Obama Airstrikes, But Keeps Promise

Map showing ISIS presenceOne week ago, the White House and Obama Administration discussed a possible military airstrike against an Islamic Extremist group (known as ISIL – Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) quickly gaining ground in Iraq and Syria.  The group, also known as the successor to Al-Qaeda, gained a hold of the most powerful dam in Iraq that grants them access to the entire Baghdad River more or less.   With that acquisition, the United States along with other allies such as France and smaller cities in Iraq decided that it was time to take action.  Would the best tactic be a full-on military assault to stop the group immediately?  Should we not take military action, but just aid the religious minorities?  President Obama proposes an airstrike.  A move that covers and solves the three major problems we currently have: offense, defense, and promises.

The ISIL is known for death threats throughout Iraq in an effort to strengthen their numbers.  They target religious minorities and smaller groups with death threats to make them convert.  The people are forced to either pay a “religious fine,” convert to their group, evacuate their homes or otherwise face death.  Because of this, there are currently 40,000 religious minorities trapped on top of a mountain without any food, water or shelter whatsoever.  ISIL is at the base of the mountain, eliminating any possible escape for them.  This brought even more attention to the problem, as a group who can hold 40,000 people hostage on top of a mountain is nothing to be taken lightly.

Obama is well-known for stating to America that as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S Military, he “will not allow any military ground troops to be sent back to Iraq.”  We currently have a few hundred military advisors and support groups placed throughout allied towns and cities in Iraq to keep control of things.  Other than that, there have been no troops in Iraq since Obama called for all military personnel to leave back in 2011.  I feel that Obama would lose a lot of credibility and faith from a lot of Americans if he were to bring troops into another war.  While it is something that needs to happen if the time calls (it’s the job you signed up for, right?) being pulled away from your family is never a good feeling.  Going back to the point at hand, Obama has kept his word and is not taking into account any form of action that would result in sending troops back to Iraq to fight.

The proposition, then, is a combined airstrike plus airdrop done from the skies by the United States military.  This method solves all three problems in every situation: the airstrike would heavily damage the advancement of the ISIL; the airdrop gives food and water to the 40,000 dying people on the mountain and lets them known that help is on the way; and lastly, it keeps Obama’s promise to the citizens of the United States that he will not bring ground troops back to Iraq.  I agree that this would be the best situation to take.  We do not want to start another war by using an extreme military force.  We also don’t want to be too passive by just using an airdrop and ignoring the Islamics.  This proposal gives us all the necessary options to accomplish everything that we would like to do.

The White House thought so as well, as this past Thursday, The United States gave the military the go-ahead to launch a military airstrike on the extremist.  The bombing consisted of multiple 500-pound laser-guided bombs that were dropped on artillery and camps that destroyed weapons, killed 40+ people and injured another 60+.  On top of that, the military also used two of their cargo planes to drop 5,300 gallons of water and 8,000 meals on top of the mountain to the refugees.  Reports stated that only an extremely small portion of the drop fell into the hands of the extremist.  The following day, the military executed another air strike on the group while it was heading towards the city of Irbil.  According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the second wave of airstrikes hit a seven-vehicle convoy on-route to Irbil.  When the Islamics came back to pick up the pieces, a third attack caught them and successfully eliminated them.  Chuck Hagel stated that “the aircraft executed two planned passes.  On both runs, each aircraft dropped one laser-guided bomb, making a total of eight bombs dropped on target, neutralizing the mortar and convoy.”

Why should we care about this situation when we have bigger problems in our own country?  You’re right, there are bigger problems that we still need to take care of in the United States.  However, one way to take care of a big problem is to stop it from becoming a big problem in the first place and that is exactly what Obama is doing.  We are stopping this problem at the source before it can spread and cause an all-out war in the near future.  This was an incredibly successful attack, not only because of the damage done, but because of the prevention that it caused.  Irbil has a population of close to a million people.  If ISIL were able to attack the city and gain control of it, along with the acquisition of the Baghdad Dam, the power swing would have been tremendous and would have taken more than just three airstrikes to solve, along with the thousands or even hundreds of thousands of deaths that it would have caused.

Even if ISIL takes this event as an act of war, they are not strong enough to actually back that up.  It’s all about attacking while they are weak and growing.  They are the successors to Al-Queda and I’m sure revenge is on their minds.  So it doesn’t matter whether they think it’s an act of war now, because they will start a war later if they aren’t dealt it.  Some even suggest bringing troops back to deal with the problem before it gets out of control.   The White House had plans to not take military action, until the Prime Minister, who many hate even more than ISIL, resigned (he was planned to).  However, because Irbil is home to a U.S Consulate as well as a joint U.S-Iraqi operations center, the White House had no choice, but to take action.  “As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities,” (John Kirby, Department of Defense).

Overall, I believe the Obama Administration is doing everything correctly.  They are attacking the problem at the source while aiding the dying religious minorities and keeping its promise to the United States citizens all in one move.  They are finally solving a problem before it becomes a problem, and they should take every necessary action to do so; even if it means breaking the promise.  We can either send 1,000 people now, or 10,000 later.  The choice is theirs.     

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