President Obama gave a good speech outlining his strategy on ISIS, but we must be careful moving forward
Today is the 13th anniversary of 9/11. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long already, but we all remember it and the war drums that started beating shortly thereafter. Yesterday night felt a little like a deja-vu, only this time Al Qaeda has been replaced by ISIS as the greatest terrorist threat to America.
President Obama gave a 15 minute speech last night outlining a broad four point strategic plan for dealing with ISIS, the militant group that executed American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria.
ISIS has been malicious and barbaric in expanding their own interests. President Obama did not hesitate in stating that he plans to degrade and destroy them. “If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven. We will hunt down terrorists wherever they are, including the United States.” I personally have never seen President Obama seem so angry, yet reluctant about his strategy.
Obama did not tell us much we didn’t expect, other than saying “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq” meaning he is open (but not yet dedicated to) bombing ISIS targets in Syria.
“We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq, anytime we take military action, there are risks involved, especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions,” the President acknowledged, adding that this effort “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” It appears bombs are the order of the day once again.
His four main strategic points for crushing ISIS:
More Airstrikes: Originally, airstrikes were carried out to protect Iraqi civilians and for humanitarian aid. Now, Massive coordinated air strikes against ISIS with the help of Iraqi troops on ground will be used as part of a broader effort to “roll back” ISIS in Iraq.
Strengthening Troops and Training: 475 additional U.S. “service personnel” will be sent to Iraq to train the Iraqi security forces and provide intelligence.
Preventing Terrorism: The U.S. will draw on a range of counter-terrorism tactics to prevent attacks on the homeland, including cutting off its funding and improving American intelligence. It will also take steps to counter ISIS’ “warped” ideology.
“Let’s make two things clear, ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, ISIS is a terrorist organization, pure and simple.” The U.S. will work to “stem the flow of foreign fighters” traveling to and from the region, President Obama promised.
Protecting Civilians: “In the interest of protecting ancient communities, such as Iraqi Christians, the United States’ humanitarian efforts will continue”, Obama said. “We continue to face a terrorist threat, we can’t erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge. At this moment, the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain.”
Secured bipartisan support at home is necessary. Although the President claims he has the authority to act alone, it is better to act with Congress to show the U.S. is a united front.
In two weeks, President Obama will Chair the National Security Council at the UN. Is China and Russia going to go along with this? This is an extremely important meeting that could go any which way. This strategy depends on the effectiveness of our allies, most of which are western. It is important that other Islamic countries get onboard.
President Obama’s ISIS speech was really the opening salvo in a fight that could take years. The American public is so far behind the President, but that can change quickly, just like the war on ISIS can escalate rapidly depending on events on the ground.
As Bernie Sanders mentioned following the President’s speech, the situation is complicated. A couple downed American fighter jets could lead to a couple captured soldiers and their probable public execution.
Next thing you know, Americans are calling for more and more troops on the ground. Suddenly the US is trapped in another Vietnam type situation where repeated escalation leads to disaster. This scenario might seem far-fetched right now, but things can change awfully fast. We must be careful.