As a Russian “humanitarian” convoy readies to launch itself at the Ukraine under Moscow’s version of the “responsibility to protect”, the Washington Post describes how Obama decided to help the Kurds after he was assured ISIS was meeting the legal requirements for genocide.

(Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Monday Russia is sending an aid convoy to eastern Ukraine despite urgent Western warnings against using humanitarian help as a pretext for an invasion.

With Ukraine reporting Russia has massed 45,000 troops on its border, NATO said there was a “high probability” that Moscow could intervene militarily in the country’s east, where Kiev’s forces are closing in on pro-Russian separatists.

I used to think that either of two events might trigger a serious effort to impeach the president: an invasion of Ukraine or an invasion of Taiwan. But now I doubt that even both together would pull him off the golf links. What might coax him from his pastoral settings is a legal document. The president seems to be one of those individuals who regard words on paper as the ultimate reality.

Just after 10 a.m., Obama met with advisers for 90 minutes in the White House Situation Room.

What was happening to the Yazidis, they concluded, was potential genocide under the legal definition of targeting an entire ethnic or religious group for extinction. In briefings from intelligence and State Department officials, “there were stories of mass executions, reports from the mountain of people dying potentially of thirst,” the official said. “Women being essentially enslaved.”

Ding. Ding. There was apparently a winner.  The joint power of those pushbutton words, “ethnic”, “women” and especially “enslaved” was hard to resist.

By the end of the session, Obama had made his airstrike decision, and discussion turned to how it would be shared with Congress and announced to the American people. “The president was very clear that he wanted to continue to have limiting principles on our engagement,” the official said. “He would not be putting U.S. combat forces back on the ground. . . . He did not want to create a slippery slope. He wanted to identify clear objectives that are in our national interest, in support of our strategy in Iraq, but don’t lead us in a direction that we don’t want to go.”

It is not that humanitarian considerations are trivial or not good enough. But strategy can be important too. The president can read a legal document, but ISIS can read a map.

The Institute for the Study of War Syria Updates says ISIS is mopping up pockets of resistance as it consolidates its new northern front. It is preparing to create the Caliphate.

ISIS is eradicating pockets of resistance that fall within the territory ISIS seeks to claim for its Caliphate, including the Iraqi city of Sinjar near the border in Ninewa province. … Significantly, these operations have proceeded in tandem with a campaign to remove internal threats to the Caliphate posed by isolated Syrian regime bases in ar-Raqqa province, and it appears ISIS is quickly moving toward a successful consolidation and hardening of its exterior borders in Northern Syria….

In order to achieve its goal of establishing a functional, viable state ISIS must continue to leverage its military capabilities to consolidate its interior lines across Iraq and Syria and form a set of identifiable and defensible borders. Eliminating interior vulnerabilities is a key component of this effort and is likely to remain a primary objective for the ISIS military campaign in ensuing weeks. The victories in ar-Raqqa, Hasaka, and Ninewa suggests that ISIS operational objectives prioritize setting the stage for the consolidation of control over logistical lines of communication from the Iraqi border and the current operational zone in southern Hasaka to strongholds in ar-Raqqa province in order to secure freedom of movement between currently separate systems. As continued military successes from increasingly unified theatres of operation fuel the ISIS war machine, a hardened ISIS exterior line is likely to allow ISIS forces to pursue further expansion.

The New Caliphate's Northern Border

The New Caliphate’s Northern Border

In the end Obama will have his piece of paper and ISIS will have its borders. And Kurdistan will be in the wind. For the map shows that Kurdistan is landlocked and will be unlikely to survive as a viable entity if surrounded on all sides by hostiles.

I say old chap. D'ya think we're to be genocided then?

I say old chap. D’ya think we’re to be genocided then? Legally, I mean …

The image of the lawyerly Obama parsing words is extremely disturbing. “Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell said the current strategy being carried out by the Obama administration is ‘not going to destroy’ ISIS.” He notes that the administration strategy is to apply band aids.

“The goal in the short-term is to keep the ISIS fighters from taking over Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan in the north and to free the religious group that has been trapped in the mountains there. That seems to be working. But what is going to take a lot more work, Charlie, is to actually degrade the group and to destroy the group. What we’re doing right now is not going to do that,” Morell said.

Rose then asked what it would require to destroy the group.

“I think two things,” Morell responded. “One, it’s going to require us with our capabilities to take out the leadership of the group while the Iraqi army and the Kurdish army, fights on the ground against these guys. That latter piece is going to take a political agreement in Baghdad, which we see this morning is even more difficult to get.”

Saving the situation would, in other words, require altering the situation on the ground. Any damn fool can see that. What is frightening is that a former CIA deputy director has to point out the obvious. But the president, besides being a lawyer, may need the someone to paint him a picture.

He also appears to believe in the leech theory of diplomacy by which he can achieve negotiated solutions by bleeding one party until their strengths are equalized. Then peace comes. For example, the Jerusalem Post’s Gil Hoffman looks at Obama’s recent New York Times interview in which the president appeared to conclude that Israel was too strong to make peace.

Netanyahu’s “poll numbers are a lot higher than mine” and “were greatly boosted by the war in Gaza,” Obama told the newspaper. “And so if he doesn’t feel some internal pressure, then it’s hard to see him being able to make some very difficult compromises, including taking on the settler movement. That’s a tough thing to do.”

Obama then contrasted Israeli politics with the internal politics in the PA, where there has not been a presidential election since January 2005.

“With respect to Abu Mazen [Abbas], it’s a slightly different problem,” he said. In some ways, Bibi [Netanyahu] is too strong [and] in some ways Abu Mazen is too weak to bring them together and make the kinds of bold decisions that Sadat or Begin or Rabin were willing to make. It’s going to require leadership among both the Palestinians and the Israelis to look beyond tomorrow….

And that’s the hardest thing for politicians to do is to take the long view on things.”

So why not make Israel weaker? James Kirchick, writing in the National Review says “Pity America’s Friends”. Pity anyone who’s about to get the treatment from Barack Hussein Obama, Juris Doctor. Taking “the long view on things” is apparently his way of rationalizing otherwise absurd decisions. It will work out in the long view.

But people live in the short run. Much of the world is on shorter rations than the people vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard. Did you know that when Liberia lost 3 physicians to Ebola it lost 2.5 percent of all the doctors in the country? There are 120 doctors in all of Liberia. The equivalent impact on the United States would be the death of 21,000 doctors in a single outbreak. The Kurds, Yazidis and Christians in the region may lead a lousy life, but it’s the only one they’ve got.

The view from a piece of legalistic paper on one of Obama’s breaks sometimes different from that on the ground.  Fore!

Update:

Robin Williams is dead by suicide and the Russian humanitarian/invasion(?) column has now started to roll towards Ukraine.


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