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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bombing, Staying, Leaving -- Still Lambs On the Mountain?

I get mixed messages in the news about American involvement in Iraq. Does anyone else see the painful lack of a workable plan to deal with Iraq and the ISIS terrorists? When you read the news, you can't help but wonder just how far the new American commitment will go. How deep and how broad is this administration willing to re-enter Iraq and pull strings to interfere?

Mixed Message #1

* President Obama announced Thursday that U.S.-led airstrikes have broken the siege by Islamic militants against religious minorities who were trapped on a mountain in northern Iraq.

But ...

Officials said there were about 4,500 Yazidis left on the mountain, and that half were herders who want to stay. Though it's not clear whether they are out of danger, Obama said he does not expect the U.S. to launch an evacuation operation. "The situation remains dire for Iraqis subject to ISIS' terror throughout the country," Obama said.

 Mixed Message #2

* The President reiterated that this would not commit "combat troops on the ground."

But ...

While green-lighting additional airstrikes, he said the U.S. also has increased military "assistance" to Iraqi and Kurdish forces, and he made clear the U.S. " mission in the region" is not over yet. 

Mixed Message #3

* Airstrikes will continue as needed, and the 130 U.S. troops sent earlier this week as an assessment team are now likely to return to their home bases.

But ...

A humanitarian airdrop that took place on Wednesday "could very well be the last one," according to the administration. The U.S. team that assessed the situation in the Sinjar Mountains found many pallets of unopened food and water.

Mixed Message #4

* Obama insists, "The only lasting solution is for the Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqi citizens." Obama said he called al-Abadi to express his support.

"We are urging Iraqis to come together to turn the tide against (ISIS) above all by seizing the enormous opportunity of forming a new inclusive government under the leadership of prime minister designate Abadi," the President said.

But ... 

Former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has refused to step down after Haider al-Abadi was nominated to replace him.

In a televised address Wednesday, he called the move to appoint al-Abadi a constitutional violation.

Al-Maliki filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop the formation of a new government, and said he wouldn't step down until the court has ruled.

Let's Summarize

The situation in Iraq was dire and still is. We bombed ISIS, a group that threatened to kill helpless civilians, and we gave the refugees humanitarian support. Yet, we left about 4,500 Yazidis on the mountain? Was our mission accomplished?

We claim that airstrikes will continue as needed, but we stopped the humanitarian support of food, water, and safe passage? Is our intent to kill as many ISIS insurgents as possible or to help Iraqi people survive and eventually flee to safety?

President Obama has been very definite that the U.S. will not put our troops back on the ground in Iraq. Yet, what about the danger to assessment teams, military advisers, and our staff at the U.S. Embassy? I wonder if the policy is to protect these Americans or continue to flirt with strong commitment by leaving them in harm's way.

Our government supported Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the formation of a new constitution in Iraq. But now, we're urging the Iraqui people to come together and back Haider al-Abadi. Now, al-Maliki won't step down. What will happen if "our will" is not imposed with Presidential posturing?

To top that, Iran endorsed Iraq’s prime minister designate Haider al-Abadi, striking a decisive blow against incumbent Nouri al-Maliki as a wide spectrum of domestic factions — and even his most loyal militia — also turned their backs on the country’s longtime leader. Not that al-Maliki isn't corrupt and preferential, but how do we share a "new bed" and new ideals with Iran, one of our most feared enemies?

The current actions taken by the United States government guarantee nothing. Americans mostly oppose direct U.S. military action to help the Iraqi government fight Islamic militants threatening to take control of that country. A June 20-21 Gallup poll finds 54% of Americans opposed to and 39% in favor of taking such action, lower than the level of support for other potential U.S. military actions in recent decades.

Of course, Americans are reluctant to support U.S. military action in Iraq, perhaps because of a desire not to get involved further in Iraq after the U.S. recently removed its troops from there. A majority still approve of the 2011 decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, and most continue to regard the 2003 invasion as "a mistake."

Let's open our eyes. Airstrikes are political moves that are a lot more antiseptic than putting ground troops in harm’s way, and a lot more practical in terms of logistics and timing. The strikes give Obama a chance to address concerns about the lack of action and direction from Washington these days. It is all basically about criticism for what the administration didn’t do in Libya.

"Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; 
all politics can do is keep us out of war."     

--Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952), Italian physician and educator

From "Monster" by Steppenwolf 

"We don't know how to mind our own business
'cause the whole world's got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who's the winner, we can't pay the cost
'Cause there's a monster on the loose
it's got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there, watching ..."

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