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Monday, December 22, 2014

Action in Iraq is long overdue

The “paper tiger” has finally shown its claws, and it’s about time.

Last week I bashed President Obama for his lack of leadership in the Middle East. His amateur’s knowledge of foreign policy has allowed for a chain reaction of violence and chaos to take place around the world.

As militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria pillaged town after town in Iraq, including locations where American soldiers fought and lost their lives to free Iraqi citizens from oppression, the U.S. sat back. As ISIS executed Iraqi soldiers in the streets and began a bloody ethnic cleansing campaign against Shiite Muslims and Iraqi Christians, the U.S. did nothing.

Finally, on Aug. 7, Obama announced that he had authorized limited airstrikes against the militants, marking the first time since 2011 that the U.S. will have a significant battlefield role in Iraq.

The president was forced into action after it became clear that the Kurdish capital, Erbil, was at risk. Not only does this put our Kurdish allies at risk, but it also raises the danger level for American diplomats, military advisers and other citizens currently based there.

ISIS has become increasingly violent, seizing six towns in northern Iraq in just two days, as of this writing, and threatening Kurdistan. The jihadist militants have also set out to trap and kill the entire Iraqi Yazidi sect. The Yazidis were forced to either flee or be slaughtered, as gruesome images began to surface of them being brutally slain. Then 40,000 of them fled to the mountains without food or water, and were trapped by ISIS troops who had already killed 70 children and at least 500 men.

After more than two months of doing nothing, it’s about time we showed some backbone.

In a late-night press conference last week, Obama made it clear that the U.S. wasn’t going to back down from the “barbaric” militants. However, the president was quick to reassure Americans that our nation would not be dragged into another war in Iraq, insisting that the military operations would not amount to full-scale engagement.

Why tell the enemy what we will not do? We should keep all of our options on the table.

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