The social media-produced execution of journalist Jim Foley released on Aug. 19 focuses attention on whether President Obama will stay the course in Iraq or take necessary actions to defeat the Islamic State (IS).
President Obama has tried to articulate a clear doctrine of when the United States should use force. He said in his Nobel lecture in 2009 that force was justified against al Qaeda because "negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms." He also said, "I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later." Force is justified when either our interests or our ideals, or both, are threatened.
The growing threat from the Islamic State and the Obama administration 's accelerating campaign of airstrikes against it serve reminder of history's continual capacity to surprise. If even one year ago someone had predicted that Iraq would mark the next site of a major American military intervention, such a forecast would have been dismissed as hopelessly far-fetched, even delusional. Yet with the Obama administration now giving persistent indications that this will be a sustained and multi-pronged campaign in Iraq and potentially Syria, the White House needs to take the next step of going to Capitol Hill and requesting Congressional support for this newest phase of the war against militant jihadism.
Reading the voluminous news and commentary on the Islamic State (IS), I was struck by how the rapidly unfolding events seem to be disrupting many familiar patterns.
The National Defense Panel originally was established by the Congress to provide a nonpartisan evaluation of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The members of the 2014 panel, chaired by former Secretary of Defense William Perry and retired General John Abizaid pulled no punches in their assessment of the 2014 QDR. Their language bordered on the harsh, and their critique of the Obama administration's policies lacked all subtlety.