Now that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has taken Mosul and Tikrit and has set its sights on Baghdad, Barack Obama has responded with a strong statement – and in doing so, revealed the deep contradictions in and incoherence of his entire foreign policy.
3. U.S. troops in Iraq vs. no U.S. troops in Iraq
Obama declared Thursday: “Iraq’s gonna need more help. It’s gonna need more help from us, and it’s gonna need more help from the international community. So my team is working around the clock to identify how we can provide the most effective assistance to them. I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria, for that matter.”
Immediately after saying that he was not ruling out anything, however, Obama seemed to rule out U.S. military intervention in Iraq: “We’re not gonna be able to be everywhere all the time. But what we can do is to make sure that we are consistently helping to finance, train, advise military forces with partner countries, including Iraq, that have the capacity to maintain their own security.”
The great man then reminded us that this would not be an instant fix: “And that is a long and laborious process, but it’s one that we need to get started. That’s part of what the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund that I’m going to be calling for Congress to help finance is all about: giving us the capacity to extend our reach without sending U.S. troops to play whack-a-mole wherever there ends up being a problem in a particular country. That’s gonna be more effective, it’s gonna be more legitimate in the eyes of people in the region as well as the international community, but it’s going to take time to build it. In the short term, we have to deal with what clearly is an emergency situation in Iraq.”
So apparently the solution to the problem in Iraq would be the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund, but that would take a long time to develop, and in the meantime, we would have to deal with the emergency there, and he wasn’t ruling anything out to deal with that – except the use of U.S. troops, who can’t be everywhere. He thus deftly managed a complete non-elucidation of the question of whether he was actually ruling out direct military intervention in Iraq.