In an interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick in January, President Obama dismissed ISIS as the “jayvee”:
The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.
Yesterday, with much of Iraq now in the jayvee’s hands, Obama finally recognized it as enough of a threat to warrant the authorization of U.S. military action. Sort of:
To stop the advance on Irbil, I directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move towards the city.
What is magic about Irbil? For one thing, many American diplomats and other U.S. nationals are there. In fact, the State Department relocated staffers from the embassy in Baghdad to the consulate in Irbil on the theory that the Kurds could keep the jayvee out. And then Obama ignored warnings from the Kurds that, without U.S. military supplies, they could not defend their territory.
To this conditional authorization of force, Obama added another conditional one. He authorized airstrikes “if necessary” to help Iraqi forces break the siege of Mount Sinjar.
Here, one assumes, Obama is being disingenuous. How else besides through U.S. military action might the jayvees’ siege of Mount Sinjar be broken. Diplomacy?
Speaking of diplomacy, Obama’s reliance on it is what permitted the situation in Iraq to deteriorate to its current state. Months ago, it became clear that the jayvee was on the march and would not be halted without substantial U.S. assistance.
But Obama conditioned such assistance on the overhaul of Iraq’s government and sought that overhaul through diplomacy. Naturally, Prime Minister Maliki liked his government just fine so, naturally, no overhaul occurred. And then the jayvee continued its bloody march.
Ironically, Obama ended up liking Maliki’s government well enough when it came time to decide whether to grant the Kurds’ request for weapons and ammunition. Obama turned them down on the theory that he didn’t want to bypass the central government – unreformed though it was. And then the jayvee overran the Kurdish border.
Assuming Obama deems his conditions for using force satisfied – and, objectively, they surely will be – the questions become how much force is needed and will Obama authorize that much force.
As to the first question, Fox News’ military expert, Ret. Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said last night that “pin prick” strikes won’t be enough. He called for round-the-clock sorties.
Other military experts, including active service commanders in Iraq, say that air power won’t be enough. Apparently, the jayvee, having seized all sorts of U.S. military equipment and grown significantly in number off of its successes, has become Kobe Bryant after all. As Army Lt. Gen. Mick Bednarek, U.S. chief of the Office of Security and Cooperation-Iraq, put it: “[ISIS] is an army, and it takes an army to defeat an army.”
Gen. Bednarek was talking about “neutralizing” ISIS, though. Obama, presumably recognizing what doing so would entail, described his objectives much more narrowly as protecting Ibril and ending the siege of Mount Sinjar. These objectives can, perhaps, be accomplished without an army, and conceivably even with pin point strikes.
But if this is all Obama accomplishes, he will have accomplished little. And pretty soon, the jayvee’s blitz will produce another crisis that will grab the attention of even our criminally inattentive president.
“Christianity in Mosul is dead, and a Christian holocaust is in our midst,” said Mark Arabo, a Californian businessman and Chaldean-American leader. In an interview with CNN’s Jonathan Mann, he called what’s happening in Iraq a “Christian genocide” and said “children are being beheaded, mothers are being raped and killed, and fathers are being hung.”
“Right now, three thousand Christians are in Iraq fleeing to neighboring cities,” he told Mann. Arabo is calling on the international community to follow France’s lead and offer the Christians of Iraq asylum.
“You’re startling me with the severity of what you’re describing,” the CNN host said. “You said they are – beheading children?”
“They are systematically beheading children,” Arabo repeated slowly. “And mothers and fathers. The world hasn’t seen an evil like this for generations.”
“There’s actually a park in Mosul where they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick… this is crimes against humanity. They are doing the most horrendous, the most heart-breaking crimes that you can think of.”
Mann asked about the ISIS letter sent to Christians in Mosul, demanding that they either convert to Islam, pay a fine or be put to “death by the sword.”
“It’s very clear they are killing people, but are Christians managing to escape by paying a fine?” he asked.
Arabo reports that after Christians pay the fine, the fighters take the Christian wives and children “and make them their wives – so it’s really convert, or die.”
This is a tweet that reportedly shows Yazidi children who escaped the fighters by fleeing to the mountains, but have died from lack of food and water there:
100 Retweets 13 favorites
A quick scan of Youtube shows the truth of what Arabo is saying – there are gruesome videos of heads on spikes, and many of live beheadings (one poor Christian is forced to say the Shahada ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet’ and then beheaded anyway.)
Warning: don’t google these things unless you have a strong stomach.
“They are absolutely killing every Christian they see,” Arabo said of ISIS. “This is absolutely a genocide in every sense of the word. They want everyone to convert, and they want sharia law to be the law of the land.”
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday the United States cannot use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq isn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there.
“Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now – where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife – which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.
Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said it’s likely there would be increased bloodshed if U.S. forces left Iraq.
“Nobody is proposing we leave precipitously. There are still going to be U.S. forces in the region that could intercede, with an international force, on an emergency basis,” Obama said between stops on the first of two days scheduled on the New Hampshire campaign trail. “There’s no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there.”
The greater risk is staying in Iraq, Obama said.
“It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.
The senator has been a fierce critic of the war in Iraq, speaking out against it even before he was elected to his post in 2004. He was among the senators who tried unsuccessfully earlier this week to force President Bush’s hand and begin to limit the role of U.S. forces there.
“We have not lost a military battle in Iraq. So when people say if we leave, we will lose, they’re asking the wrong question,” he said. “We cannot achieve a stable Iraq with a military. We could be fighting there for the next decade.”
Obama said the answer to Iraq – and other civil conflicts – lies in diplomacy.
“When you have civil conflict like this, military efforts and protective forces can play an important role, especially if they’re under an international mandate as opposed to simply a U.S. mandate. But you can’t solve the underlying problem at the end of a barrel of a gun,” he said. “There’s got to be a deliberate and constant diplomatic effort to get the various factions to recognize that they are better off arriving at a peaceful resolution of their conflicts.”
GOP: ‘Obama can’t seem to make up his mind’
The Republican National Committee accused Obama of changing his position on the war.
“Barack Obama can’t seem to make up his mind,” said Amber Wilkerson, an RNC spokeswoman. “First he says that a quick withdrawal from Iraq would be ’a slap in the face’ to the troops, and then he votes to cut funding for our soldiers who are still in harm’s way. Americans are looking for principled leadership – not a rookie politician who is pandering to the left wing of his party in an attempt to win an election.”
Obama, who has expressed reservations about capital punishment but does not oppose it, said he would support the death penalty for Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“The first thing I’d support is his capture, which is something this administration has proved incapable of achieving,” Obama said. “I would then, as president, order a trial that observed international standards of due process. At that point, do I think that somebody who killed 3,000 Americans qualifies as someone who has perpetrated heinous crimes, and would qualify for the death penalty. Then yes.”
Sex education for kindergartners?
In response to criticism from Republican Mitt Romney, Obama said the former Massachusetts governor was only trying to “score cheap political points” when he told a Colorado audience that Obama wanted sex education for kindergartners.
Video: Sex education for kindergarteners? “All I said was that I support the same laws that exist in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in which local communities and parents can make decisions to provide children with the information they need to deal with sexual predators,” Obama said.
Romney on Wednesday targeted Obama for supporting a bill during his term in the Illinois state Senate that would have, among other things, provided age-appropriate sex education for all students.
“How much sex education is age appropriate for a 5-year-old? In my mind, zero is the right number,” Romney said.
Obama said Romney was wrong to take the shot and incorrect on its basis.
“We have to deal with a coarsening of the culture and the over-sexualization of our young people. Look, I’ve got two daughters, 9 and 6 years old,” Obama told the AP. “Of course, part of the coarsening of that culture is when politicians try to demagogue issues to score cheap political points.”
“What we shouldn’t do is to try to play a political football with these issues and express them in ways that are honest and truthful,” Obama said. “Certainly, what we shouldn’t do is engage in hypocrisy.”
Romney himself once indicated support for similar programs that Obama supports.
In 2002, Romney told Planned Parenthood in a questionnaire that he also supported age-appropriate sex education. He checked yes to a question that asked: “Do you support the teaching of responsible, age-appropriate, factually accurate health and sexuality education, including information about both abstinence and contraception, in public schools?”