--President Obama commits 300 Military Advisers to fight ISIS in Iraq
Facing an American public who has lost confidence in his ability to lead (54% disapprove of his leadership abroad) and not wanting to see Iraq fall "On his watch," President Obama sought, in a press conference today (around noon CST), to get back in the game and prevent “ISIS,” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria from continuing it’s success in taking territory across Syria and into Iraq-- and then marching within 40 miles, or so, of Baghdad, and perhaps even grabbing control of Iraq's largest oil refinery in Beiji .
Obama committed today to sending into Iraq 300 U. S. “military advisers.” These are Special Forces, that is, Green Beret, Rangers or Seals. These are the kinds of advisers who can help the Iraqi military make best use of their own soldiers to defend Iraq and go on the offensive against ISIS.
--Much needed Intel and possibly U.S. air power being provided to Iraq
The Special Forces can also provide Intelligence to both Iraq and the U. S., which will be vital to over-all strategic planning of further military action. Moreover, the President did not rule out U. S. air power. Right now, ISIS is almost unfettered in moving convoys toward Baghdad. Increased Iraqi and U.S. air power could dramatically slow down, if not, destroy these convoys.
U. S. air power would include U. S. drones and perhaps limited U. S. bombers. The Iraqi Air Force capability is quite limited. However, crucial in the exercise of U.S. or Iraqi air power is intelligence and spotters/controllers on the ground—and these capabilities are included within the 300 U.S. military “Advisers,” being sent to Iraq. Key to the effective use of air power is Intel to avoid killing innocent civilians (which can create more enemies than you kill) and to hit the most important military targets.
--How to stabilize Iraq: Unified Iraqi political leadership?
The President, in his press conference, focused on doing what the U. S. could, without sending in combat troops, to stabilize Iraq. President Obama noted that the U. S. would not take religious sides and that it does not control who leads Iraq- that country has had democratic elections for that.
But, the President made clear that to be successful, Iraq needs leadership that unifies the country’s three major religious groupings. Thus, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki probably got the message that if he wants to keep getting even this limited U. S. military assistance, he will have to do much more to incorporate Sunnis (20%) and Kurds (20%) into the dominant Shia (60%) political power within his governing structure. Alternatively, other Iraqi leaders who seek to be “Unifiers,” may be able to topple Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in one way or the other.
President Obama made clear today that his policy in Iraq is guided by U. S. National Security interests. Although he spoke out against the Iraq War almost a dozen years ago in a firey, October, 2002 speech at the Federal Plaza in Chicago against “A dumb war,” and on the “Public Affairs w/Jeff Berkowitz,” TV show on November 25, 2002 (where, Obama said, long before the March, 2003 invasion of Iraq, that he would have voted against the congressional resolution giving President Bush the authorization to take military action in Iraq), then IL State Senator Barack Obama also told this reporter, in mid-2003 when he was running for the U. S. Senate, and then repeated frequently in his U. S. Senate Democratic Primary campaign that “We have to be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in.”
Obama: U. S. National Security Interests in the Middle East
The President spoke this afternoon of the importance of having a foreign policy that is always guided by U. S. national security interests. He did not spell these out, but while opposing sending combat troops back into Iraq, he also reminded the media at the presser that he had wanted to leave a “modest,” residual military force in Iraq.
The President went on to discuss the fact that the U. S. had been unable to work out the details of a residual force with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It is evident that the President disagrees with many in his own Democratic party, including his own liberal base, in that he continues to see a U. S. national interest in helping to preserve a stable Iraq.
Obama: Opposing a modern day Caliphate?
Further, many opinion makers have noted that ISIS speaks openly of establishing a modern day Caliphate, that is a sovereign state of the entire Muslim faithful ruled by a single caliph under the Constitution of Medina and Islamic law (Sharia).
ISIS may be dreaming, but if it could take control of Baghdad, aside from having a major training ground for terrorists that would threaten the United States, ISIS would then seek to march on and take control of at least portions of U. S. ally countries, e.g., Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Without discussing a Caliphate, it is clear that some of these concerns for our allies and for protecting the U. S. from Islamic terrorists are within the President’s world view that requires “Being careful getting out of Iraq.”
Finally, for an interesting perspective on President Obama's early plans for his Presidency, you may want to go here to watch his announcement of his run for President at the Old Capitol Building in Springfield, IL on February 10, 2007.
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