U.S. fighters dropped bombs on Islamic militants in Iraq Friday, the Pentagon said, redeeming President Barack Obama’s promise of military force to counter the advancing militants and confront the threat they pose to Iraqi civilians and Americans.
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said that two F/A-18 jets dropped 500-pound bombs on a piece of artillery and the truck towing it.
In a televised to the speech Thursday night, Obama had threatened to renew U.S. military involvement in Iraq’s long sectarian war. He said that American military planes already had carried out airdrops of food and water, at the request of the Iraqi government, to tens of thousands of Iraqi religious minorities atop a mountain surrounded by militants and desperately in need of supplies.
“America is coming to help,” the president said in a somber speech from the White House.
The Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion with ties to Zoroastrianism, fled their homes after the Islamic State group issued an ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a religious fine, flee their homes or face death.
“Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, ‘There is no one coming to help.’ Well, today, America is coming to help,” Obama said. “We’re also consulting with other countries — and the United Nations — who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis.”
The announcement reflected the deepest American engagement in Iraq since U.S. troops withdrew in late 2011 after nearly a decade of war. Obama, who made his remarks in a steady and somber tone, has staked much of his legacy as president on ending what he once called the “dumb war” in Iraq.
Mindful of the public’s aversion to another lengthy war, Obama acknowledged that the prospect of a new round of U.S. military action would be a cause for concern among many Americans. He vowed anew not to put American combat troops back on the ground in Iraq and said there was no U.S. military solution to the crisis.
“As commander in chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” Obama said.
The last thing anyone wants to do is sound smug in the light of the deaths of civilians or genocide on the part of religious fanatics, so I ask with all due sincerity and humility: how much of this would have occurred if we had never invaded Iraq in the first place?
The standard argument was that Sadam Hussein was an evil dictator who killed his own people and conducted torture against his enemies, promoted hatred against the West, fought a withering war with Iran, and threatened Israel. Yes, he did all of those things. And so did a lot of other bad actors in the world, and so did a number of dictators that we supported, overtly or otherwise, throughout the last century and throughout history. This battle between religious sects in Iraq and Syria is thousands of years old. It is only American hubris and chauvinism that assumes it is all about us and our Western values of white bread and the Kardashians.
This turd has been handed down from generations long past; from the division of the Ottoman Empire after World War I and the arrogance of the victors to dictate the terms of peace that gave rise to the dictators of the past and present.
But this moment, this action, could have been forestalled if we had never gone there in 2003; if we had never let the liars and the bloodsuckers win their war of lies and a promise of richness beyond the dreams of Avarice. Until we end that war, we will not end this one.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald.