Wednesday, September 24, 2014


It’s been two weeks since President Obama announced his plan to expand the U.S. bombing campaign against Islamist militants in Iraq to targets across the Syrian border and to increase arms shipments to rival factions in Syria’s civil war. But today is the day that he has promised to provide some context and details of the new military campaign, which remains a point of great concern across the political spectrum. The move to announce and eventually commence an escalated air war against the Islamist army known as ISIS may have stopped Obama’s recent slide in support, which intensified after Obama’s ill-advised Aug. 20 golf outing following a statement in which he said he was “heartbroken” about the beheading of an American captive. But misgivings abound. Today, the president gives the speech at the United Nations that Obama and his team have said would provide the context and details for this new military campaign.
[We hope it was at least an Americano - Daily Caller: “President Barack Obama returned a formal military salute with a one-handed coffee-cup salute Tuesday, only a few hours after he dispatched the nation’s military on their attack mission into northern Syria. White House aides posted the sloppy salute video on Instagram.”]
Neither fish nor foul - The administration has set huge expectations for the president’s speech today in a bid to buy time to work out some kind of strategy that might appease voters who still believe that the president begins this latest military mission without a clear aim toward victory. Those opposed to military intervention see the president stumbling to war under political pressure while more hawkish Americans are deeply skeptical that Obama will actually reverse his prior mistakes in Libya and Afghanistan and commit the resources and energy necessary to make the Syria war a success.

[Time: “Barack Obama’s war against ISIS has come a long way from Sinjar Mountain…. warfare has pulled hard at Obama ever since. And the record so far leaves little reason to think it’s finished with him.”]

Tough crowd - But the venue the president has chosen to lay out his vision for the war will make his task much harder. It must have sounded good when his team was in full damage-control mode to buy a bit of time and push questions forward to a grand address in a grand setting. When we see the advance hints at what the president will say, however, we get a clear sense that he is not comfortable drawing hard lines in front of an international community. Remember, the majority at the UN is deeply resentful of American power, and the international community that once saw Obama as a departure from decades of past American militarism and celebrated his coming as a repudiation of the past is not going to cheer at the news of more air strikes. If the president gets up and makes what sounds like a scattershot approach – sweeping by Ebola, global warming and income inequality – he might mute the anxieties of his audience in New York, but he will certainly leave Americans more skeptical