BY TIMOTHY P. CARNEY, Washington Examiner
President Obama says he doesn’t take lightly the decision to launch air attacks on Iraq — but you couldn’t tell that from the way he launched the attack.
Obama may or may not be making the correct decision in attacking the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — the well-armed Islamist terrorist group now attempting a horrifying takeover of Iraq — and so it would have been proper for Obama to raise the question for debate in the past few months while ISIS spread across Iraq. Also, the legality of attacking without congressional authorization is murky.
Finally, it’s hard to discern the objective of this attack: Will we bomb until ISIS is eliminated? Or does ISIS simply need to be contained? Are we simply protecting Kurdistan, the semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq? What if American intervention becomes a rallying cry for other terrorist groups in the region? Will we bomb them, too?
In this fog of war, it’s hard to see clearly. But the territory looks upsettingly familiar.
Obama said we needed to attack to prevent a genocide by ISIS. “When we have the unique capabilities to avert a massacre,” he said Thursday night, “the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.”
This is a familiar line to anyone who has followed the liberal interventionist strain of thought articulated by Obama and President Bill Clinton, and championed by Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Obama’s words Thursday echoed his justification for attacking Libya:
“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries,” Obama said in 2011, warning that Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi would exterminate the rebels in his country and their sympathizers. “The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the Images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”
Attacking Libya, it seems clear today, was a mistake. Deposing Gadhafi rid that country of a murderous tyrant, but every species of terrorist and extremist has slithered into the vacuum left behind. “Scumbag Woodstock” is how one counterterrorism contractor in Africa described Libya to Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake.