President Barak Obama has had absolutely no support for anything he does or tries to do by the Republicans in Congress who constitute the filibustering minority party in the Senate and the majority party in the House of Representatives. Their fervent goal has been and is to denounce any action he takes or tries to take.
House Speaker John Boehner has been recently making statements that it is not Congresses job to make policy decisions. But Speaker Boehner is presumably suing the President for taking actions without the consent of Congress.
The country is currently facing a number of international emergencies that defy simple solutions. In fact, each seems to be a no win situation. In the Middle East
Members of both major political parties in Congress have argued for immediate action without specifically stating what the action should be. A number of Democrats want the president to be more resolute while members of the Republican Party seem to want immediate action, the sending of troops to Iraq and Syria. Others want action without suggesting what that action should be. In the Ukraine there seems to be a war going on between the Separatists and Russia. Congress has not passed any resolution supporting any position. And no one in Congress seems to be ready to vote for any kind of war, or for that matter, any kind of action. At least this was their position before they went on vacation for the month of August. They will return to work on the second week of August.
In Syria and Iraq ISIS or ISIL has set up a separate Islamic State in areas they have been able to conquer and control. Here they are freely beheading and otherwise freely killing people. They have attempted genocide of a group within Iraq, forcing these people without food or water, to flee up an arid mountain. They have beheaded an American reporter because the U.S. has refused to pay a ransom of several million dollars and because they objected to the U.S. rescuing the group on the mountain and because of other military participation against them in Iraq. ISIS has also beheaded another kidnaped reporter, presumably because the U.S. did not stop its air strikes against them in Iraq. The effect of this has been the reverse of what they want.
ISIS or ISIL is reminiscent of the old Nazi Party in Germany. They have essentially been able to organize an army of people who psychologically are losers, not able to successfully function in a normal society. As members of the group they are now the strong, the successful, the leaders, and they have absolute power within the areas they dominate. They can arbitrarily put anyone to death. They are now the feared winners within the regions they rule. Recently, I understand, they have also been providing social services for many of the poor within their state. They follow an old primitive form of the Sunni Islamic faith.
The U.S. invaded Iraq, under the Bush Administration, in the year 2003 after the al-Qaida suicide attack and destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City and after the invasion of the al Qaida stronghold in Afghanistan. Its stated goal was to search out and remove weapons of mass destruction such as atomic bombs making material and poison gas. Its real purpose, which it failed to achieve, was to gain control of Iraqi Oil.
The United States completed its withdrawal from Iraq in December of 2011, during its ninth year there after helping to set up an elected government. The agreement to leave had been drawn up by the Bush Administration after the Iraqi Government refused to continue a policy toward Americans of immunity from Iraqi law. Actually both the Americans and the Iraqis wanted the U.S. forces out of the country.
Unfortunately Iraq ended with a Shia prime minister, Maliki, and a Shia dominated government which gradually discriminated against the Sunni minority within the country, arresting their leaders and other in the group. The result being that a percentage of the population did not and does not trust the government. ISIS, as we’ve seen, is a Sunni terrorist group that has cut out for itself a state that consists partly of Syrian and partly of Iraqi territory. It has voiced claims to other parts of the Middle East.
The population of Iraq tends to be mixed and confused at this point; the government is largely ineffective. If the United States were to become involved in a full military capacity now it would be in Iraq not only fighting ISIS but also supporting the Shia government against the Sunnis living in the country.
President Obama has called for and continues to call for a democratic reorganization of the Iraqi Government, with both sides fairly represented, before the U.S. takes any large scale decisive action. Under these circumstances he apparently feels Iraq will be able to mount an effective military force against the Sunni terrorist group, ISIS.
Currently the U.S. is effectively supporting the Kurds, another ethnic group within Iraq, with air support.
On Monday, September 1, 2014, President Obama formally notified the U.S. Congress that he had authorized air strikes and humanitarian airdrops over the Iraqi city of Amerli, the preceding weekend where ISIS militants had trapped the civilian population.
Iraqi security forces backed by Shiite militias and Kurds on Sunday broke the two month siege of Amerli and entered the city after U.S. military carried out air strikes on the attacking forces.
In this case, with American help, the Kurds, a non-Islamic ethnic group, were able to save their city and defeat ISIS. Will the Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis be able this time to form a democratic government which is fair to all groups living in Iraq; and will this allow them to form an effective military that can successfully fight ISIS? And how long will this take? Can the United States be marginally involved until this occurs? An interesting question.
What should the U.S. do in terms of Syria which has been involved in a civil war for the last few years? There is the original absolutistic government led by Assad who is fighting over a dozen different revolutionary groups of which ISIS is the most extreme and probably the most successful since it now rules a section of the country. By attacking ISIS there we strengthen Assad’s government, which is in the middle of a civil war, and weaken the Arab Spring in their attempt to reform Syria.
We are, in a manner of speaking, caught on the horns of a dilemma. Any move we make in Syria is a no-win move. We do have drones, pilotless planes, flying over Syria and presumably mapping out everything. This is even though Assad has officially stated that he will allow no planes to occupy Syria’s air space unless that government were cooperating with the Syrian government. What should President Obama do in Syria? Should we aid the more moderate groups with shipments of arms? Eventually we may have to bomb ISIS bases there.
President Barak Obama’s strategy seems to be to gather as many allies as he can, form cooperating coalitions, both in the Middle East and Europe, who are opposed to ISIS as a terrorist state that is both anti-Arab and anti-Occidental. He seems to want to build a coalition that is anti-terrorist. He has also stated in a letter to Congressional leaders on September 1, 2014, of his decision under the War Powers Act that he chooses to broaden the U.S. military role in Iraq. He will deliberate carefully before making final decisions on whether to expand U.S. air strikes into Syria. He has avoided military intervention to date during the three years of civil war.
There is also the situation in the Ukraine with Russia. Under Putin’s leadership Russia is trying to forcibly take over Ukraine. This presents another problem. How does the United States and its European allies (NATO) stop them short of war? The Russian premier, Vladimir Putin, has threatened atomic war. This is something that was never done during the Cold War. During the Cuban Missile Crisis the two countries were on the point of war but both backed off. Chairman Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba and the U.S. secretly agreed to remove our missiles from Turkey six months later. If Khrushchev had not backed down then President Kennedy was ready to openly remove the missiles in Turkey in exchange for the missiles in Cuba. Neither man would consider an atomic war.
As a footnote: Joseph Stalin’s daughter married an American and settled in the United States. Khrushchev’s granddaughter currently teaches at a university in the United States
If Congress wanted to defuse the situation between the two countries it would end its vacation prematurely, return to Washington, D.C., and authorize the President to take whatever action(s) necessary in dealing with Russia, including war. This would give Putin second thoughts and he would be forced to act as an adult in the situation. It would also give President Obama a full range of possible actions in dealing with Russia. It would mean the U.S. is standing together, which it is not doing, with the Republicans jockeying for political advantage against the President and the Democrats.
During the last week of August 2014 President Obama stated that his administration did not yet have a strategy to combat ISIS, at least in the areas it controls in Syria. By the end of the following week in Wales at the summing up of the results of the NATO meeting between its 27 members the President had a fully worked out strategy. Obama spent the week at the Conference building coalitions against the radical Islamic group and also spelling out a response to Putin’s war threat. He specifically stated publically more than once that an attack upon any NATO member would be treated as an attack against all of them. It seems that even though Ukraine does not belong to the group they will be allowed to join.
Toward ISIS the United States and its allies aim to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the militant group. The process will include NATO and the majority of Islamic states including those that are Sunni. ISIS, he believes, is a threat to all the nations.
Even though the Ukraine and Russia are not technically at war on Saturday, September 6, they agreed to a cease fire agreement and an exchange of prisoners. On Sunday, September 7, the truce is holding in Ukraine with a few violations on both side. Will it break down or end up in some sort of peace settlement?
Congress returns on Monday, September 8, the second week of September from its monthly vacation. What will be their response to President Obama’s requests under the War Powers Act and will they support or ignore the President’s actions. It should be interesting to see what happens. Particularly with an interim election coming up early in November.