In a much anticipated speech, Obama says what America will do to fight ISIS
On Sept. 10, President Obama delivered an address on the state floor of the White House outlining U.S. strategy on how America will fight the Islamic State. The speech is long overdue. Mr. Obama has come under harsh criticism since two weeks ago in a previous address in which he said the United States in fact had no strategy to fight the Islamist group.
“We took out Osama bin Landen and much of al- Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Obama reminded us. “We’ve targeted al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia,” he added. “We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end late,” Mr. Obama said.
In language reminiscent of the previous administration, the president said “our objective is clear, we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”
In the president’s speech, Obama outlined four principle ways his administration will use American military, intelligence and diplomatic resources to fight the Islamic State.
Apart from special forces units, advisers and security personnel, fighter craft, drones and other aerial resources will be the only military forces deployed to northern Iraq and Syria. President Obama reiterated his promise that America will not deploy soldiers to the Mideast. Supporting the Kurdish peshmerga and bolstering the Iraqi government seem to be the extent of the strategy.
First, the United States will do what it can to support and keep the Iraqi government alive.
“Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense. Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presi- dency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven,” President Obama said.
Second, America will increase military supplies and aid to Kurdish peshmerga forces fighting the Islamic State on the ground.
“As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission, we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq. But they are needed to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment. We’ll also support Iraq’s efforts to stand up National Guard Units to help Sunni communities secure their own freedom from ISIL’s control,” Obama said.
The president also said that America will increase military aid to anti-Assad forces in Syria. “Tonight,” Mr. Obama said, “I call on Congress again to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.”
“In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its own people — a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.”
The third part of the strategy will involve a substantial increase in intelligence and counter-terrorism activity to hit the resources, financing, and arms flow sustaining the Islamic State.
“Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding; improve our intelligence; strengthen our defenses; counter its warped ideology; and stem the flow of for- eign fighters into and out of the Middle East,” Mr. Obama said.
Lastly, the United States will increase humanitarian relief to the victims of genocide and ethnic and religious cleansing by the Islamic State.
“This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other reli- gious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands,” Obama said.
After listening to this, if we think back to the anti-Stalinist speeches of JFK and Reagan, for example, does American foreign policy finally seem to be on the right side of history again with Barack Obama? Some commentators think so but that sentiment is foolish.
Obama has consistently denied that the Islamic State has anything to do with Islam. Western leaders have maintained this fantasy for years about radical Jihadism. Until Obama and the West understand – as the Kurds do – that the Islamic State is a creation of Wahhabi Islam and stop treating Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who prop it up as our allies, if the West cannot marshal the energies to battle this enemy ideologically, then Obama’s ‘strategy’ has already failed.