In a statement to the nation, President Obama announced that he has authorized targeted airstrikes and a humanitarian mission to avert a potential genocide in Iraq.
The president announced that he authorized two operations in Iraq. He announced targeted airstrikes to protect U.S. personnel in Iraq, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who trapped on a mountain, and almost facing certain death.
President Obama said, “When we have the unique capabilities to avert a massacre, I believe the United States of America can not 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 have, 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.”
Obama outlined the humanitarian mission and expressed understanding about concern over airstrikes in Iraq. He said, “As Commander In Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq, so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to Iraq.”
Earlier this week, the UN warned that a humanitarian tragedy is unfolding on Mount Sinjar, “A humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in Sinjar. The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government should urgently restore their security cooperation in dealing with the crisis. I call on all Iraqi authorities, civil society and international partners to work with the United Nations to ensure the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance.”
It is difficult not to view the latest airstrikes and humanitarian aid as more cleaning up of the mess that Bush’s Iraq war left behind. One of the consistencies of Obama’s presidency has been his willingness to deploy US resources for humanitarian missions. Some people will certainly be alarmed and see this announcement as movement towards war, but that isn’t the case.
The president is making it clear that troops aren’t going back in and there is not another US war in Iraq on the horizon. It would be morally wrong for the United States to let tens of thousands of people be massacred over a war of choice that George W. Bush started.
Tonight’s announcement isn’t a new war. It is the president dealing with the consequences of the mess that George W. Bush left behind.