Yishai Schwartz offers up one, arguing that the president’s approach to ISIS has been perfectly coherent, and not just a reaction to the beheading videos or polls:
Obama began ramping up interventions in Iraq well before these murders, and he did so in response to substantive strategic realities. It was in mid-June that Islamic State militants routed the far larger and better-equipped units of the Iraqi army. Only days later, reports began to surface that President Obama had offered air strikes in support of the Iraqi military, but made them conditional on Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s resignation. On August 7, IS militants seized the crucial Mosul Dam.
The same day, profound humanitarian and strategic considerations forced President Obama to compromise somewhat on pressuring Maliki, as he authorized his first air strikes to protect the besieged Yezidi population and to bolster buckling Kurdish forces. Around the same time, the U.S. began to build the international coalition against IS that would emerge weeks later. On August 15, Maliki finally caved to international and internal pressure and stepped aside, and on August 17, American forces helped the Kurds retake the Mosul dam. All of this occurred well before the video of Foley’s murder went online.
This chain of events does not look like a sudden reversal after pressure from post-beheading opinion polls. It looks like a roadmap to war …
I guess you can take this to be reassuring – if you believe in a sustained, perpetual US war in Iraq (currently a war that has lasted from 1990 – 2014). Schwartz’s reading of the chronology is also problematic:
a steadily deteriorating strategic situation, an expressed American willingness to strike predicated on the meeting of a condition, the fulfilment of the condition …
But a clear-eyed assessment of the actual situation does not lead many to believe that IS was about to take over all of Iraq. If it were, do you think Turkey would be hanging back? In fact, its capture of Mosul may well have been its high watermark – unless Americanizing the war gives IS a new lease on life. Then “the meeting of a condition”. I think that refers to getting rid of Maliki. But that was not the condition. The condition was a unified, multi-sectarian government in Iraq – which was the point of the “surge” as well. It never happened under the surge – which is why it failed; and it hasn’t happened even as these loons have come close to Baghdad.
Today, the Iraqi parliament could not confirm the new prime minister’s nominations for the defense and interior ministries – the two that really count, and the two that are still a function of Iraq’s permanent sectarian divides. So as the US president commits this country to war in defense of “Iraq”, the same “Iraq” is so divided it cannot form the government that Obama explicitly said was a prerequisite. Which means it was not a prerequisite. It was more bullshit for an open-ended war with no Plan B that had already been decided upon.
To me, that does not seem something that we elected Obama to do. Au contraire. I will add a couple more points: General Dempsey today filled in the blanks for what happens after the current “strategy” fails: