Americans overwhelmingly are in favor of a re-escalation of the war in Iraq. This is part of their view of Constitutional government, which can be summarized as follows. “Bomb them wogs!”
A Washington Post-ABC News poll this week showed that Americans overwhelmingly view the Islamic State as a serious threat to vital U.S. interests and, in a significant shift, widely support airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Seventy-one percent of all Americans say they support airstrikes in Iraq, and 65 percent support strikes in Syria. That is more than double the level of support a year ago for launching airstrikes to punish the Syrian regime.
Will Congress challenge this? No.
Several prominent Republicans, including Sen. Robert Portman (Ohio), said they believe that Obama can launch airstrikes to combat the militants in both Iraq and Syria without seeking a congressional vote.
“The president has authorization to act now,” Portman said in a phone interview Tuesday, adding that he remained “a little confused” about an administration strategy that has been slow to develop.
“We are ‘leading from behind,’ to use the president’s words,” he said. “By not leading, we are making it more difficult and more costly.”
Making what more difficult and more costly?
Once again, the voters, who had never heard of ISIS (aka ISIL) two months ago, are ready to bomb them into the stone age . . . or at least into 2003.
Shock and awe. This did not work in 2003. Maybe it will work now. Hope springs eternal.
We need another public opinion poll. “Where did ISIS come from?” Don’t ask. “Who is funding them?” Does it matter? “What do they believe?” Who cares? “What is their connection to Syria?” What’s Syria? “What should be done about them?” Shock and awe!
All it takes are some headlines about the threat to America, and the voters are ready to drop bombs.
Bombs will be dropped. Obama is not saying when or on whom. He is only saying this: he does not need the formal approval of Congress.
President Obama is prepared to use U.S. military airstrikes in Syria as part of an expanded campaign to defeat the Islamic State and does not believe he needs formal congressional approval to take that action, according to people who have spoken with the president in recent days.
President Obama is now discussing matters with members of the Council on Foreign Relations, always referred to as “bipartisan foreign policy experts.”
Obama discussed his plans at a dinner with a bipartisan group of foreign policy experts this week at the White House and made clear his belief that he has the authority to attack the militant Islamist group on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border to protect U.S national security, multiple people who participated in the discussion said. The move to attack in Syria would represent a remarkable escalation in strategy for Obama, who has sought during his presidency to reduce the U.S. military engagement in the Middle East.
Why now? Because the White House is losing influence. This is a serious threat to a lame-duck President. It’s turning into lame duck dynasty.
Obama’s dinner with the foreign policy experts — a gathering that included former high-ranking officials in Republican administrations, including Richard Haass and Stephen Hadley — was part of an intensive White House effort in recent months to expand its sphere of influence. Although the president has on a semi-regular basis invited in outside experts for conversations, the White House has shifted its tone amid a series of high-profile foreign policy crises, including Russia’s intervention in eastern Ukraine, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza and the advance of the Islamic State deep into Iraq.
In private conversations, senior White House national security aides have expressed greater willingness to hear new ideas and solicit input in hopes of doing a better job of developing strategy and communicating it to the public, said several influential foreign policy experts who have talked with Obama advisers in recent months.
This is year six of the Obama Administration. Now he is willing to listen to the CFR? What is the evidence that he (0r any other President since FDR) ever stopped listening? I am unaware of such evidence.
What of the 12 U.S. military bases in Iraq? Remember them? (1) Why are they there? (2) Why haven’t they been attacked by ISIS? No one ever mentions this. Here is a shattered former nation — shattered by U.S. troops — in which the U.S. government has permanent — read “forever” — commitments. If there is a threat to the homeland United States from ISIS, why has ISIS avoided attacking these bases?
How will these bases be defended against ISIS, assuming that ISIS ever bothers with them?
But if ISIS couldn’t care less about 12 military bases in Iraq, then why should it care about the U.S. homeland? What can it do about the U.S. homeland?
But if the U.S. homeland is not at risk, why do most Americans want Obama to bomb ISIS?
What do the bipartisan experts think? It’s all a bit vague — it always is — but this is clear: they think we are there for the long haul, i.e., forever. “The job has just begun.” Keep this phrase in mind. Pass it down to your children. They can pass it down to their children.
Jon B. Alterman, who directs the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the real challenge Obama faces is not articulating his approach but executing it and brokering the political deals that will underpin any military strike.
“The problem is policy follow-through,” Alterman said, adding that the danger of leading with “a military operation is you start thinking the job is done, when the job has just begun. What the U.S. strategy is trying to do is deny haven to [the Islamic State], and doing it in Iraq with a government that is chaotic at best will take some time. Doing it in Syria is going to be even harder.”
Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger, who served as President Bill Clinton’s national security adviser and attended Monday’s dinner, said Obama “has his arms around this” and is prepared to “lay out a comprehensive strategy to deal with ISIS long-term.”
Harman described the dinner Monday as “focused and thoughtful.” Over a dinner of D’Anjou pear salad and Chilean sea bass, Obama, Vice President Biden and the outside experts engaged in a deep discussion of the options to combat the Islamic State, those who participated said.
They are not shocked. They are not awed. This means that taxpayers are in this for the long haul.
Republicans in Congress plan to lead from behind.
Don’t be shocked. Don’t be awed. Just get out your checkbooks. This is forever . . . or until the U.S. government defaults.