Didn’t have time to listen to Obama outline his plans for a major new US war in the Middle East? Here are the top five take-aways from the September 10 speech:
1) Obama officially adopts Bush Administration’s pre-emptive war doctrine.
If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States. ..we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland…
We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.
2) Obama hails regime change in Iraq as begining of new era. There is an “inclusive” government Obama can work with, he claims. But the “new” government is chock full of holdovers from the old one and is actually less inclusive because the Kurds are refusing to take their seats despite great US pressure and there are actually less, not more, Sunnis than under “bad, non-inclusive” Maliki.
3) New kind of warfare will defeat enemies with no risk to us. Obama will defeat ISIS but will do so in a new kind of warfare that will not require fighting and dying on our side, only on their side. Air strikes and drones will do the trick and not an American troop on the ground. Except that there are already some 1,000 American troops on the ground and the idea that an air war is a surgical strike that only takes out “bad guys” is a myth that should be abandoned on the graves of thousands of Afghani and Pakistani and Yemeni, etc. civilians. Death by drone is no less horrific than death by beheading.
4) Obama pledges to do more of the same but promises different results. After three years of training and arming the “moderate” opposition, the US has only nurtured the rise of an ISIS well-trained and armed with US weapons. Thousands of “moderates” trained by the US have joined ISIS. His solution, strangely enough, is to accelerate this program.
5) Obama declares war on Syria. Despite demanding that Russia respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and stop meddling in Ukrainian affairs, President Obama tonight announced that he would disregard the territorial sovereignty of Syria and would begin bombing Syrian territory whenever he decides to do so. No UN Security Council resolution needed. No international law.
And bonus point:
6) Congress? Don’t make me laugh! Obama announced that while he welcomes Congressional support for his actions, he has no interest in Congress carrying out its Constitutional role as a separate and equal power in declaring war against those he seeks to bomb. This is the imperial presidency on steroids. One can imagine Kim Jong-un making the same speech: “I welcome the agreement of the Supreme People’s Assembly for my five year plan.”
I am on Twitter.1:17 am on September 11, 2014 Email Daniel McAdams