LAYING out a military strategy toward the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in his speech to the nation on Wednesday night, Barack Obama spun out a string of nuanced messages. He sought to portray the danger of the ruthless insurgent army as a potential, but not an imminent, threat to the United States. He warned jihadists “if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven” in either Iraq or Syria. Yet he pledged no boots on the ground in either country, and just 475 more American troops to supply, train and assist the Iraqi and Kurdish forces. Moreover, he promised that America would not be going it alone but proceeding with a “broad coalition” of other nations.
The mission to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS carries significant risks and will keep American military pilots busy. While warning that “it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL [an alternate abbreviation of the group's name],” Mr Obama wisely provided no whiff of a timetable. Nonetheless, he did not explain how air power alone could realistically achieve the mission, even after years of strikes. Zack Beauchamp explains the depth of the challenge at Vox. While...Continue reading