Escalation / Destabilization Conflict

Obama failed to stop the Islamic State when he had the chance

By Marc A. Thiessen July 28

From Europe to the Middle East, we have seen how disaster follows U.S. retreat and disengagement from the world. But the one area where President Obama seemed to be leaning forward was drone strikes. He personally approved terrorist “kill lists” and has taken out many hundreds of terrorists with drones in Pakistan, Yemen and East Africa.

So why, when Iraqi officials began pleading with him one year ago to strike Islamic State terrorists with drones, did Obama repeatedly refuse — standing by while terrorists overran the country?

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce made the stunning revelation in a congressional hearing last week that Iraq had been urgently requesting drone support against the Islamic State since August 2013 and that those requests were repeatedly turned down.

Obama officials have publicly claimed that Iraq requested air support only in May of this year, after Islamic State had already taken Fallujah and was marching on Mosul. That is untrue. And it is Royce’s version of events that is borne out by the public record. On Aug. 17, 2013, in a little-noticed story entitled “Iraq Open to U.S. Drone Strikes on Terrorists,” Bloomberg News reported that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was in Washington “seeking U.S. advisers, air surveillance or even drone strikes” and that “the top Iraqi diplomat’s comments are the first time he has publicly raised the possibility of working with the U.S. on anti-terrorist drone strikes.”

That was a year ago. Had Obama acted on those requests, the Islamic State offensive might very well have been stopped. The United States could have hit the terrorists while they were still in staging areas in the western Iraqi desert, away from civilians, where they were easy targets for U.S. drones. Instead Obama did nothing, while the Islamic State massed its forces, marched into Iraqi cities, and proclaimed a radical Islamic state.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obama-failed-to-stop-the-islamic-state-when-he-had-the-chance/2014/07/28/7b883e38-1652-11e4-9349-84d4a85be981_story.html