google.com, pub-6663105814926378, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Obama takes the fight to ISIS in Syria 4289

Obama takes the fight to ISIS in Syria

The U.S. and several Arab allies launched airstrikes against Sunni jihadists in Syria for the first time this week, killing scores of fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the separate al Qaida–linked group Khorasan in what President Obama and Pentagon officials said was the opening phase of a campaign lasting years. U.S. drones and fighter jets—including stealth F-22s—led warplanes from regional allies including Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, in bombing ISIS training camps, arms depots, and command and control centers in the militants’ capital of Raqqa and along the Iraq border. “You are seeing the beginnings of a sustained campaign,” said Lt. Gen. William Mayville, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Firing dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles, U.S. warships in the Mediterranean launched a simultaneous attack on targets in northwestern Syria linked to the Khorasan group, which Mayville said was nearing “the execution phase of an attack” in Europe or the U.S. Intelligence officials said they believed the group—consisting of dozens of hard-core al Qaida veterans from Pakistan and Afghanistan—was plotting to blow up passenger planes using hard-to-detect bombs hidden in toothpaste tubes or with clothes dipped in explosives. “It must be clear,” said Obama, “that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people.”

Obama has overstepped his constitutional authority in launching “a widening war” in Syria, said The New York Times. The president claims to have good security reasons for unilaterally ordering a sustained military action against ISIS and Khorasan, but “his assertions have not been tested or examined by the people’s representatives in Congress.” Given that there’s been no public discussion of this war or “a coherent plan” for fighting it from the air, “the strikes in Syria were a bad decision.”



It’s true that airstrikes alone won’t defeat ISIS, said The Wall Street Journal. “The terrorists will now adapt by dispersing and perhaps blending into civilian areas.” That’s why destroying ISIS, Obama’s stated goal, will require U.S. ground forces to gather intelligence and help coordinate the Iraqi army, the Kurdish peshmerga, and Syrian rebels in the battle against ISIS fighters. The longer Obama refuses to approve such ground operations, the longer the mission of defeating ISIS will take.

Obama’s airstrikes-only approach “may be more effective than people expect,” said Fred Kaplan in Slate.com. The Syrian strikes are intended to help our allies on the ground by denying ISIS a secure rear, where it can store weapons and train fighters. A similar strategy worked during the 2007 Iraq War “surge,” when U.S. troops reduced violence in Baghdad by attacking areas around the city that insurgents used as gathering points and bomb-making factories. The president also deserves a lot of credit for persuading Arab nations to join this fight, said Jeffrey Goldberg in TheAtlantic.com. Like Obama, these nations’ leaders have reluctantly concluded “it would be insane for the civilized world to allow the barbarians of ISIS to overspread the Middle East.”

The mission creep continues, said Daniel Larison in TheAmerican Conservative.com. When airstrikes began in Iraq last month, “the administration initially said that ‘a sustained  campaign’ is exactly what the U.S. was not starting.” Yet just a few weeks later, we’re told that the country is now at war in two Middle East nations and probably will be for years. Whatever happened to the president who promised to pull America back from “a perpetual war footing”?

He was mugged by reality, said Michael Hirsh in Politico.com. The swift, horrifying rise of ISIS, combined with polls showing that just 34 percent of Americans approve of his foreign policy, forced Obama “to radically re-evaluate his presidency.” He realized he had no choice but to go from “being the president who was elected to end wars—his most treasured self-image—to the president who finally leads one effectively.” Obama is now “a war president,” and his legacy will heavily depend on whether he proves to be good one.

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