Why Bomb?

by Dave Schuler on August 11, 2014

The editors of the LA Times oppose the president’s decision to engage in bomb strikes in Iraq:

We don’t doubt that the president was moved by the suffering the Islamic State has inflicted on the Yazidis and other victims. But the airstrikes can also be interpreted as an attempt to shore up the government of Iraq against an insurgency that Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has helped to foment by excluding Sunnis from the political process. And the president’s other rationale for the airstrikes — to protect Americans — also would justify military action to protect U.S. personnel from an attack on Baghdad. Will the U.S. be able to say no if the Islamic State continues to advance and Maliki or a successor asks for additional airstrikes — or more military advisors? And what if those measures proved unavailing?

When Obama announced in June that he was considering “all options” to help the government in Baghdad fend off the Islamic State insurgency, we argued against a U.S. air campaign in support of the Iraqi government. Distressing and tragic as recent events in Iraq may be, that’s still our advice.

My own view is that if you do not will the means you cannot will the end. Will bombing alone save the Yezidi?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Guarneri August 11, 2014 at 11:17 am


steve August 11, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Bombing plus the pesh merga. Let Iran help Baghdad.


Dave Schuler August 11, 2014 at 7:02 pm

I’m a Kurd skeptic but given a choice between the Kurds and ISIS I’d back the Kurds.

Guarneri August 11, 2014 at 7:23 pm

That seems to be the consensus view (help the Kurds help themselves supported by air power) but is there any evidence it will work?

steve August 11, 2014 at 7:35 pm

They already have half the Yezidis out now since they started bombing if recent reports are correct. (Sounds like they are rescuing some kind of pasta.)


steve August 11, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Maybe we could get the Ukrainians to go help. They seem to know how to fight a bit.


Guarneri August 12, 2014 at 7:04 am

How do you address the threat to the homeland……….in addition to depleting the Middle Easts marinara reserves?

Dave Schuler August 12, 2014 at 7:32 am

Failing to make a decision is itself a decision. In this case it’s a decision to accept the risks.

Guarneri August 12, 2014 at 11:45 am

I think that’s correct. Cross your fingers.

jan August 12, 2014 at 12:29 pm

So now the bickering, of what was the right course of action to take in Syria and other areas of foreign policy, is beginning on the front lines of the democratic party, by having the 2016 presidential frontrunner, HRC, coming out and openly discussing her disagreements with Obama. Basically, Hillary Clinton seems to have done a 180 degree reversal on her solidarity with Obama’s non-action type of foreign policy stances.

In the interview with prominent foreign affairs writer Jeffrey Goldberg, Clinton called Obama’s decision not to back Syrian rebels early on a “failure;” stood staunchly with Israel in its fight against Hamas; took a tough tone on Iran; and said that the West Wing’s foreign policy mantra — “Don’t do stupid stuff”— is “not an organizing principle.”

Obama’s response to her negative, “disloyal” critque was supposedly play two rounds of golf rather than one.

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