Get ready for some more mixed messaging on the US role in the Middle East, because we could be in for a doozy—even when it comes to ISIS.
We’ve talked a lot here about the mixed messages the administration is sending regarding our mission in the Middle East. We have “boots on the ground”—but we don’t. We’re in it to win it—but we need to hold back and not commit to a real offensive. Officials overseas have gone so far as to publicly question whether or not Obama knows exactly what we’re doing over there.
It seems like Congress feels the same way.
House Speaker John Boehner is now saying that it will be “virtually impossible” for Congress to pass Obama’s proposed authorization for the use of military force against ISIS in the Middle East.
Why? Because it makes no sense.
From the AP:
In a meeting with a handful of reporters, the Republican leader said Obama’s proposal for new authority is stalled months after Obama requested a three-year authority that bans “enduring offensive combat operations” for U.S. troops.
Boehner said it made no sense for Congress to give the president less authority than he already has to combat Islamic extremists, who have captured parts of Iraq and Syria.
“Until the president gets serious, there’s no reason to give him less authority,” Boehner said.
Congress has held several hearings on Obama’s request, issued in February, but the authority has languished.
Boehner, who recently led a congressional delegation to the Middle East, said he wants U.S. forces in Iraq to have a larger role in planning and directing Iraqis trying to combat the Islamic militants. He stopped short of saying the U.S. should send more than the 4,500 troops in the region.
It’s not just Congress. According to the AP report, allies are asking some tough questions about it—namely, where’s America headed or is America abandoning us?
It’s an interesting question both of foreign policy, and optics for an already-struggling administration. At this point, they have to know that they’re not trusted to either make the right call, or stay the course once the decision has been made.
Yesterday, Obama hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the White House and promised $200 million in humanitarian aid to those displaced by ISIS. This is a great thing, but al-Abadi hinted that more was needed:
Al-Abadi told reporters Monday that an increase in U.S. airstrikes, weapons deliveries and training has helped roll back Islamic State forces, but he needed greater support from the international coalition to “finish” them. “We want to see more,” he said.
But White House press secretary Josh Earnest said al-Abadi made no specific request for additional military assistance.
Speaking to reporters at the end of their meeting, the prime minister thanked the United States for its sacrifices in the effort to liberate Iraq and said their cooperation is pushing back terrorism. He said he and Obama discussed plans to liberate the Islamic State strongholds in Anbar province and the city of Mosul, after a successful campaign backed by U.S. airstrikes to push the militants out of Tikrit.
“President Obama and the U.S. administration have expressed full readiness to provide support for our security forces in our effort to liberate all of Iraq,” al-Abadi said.
That the administration is “ready” to help I have no doubt; the question is, how far are they willing to commit themselves into what could end up being another enduring ground offensive in Iraq? ISIS is still on the move, blitzing their way through the region and taking no prisoners in the process.
Boehner has said that he and his coalition in Congress want the US to take a more dedicated role in the fight against ISIS—though stopping short of upping the troop count—which is completely at odds with the three-year limit proposed by the Obama Administration.
Nobody is excited about the prospect of another war in Iraq, but now that we’ve dipped our toe in the pool, can we step back without losing even more credibility on the international stage?
The answer is most likely, “no.”DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.