Obama Fourth President in a Row to Go on Prime-Time TV to Announce Bombing of Iraq

Monday, September 15, 2014

Presidential traditions can be great. There’s nothing like seeing happy children at the annual Easter Egg Roll or the goofy looks the leader of the world’s most powerful nation gets when pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey. But there’s one tradition that President Barack Obama has continued that he probably should have discontinued: announcing a bombing campaign in Iraq, and possibly Syria, to try to defeat ISIS, which has taken over significant territory in those countries.


Obama is the fourth president in a row to go on television and tell his fellow Americans that the skies over Iraq will soon be filled with U.S. warplanes laden with enough ordnance to turn some village into kindling.


This announcement was different though. Obama was somewhat vague on the details of how this campaign would work, according to Philip Gourevitch in The New Yorker. There was some talk about consulting with Congress, although Obama claimed he already had the authorization he needed. Also mentioned was the need for a coalition, but there was no mention of who that would include.


Also left unsaid was any thought that by bombing Iraq, we might cause more chaos in that part of the world. Nat Perry points out “eight years ago, the same intelligence community that Obama is now citing in providing justification for expanded strikes on Iraq had starkly warned that a whole new generation of Islamic radicalism had been spawned by the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. The 2006 intelligence estimate, representing the consensus view of the 16 spy services inside government, said ‘the Iraq war has made the overall terrorism problem worse,’ according to one American intelligence official.”


Certainly the examples Obama used of “success” in military interventions, campaigns in Yemen and Somalia, haven’t resulted in clear victories. And Libya, which the U.S. bombed in 2011, has not become a stable nation; rather it has turned into near anarchy with its parliament being forced to hide out in a Greek car ferry tied to a dock in Tobruk.


Obama even admitted that bombing alone will not defeat ISIS. For that, we’ll need the help of ground troops from Iraq and “moderate” Syrian rebels. But will even that be enough? Iraqi troops, which outnumbered ISIS forces, ran rather than fight the militants. And more violence is likely to mean that after 2016, another U.S. President is likely to continue this newest White House tradition.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

What Obama Didn’t Say (by Philip Gourevitch, New Yorker)

The U.S.’s Benevolent Bombing Of Iraq And The Terror That It Spawns (by Nat Parry, Essential Opinion)

Colbert in Iraq (AllGov)

U.S. Combat in Iraq is Over…Except for the Air Strikes and Deaths (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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