Obama "Strategy" to Bomb Syria, Escalate in Iraq Pilloried by Progressives
President Obama delivered a national televised address on Wednesday night and told the American public that he now plans, with or without Congressional approval, to dramatically expand U.S. military operations against the militant faction known as the ‘Islamic State’ (aka ISIS and ISIL) by sending more U.S. combat troops to Iraq and initiating a bombing campaign in neighboring Syria.
“There are very thoughtful and long term plans that can eliminate extremism in Iraq and Syria, but the U.S. military intervention, and continuing to support some Iraqi factions against others, will only delay real solutions.” —Raed Jarrar, AFSCIn the fourteen-minute speech, Obama vowed to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL,” but progressive and anti-war critics were immediate and scathing in their denouncement of Obama’s plans with many expressing outrage that the president who once vowed to end the era of perpetual war—and was first elected in large part for his criticisms of the Bush Administration’s illegal and ultimately disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003—continues to make such misguided and increasingly reckless foreign policy decisions.
Watch the speech (read it):
Writing for The Progressive in the wake of Obama’s announcement, Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC challenged the entire premise of the president’s plan by saying, “Escalating military actions against this violent extremist organization is not going to work.”
“The President’s citing of the success of American military policy in Somalia and Yemen show how intellectually and morally dishonest this administration.” —Matthew Ho, Center for International Policy
She continued, “A military strike might bring some immediate satisfaction, but we all know revenge is a bad basis for foreign policy, especially when it has such dangerous consequences.”
Instead, Bennis laid out six steps to help resolve the regional crisis that would not involved bombing raids or sending additional to weapons to warring factions.
In his response to the Obama plan, Raed Jarrar, the policy impact director for the American Friends Service Committee, said the strategy is misguided because—like the guiding mindset of the entire ‘Global War on Terrorism’ launched after 911— it is “still based on the myth that extremism can be defeated by military force.”
He pointed out that the word “political” or mention of a concerted diplomatic settlement to end the crisis was never raised in Obama’s speech. Jarrar continued:
Matthew Hoh, a former U.S. Marine and diplomat who resigned over the failed policy in Afghinstan and now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, said in a statement:
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“A rational observer of United States intervention in the swath of land that runs from Libya to Afghanistan would come to a simple conclusion: U.S. military action leads to chaos.” —Prof. Vijay Prishad, Trinity College
Vijay Prishad, professor of international studies at Trinity College, argued that the strategy Obama has put forth does have precedents—both from his own presidency and that of his predecessor—and that they all prove the shortsightedness and disastrous results of the military approach. In an essay published Wednesday, Prashad wrote:
During and immediately following the televised address, progressive journalists and foreign policy experts on Twitter exploded in critical response to Obama’s so-called “strategy” to deal with the Islamic State.
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