White House Passing the Buck to Biden to Deal with Iraq Crisis
As Ukrainian protesters rallied against the Kremlin-backed government, were killed by government forces and weathered a subsequent Russian invasion, President Obama left it up to Vice President Joe Biden to directly communicate with the Ukrainian government.
Obama even went so far as a skip a national security meeting on the Russian invasion at the beginning of March, which Biden joined via teleconference.
Now, it appears that foreign policy methodology is playing out again in Iraq.
Last night, the White House announced that Biden had jumped on the phone with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan "regarding the security situation around Mosul, Iraq, where elements of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have taken over significant portions of the city, seized the Turkish consulate, and taken Turkish personnel -- including the Consul General and family members -- hostage."
"The Vice President underscored the United States condemns the actions taken by ISIL, calls for the safe and immediate return of the Turkish personnel and family members, and supports efforts by Iraqi national and Kurdish security forces to work together to combat the ISIL threat," said the readout from the White House. "The Vice President told Prime Minister Erdogan that the United States is prepared to support Turkey’s efforts to bring about the safe return of its citizens and will stay in close touch with the Turkish and Iraqi governments regarding a resolution to the security situation."
Obama met with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in the morning and honored the WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx in the afternoon.
This afternoon, the White House released a readout of Biden's call with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
"The Vice President expressed the United States’ solidarity with Iraq in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Prime Minister discussed Iraq’s current security situation, and the Vice President made clear that the United States is prepared to continue to intensify and accelerate security support and cooperation with Iraq, under the Strategic Framework Agreement, to confront the urgent and growing threat posed by ISIL," the administration said. "The Vice President underscored that it will be critically important for all of Iraq’s communities to reach a lasting political accommodation and to be united in order to defeat their common enemy, ISIL."
Obama only addressed Iraq when asked a question at a joint appearance with Abbott.
"What we've seen over the last couple of days indicates the degree to which Iraq is going to need more help. It's going to need more help from us, and it's going to need more help from the international community," Obama said.
"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," he said. "Part of the challenge -- and I've said this directly to Prime Minister Maliki, and Vice President Biden has said this in his very frequent interactions with the Iraqi government -- is that the politics of Shia and Sunni inside of Iraq, as well as the Kurds, is either going to be a help in dealing with this jihadist situation, or it's going to be a hindrance."
White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked at today's briefing about Biden taking the lead role in trying to get some sort of force agreement in Iraq before the pullout.
"Vice President Biden has continued to be one of the principal interlocutors of the administration with Iraqi leaders," Carney said. "He has a long history in Iraq with all of the political groups there and with the leaders there. And that -- and that hasn't changed. And certainly in recent months, the vice president has been actively engaged in discussions with the Iraqi leadership."