam would condone their actions, and more often than not their victims are other Muslims. Nor are they truly a “State”, States have internationally recognized sovereignty, terrorist groups don’t, even if they do temporarily capture a lot of land.
In the most controversial portion of his speech, President Obama claimed (with echoes of George W. Bush declaring himself “the Decider” bouncing back from the distant walls of the canyons of modern history) that he has the authority to act alone, but then added that he welcomes the “support” of Congress. Implied was that if he didn’t get the support of Congress, he would proceed anyhow…
Inserted from <Liberals Unite>
Obviously Republicans are screaming for all out war, and that is the worst possible approach. It’s exactly what ISIS wants. On the left many are saying Obama is no different from Bush. I take issue with them too. For starters, Obama is not trying to lie us into combat the way Bush did. He has not even claimed that ISIS is an immediate threat to the US. Instead he claims that, unless they are stopped now, they could become a threat to the US, an accurate evaluation. Also under Bush, participation by foreign troops was minimal, with the US and Brits carrying the brunt of the combat load. Obama minimizes exposure to combat for US personnel. Those are huge differences.
Here is the speech in it’s entirety.
And for a complete transcript, click here.
The problem with what Obama had to say is that it’s incomplete. There’s still much to much that we do not know. At this point, I consider it more of an introduction. As for Congress, they do have the prerogative to act, but have so far shown no more inclination to do anything more that duck their own responsibility. Obama is claiming authority under the 2001 AUMF, but Congress may cancel that, if they so choose. I expect posturing, whining, accusations, and little more.
The most constructive view I have seen to date came in a discussion between Rachel Maddow and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
For now, I’m going to wait and see what develops. But I will say one thing. With ISIS beheading Americans, failure to take some action is the fastest way to ensure political defeat.