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.