4:01 PM, Aug 21, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Ever since President Obama pulled forces out of Iraq, he has been unequivocal in his statements about "boots on the ground" in that country. As recently as August 7, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that the "President has also made clear that American military action in Iraq would not include combat boots on the ground. That is a principle that the President laid out at the beginning and that continues to be true today."
However, in remarks Wednesday to U.S. troops in Guam, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work twice qualified the president's words with "right now," saying "Do I think we're going to have boots on the ground[?] The president's been very clear, right now, no," and a short time later, "So right now, the president's been very clear, no boots on the ground."
Work was responding to a question about ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and Iraq from a soldier in the audience at an event at Apra Harbor, Guam. The following are excerpts from Work's reply [emphasis added]:
Well, all I can say on this is this is the biggest debate that's going on inside Washington D.C. right now. Okay, everybody knows that ISIL is -- these are about the worst guys that we've come up against. I mean, they're so bad that Al Qaeda you know, said, we don't like these guys anymore. You know if Al Qaeda says (Inaudible).
So not only are they terrorists, but they're pretty good light infantry. They know how to do combined arms. They -- one of the things that makes them so effective is they have a lot of equipment that they've gotten from the Iraqi army, they've captured from the Iraqi army and the Syrian army. They're very, very fast. They've got a very flat command and control structure, and they have good combined arms.
And so they move quickly, and they're very bold. I mean, they're quite effective with their tactical -- at the tactical level...
In the end though, we're going to have to confront ISIL. Do I think we're going to have boots on the ground. The president's been very clear, right now, no. And if we can find good partners, having the government of Iraq, having (inaudible), who's stepped down, having a new unity government. That's going to be a big deal, because the president as said when we have a good partner we will consider doing more in support of them.
KRG forces, the Peshmerga, they've already proved to be quite capable on the battlefield as long as they have the weapons. They can stand up to ISIL. But we can talk with Turkey. We can talk with Jordan. We can talk to Saudi Arabia. We can talk to a lot of different partners, and we have to address this as a regional issue.
So right now, the president's been very clear, no boots on the ground. But we've already started to support our government of Iraq, our partners, using airpower.
When asked, based on Work's comments, under what conditions the U.S. might put boots on the ground in Iraq, William Speaks of the defense department's Public Affairs office responded via email, "We would not speculate on something like that."
President Obama did not specifically address future actions by the U.S. military in Iraq in his remarks Wednesday regarding the murder of photojournalist James Foley by ISIL, saying only that the United States "will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless."
Following the president's remarks, the Wire reported that the National Security Council announced more airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. White House pool reports said that the president himself went golfing.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:45 PM, Aug 20, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on President Obama's comments on the horrific killing of American journalist James Foley by Islamic terror group ISIS.
2:45 PM, Aug 20, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
The president is appalled. Indeed he said this afternoon that "the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL." The act of violence that killed Jim Foley, the president continued, "shocks the conscience of the entire world."
11:54 AM, Aug 20, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Here are the two best responses I've seen so far to the latest barbarism from ISIS.
My friend Seth Leibsohn, now a talk radio host in Phoenix, emails with a short-term suggestion:
Terror group singles out Stephen Sotloff.7:27 PM, Aug 19, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
The Islamic State’s official media arm, Furqan Media, has just released a video showing the beheading of American photojournalist James Wright Foley. The terrorist organization claims that the murder of an American citizen who went missing in Syria in 2012 comes as a warning to the White House to end its “intervention” in Iraq. If not, the video claims, ISIS will kill another U.S. journalist, Stephen Joel Sotloff.
7:14 PM, Aug 19, 2014 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot, has released a grisly video of one of its fighters beheading a man who appears to be James Foley, an American journalist who was kidnapped in Syria on Thanksgiving Day 2012. The images from the video are horrifying, as they are intended to be.
5:33 PM, Aug 19, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Yesterday Pope Francis endorsed military action to stop the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) from persecuting religious minorities, especially Christ
2:48 PM, Aug 15, 2014 • By JOSH COHEN
It was a threat Europe’s security services had long feared coming true.
11:26 AM, Aug 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The tide may have temporarily turned in Iraq, as the administration is saying. But the long view regarding ISIS is somewhere between challenging and bleak. As Greg Jaffe and Greg Miller of the Washington Post report:
8:07 AM, Aug 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Western nations should intervene militarily in Iraq to stop ISIS, argues Max Boot in a new article for the Spectator (UK). Boot cautions against the "wrong-headed" belief that intervention, not the retreat of Western forces, is the cause of the current problems in Iraq:
1:11 PM, Aug 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama went directly from giving remarks on Iraq and the ongoing situation in Ferguson, Missouri to the golf course.
"That didn't take long," tweeted White House reporter Jonathan Karl, "@BarackObama has arrived at a golf course here in Edgartown."
8:41 AM, Aug 14, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
The American Enterprise Institute will hold a Google Hangout Thursday morning, at 9:30 Eastern Time, with scholars Fred Kagan and Michael Rubin about the state of affairs in Iraq. Here are more details from AEI:
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) continues to seize control of vast swaths of territory in northern and western Iraq. Last week, ISIS’s takeover of the Mosul Dam was almost dwarfed by the militant group’s blitz of several cities that are home to thousands of US military personnel.
11:24 AM, Aug 12, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Air power can do only so much. As Jon Harper of Stars and Stripes reports, Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr., director of operations for the Joint Staff, told reporters:
10:20 AM, Aug 12, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
David Axelrod appears to be responding to Hillary Clinton's criticism of President Obama by reminding everyone of the future presidential candidate's support for the Iraq war. Obama, of course, was against the war from the beginning.
"Just to clarify," Axelrod said on Twitter, "'Don't do stupid stuff' means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision."