President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Crisis in Iraq

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
August 7, 2014
President Obama Delivers a Statement on Iraq, August 7, 2014

Tonight, President Barack Obama announced that he authorized two operations in Iraq -- "targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death."  President Obama explained:

"...I said in June -- as the terrorist group ISIL began an advance across Iraq -- that the United States would be prepared to take targeted military action in Iraq if and when we determined that the situation required it.  In recent days, these terrorists have continued to move across Iraq, and have neared the city of Erbil, where American diplomats and civilians serve at our consulate and American military personnel advise Iraqi forces.

"To stop the advance on Erbil, I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city.  We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad.  We’re also providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more effectively wage the fight against ISIL.

"Second, at the request of the Iraqi government -- we’ve begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain.  As ISIL has marched across Iraq, it has waged a ruthless campaign against innocent Iraqis.  And these terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yezidis, a small and ancient religious sect.  Countless Iraqis have been displaced.  And chilling reports describe ISIL militants rounding up families, conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yezidi women. 

"In recent days, Yezidi women, men and children from the area of Sinjar have fled for their lives.  And thousands -- perhaps tens of thousands -- are now hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs.  They’re without food, they’re without water.  People are starving.  And children are dying of thirst.  Meanwhile, ISIL forces below have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yezidi people, which would constitute genocide.  So these innocent families are faced with a horrible choice:  descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger.

"I’ve said before, the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world.  So let me be clear about why we must act, and act now.  When we face a situation like we do on that mountain -- with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help -- in this case, a request from the Iraqi government -- and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.  We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide.  That’s what we’re doing on that mountain.

"I’ve, therefore, authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there.  Already, American aircraft have begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help these desperate men, women and children survive.  Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, 'There is no one coming to help.'  Well today, America is coming to help.  We’re also consulting with other countries -- and the United Nations -- who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis." 

In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said, "President Obama has acted expeditiously and appropriately in authorizing targeted military action and providing significant humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq at this very difficult moment when it is vitally needed. The stakes for Iraq’s future could not be clearer, and today’s crisis underscores the stakes profoundly."

Secretary Kerry continued, "...We will continue to coordinate with our allies in the region and the international community to assist Iraqis to confront ISIL’s brutal ideology which poses a severe threat to Iraq, the region, and the United States.

"President Obama has been unequivocal that he will do what is necessary and what is in our national interest to confront ISIL and its threat to the security of the region and to our own long-term security. He has been equally clear, as I have on my visit to Iraq and in all my conversations with Iraqi and regional leaders, that the only durable way to stop ISIL is for Iraq’s real leaders to unite and form an inclusive government as rapidly as possible within their own constitutional framework."

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Comments

Marci F.
|
United States
August 8, 2014
Having created ISIL over in neighboring Syria, perhaps the US does have a responsibility to "confront its brutal ideology." But as yet another war of intervention is launched, it may be time to recall the old aphorism, "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
Laneo B.
|
United States
August 8, 2014
Thank you ever so MUCH for beginning to take courageous action in Northeastern Iraq attempting to ward off a yet another 'mini Rwanda'.
lokman l.
|
Turkey
August 8, 2014
glad to see USA back on the grid, beside , slightly complicated area/population. Good luck!!!
Shabnam N.
|
New Zealand
August 9, 2014
For months people are crying for help in Gaza.. where is america than??????? Billions of people appealed to america to stop israel ..why is america not taking any actions?????? You can only stand up for christians. You are a racist country. American politicians are the biggest terrorists!!!!!!!! And your current reactions prove that out loud
Eric J.
|
New Mexico, USA
August 11, 2014

"President Obama has been unequivocal that he will do what is necessary and what is in our national interest to confront ISIL and its threat to the security of the region and to our own long-term security." -Sec. Kerry

This blog used to have some pretty amazing discussions among the public and folks in government, of which the following was but one of many;

http://blogs.state.gov/stories/2008/06/20/how-would-you-define-america-s...

..and I've noted the healthy discussion on this and other grave topics du jour among former secretaries here;

http://www.c-span.org/video/?320782-1/former-cabinet-secretaries-russia-...

Which included one of most interesting defintions of "Diplomacy" I've ever heard thanks to Robert Gates, to which he stated; ..is like saying "nice doggy, nice doggy" while looking for a rock.

One may well wonder if we had dropped a big rock on Assad's pointy little head a few years back whether all that's happened since might have been avoided, including ISIL's emergence as the cancer it has become to social order in the region...but at least the President has a rock in his hand now to help folks deal with the results.

Maybe it had to get to this point to motivate Iraqis to work together for the good of all, in common cause. As well as motivating nations in the region and in Europe to realize that the price of leaving dictators and terrorists to set the terms of people's living conditions was in no one's national interests.

Some relevant comments from;

http://blogs.state.gov/stories/2014/06/20/isil-terrorist-organization-no...

I realize the President would much rather be tweeking American domestic policy to get a few things through Congress, than "confront" ISIL (ISIS...or any other wanna be jihadi that can't be bothered to go home and take care of his mother as a better alternative.) Sec. Kerry used the term "confront" as an intent of US policy towards ISIL....All I can say is I hope there's more to it than that... in policy goals ...inclusive of using the term "ISIL" in the past tense, as being one with the dustbin of history.
We have one advantage by circumstance and that's that a good 80% of the world's terrorists have gathered in Syria and Iraq, and it's about time we held a multilateral regional rodeo and rounded them all up.....hog tied if need be. Might as well grab Assad too, you'all will want a rodeo clown...stuffed in a barrel for fun. Call it "Cowboy diplomacy".
Folks , I don't mean to be flip....but I have yet to see anyone make of this the opportunity that's been presented to the international community on a golden platter...

...and help set the stage for a good 'ol fashioned "a*^$ Whuppin' of ISIL, by every single nation in the region, acting in concert...

...You'all (the powers that be among nations) have 10 million displaced needing to go back home to rebuild their lives...they challenge you far more than my words here could ever inspire. Another 40 million world-wide.

Long time ago when the Arab Spring started a fellow know on Dipnote as "John in Greece" asked me if it would turn into a bloodbath....I don't know that anyone including the UN has been keeping track of how many have died in the region since this all started.... The US provided critical support to the Libyan people when faced with Ghaddafi's wrath, in concert with NATO allies, and the EU.
Removed a dictator from power helping the people get some justice and freedom. Now they gots to make something of it better than what they had. Iraq isn't dissimilar in this respect, nor will Syria be, sans Assad.
Democracy is not a placebo for the masses. Folks are finding out how hard it is to protect democratic freedom once they got a taste of it. Runs the risk of upon ridding themselves of a dictator , being like everyone wants to have a revolution and become dictator...and run roughshod over people's good nature in the process.
We do a pretty good job of removing dictators, defeating insugents, and taking the fight to a self declared enemy. It's the follow-up we have trouble with...
I can't imagine how quickly this terrorist org would remain in buisiness if all (except Iran) of Syria and Iraq's neighbors were to "borrow" Syrian and Iraqi territory to attack ISIL upon...technicly cross Syria and Iraq's border with massed armed forces on a specific mission , once completed to return to bases.
The mission being two-fold w/ US air support; to eliminare ISIL as a threat and remove civilians from harms way and provide aid to them.
If the Russians can't or won't remove Assad, then it's probably time to give him and his family "72 hours" to leave Syria and give up power, and I'm not too sure if that's being too generous or not. Put the big squeeze on ISIL from all corners by all concerned, till there's nothing to be concerned about from them. The faster they are defeated, the less permanent damage to society will take place. -EJ
---end excerpts from comments---

It seems to me that if one has been awarded the Nobel peace prize, and he happens to be "the leader of the free world" a President can never stop earning is so long as he is, and sometimes that isn't a matter of ending US involvement in conflicts, but by creating the peace among nations from scratch as the tide of war inherantly has its eb and flow.

If it is declared a matter of imminent genocide which needs to be addressed on mt. Sinjar...will this Administration then address the ongoing genocide in Syria at the hands of Assad and ISIL? Or will the President stick to Susan Rice's opinion given sometime back that what is going on in Syria doesn't merit that definition?

Only time will tell.

It is interesting to see the two-fold approach outlined in my comments be put into kinetic motion due to circumstance we "can't walk away from" but I sure hate being right most of the time.

Cowboy diplomacy is fully dependant on the strength and temperament of the horse ridden, and if you want to round up the bad guys, best form up a posse, in everyone's national interests.

EJ 8/11/14

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