Friday, November 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

How Obama decided on airstrikes in Iraq

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama turns to leave the podium after he spoke about the situation in Iraq in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014. Obama says he's authorized the U.S. military to carry out airstrikes in Iraq against Islamic militants if they advance toward the city of Erbil.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

By
From page A1 | August 09, 2014 |

WASHINGTON — For much of the summer, President Barack Obama had watched with alarm as a brutal, al-Qaida-linked insurgency seized more and more territory in northern Iraq. But it wasn’t until Thursday, when Obama learned that genocide could be imminent, that the president decided the U.S. military had to act.

The vivid reports streaming into the Situation Room that morning from U.S. diplomats and intelligence officials were unsettling, to say the least: Stories of mass executions, women being enslaved as child brides, members of a small religious group trapped on a mountain and potentially dying of thirst. The situation was falling apart — fast.

Then the president, for the first time, was given an assessment that thrust the crisis into an entirely new category.

As one top official put it: “I had not heard the word ‘genocide’ used in the Situation Room before.”

By the time 90-minute meeting ended, it was clear Obama planned to order humanitarian aid to be airdropped to the Yazidis, a religious minority being targeted by the Islamic State militant group. But advisers were still unsure whether Obama would go one step further: airstrikes in Iraq, just three years after the U.S. pulled out from a war that Obama never liked.

___

As a fast-growing Sunni rebellion overran major Iraqi cities in early June, Obama began weighing his options. A U.S. aircraft carrier was ordered into the Persian Gulf, and Obama began dispatching hundreds of special forces to advise Iraqis and protect U.S. personnel.

On one point, Obama was firm: No ground troops would return to Iraq. Yet the prospect of airstrikes hung in the air like an unpleasant smell — Obama was clearly reluctant to take that step, but it could prove critical to preventing a security collapse in Iraq.

___

As the thermometer climbed in July, temperatures were also rising in Washington, where some lawmakers were demanding immediate drone strikes while others were urging the opposite. A top senator threatened to block arms sales to Iraq, and House lawmakers easily passed a resolution to bar Obama from sending forces into Iraq long-term without their go-ahead.

Pentagon leaders were reviewing what assistance might help Iraq’s beleaguered military, while diplomats pressed Iraqi leaders for a political transition that would enfranchise Sunnis and Kurds.

___

Wednesday was a major tipping point. Obama was engrossed in three days of meeting with dozens of African presidents he’d invited to Washington. But roughly 6,000 miles away, the Yazidis were in trouble, having fled to the mountains to escape the extremists.

With Obama at the summit, his team met throughout the day at the White House, where they learned that the Iraqis had tried — and failed — to resupply the Yazidis, who were in dire need of food and water.

The Kurds, America’s closest allies in Iraq, had sought to hold off the extremists. But on Wednesday, the Kurdish militia started falling back, moving precipitously away from Iraq’s largest hydroelectric dam as they sought to consolidate their forces to protect Irbil.

Eventually, insurgents took the dam. If fully breached, the dam could flood major swaths of land, endangering the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, joined Obama for the limo ride back to the White House, where Obama said he knew the Yazidis’ humanitarian crisis must be addressed. Obama had plans to join the first lady at an Italian restaurant, but the Oval Office meeting dragged on. Dinner would have to wait.

___

By Thursday morning, things had only gotten worse. People were fleeing Irbil. Obama made clear he was inclined to approve military action, officials said, but held off on the final decision as he left to sign a veterans bill at a nearby army base. The officials discussed Obama’s decision-making on the condition they not be identified.

Upon his return, Obama met for two hours with his team in the Situation Room, where Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, both abroad, were linked by videoconference. Obama announced he was authorizing two missions: airdrops for the Yazidis, and military strikes in the event Americans were in danger.

___

As dusk fell in Washington, cable news and Twitter were abuzz with reports about U.S. military action in Iraq. Though many were false, the White House didn’t comment, fearing it could jeopardize the first humanitarian drop, which was underway under the cover of night.

Just after 9 p.m., reporters were hastily summoned to the State Dining Room, where a stoic Obama spoke to the nation.

“When many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out, and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action,” Obama said.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • PornacAugust 09, 2014 - 7:04 am

    Not disclosed here is the discussion on getting the media and congress to talk about something besides benghazi.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rudy MadronichAugust 09, 2014 - 7:05 am

    How did he decide to launch air strikes on Iraq. Its very simple his poll numbers are in the dirt.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Giving thanks, ‘even in this broken world,’ on Thursday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Solano Turkey Trot draws 2,600 to college

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Early Black Friday shoppers take advantage of deals

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Il Fiorello schedules olive milling day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
.

US / World

‘Guardian angel,’ community join to give man home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US celebrates Thanksgiving with parades, turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Tons of marijuana seized in Central California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Gorilla death prompts San Francisco Zoo changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Health agents still unpaid after plan’s rollout

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
California Burger King employee finds $100,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Researchers discover ‘pre-cancers’ in blood

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
At 1 month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Families asked to host visitors for pope’s US trip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
35 arrested in Oakland after protest march

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

A glance at Ferguson: Then, now and the future

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
For some, location of Brown’s hands irrelevant

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Ferguson gives thanks after a quiet night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Colorado mastodon bones show ancient warmer Earth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Queen of crime writing PD James dies aged 94

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Taliban attack rocks upscale Kabul district

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Small quake rattles California wine country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Living

Movies just another course on Thanksgiving

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
.

Entertainment

Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2′ doesn’t work

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

 
Review: ‘Madagascar’ spin-off hatches family fun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Singer John Mayer among ‘Late Late Show’ subs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cosby testimony describes accuser’s spiked story

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Sherman’s big night leads Seattle past 49ers again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Rookie quarterback Carr is Raiders’ silver lining

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

US cities urged to keep price tags down for 2024

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Eagles roll over Cowboys 33-10 for NFC East lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

5 investigated in FIFA WCup bid corruption probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Johnson shines in Detroit’s 34-17 win over Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

No. 9 UCLA must overcome Stanford for Pac-12 title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Kia’s ‘Soulful’ first electric car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Automakers aim to drive away car computer hackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

OPEC keeps oil output on hold despite low prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
3 Reasons holiday shoppers will spend cautiously

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Esther Ringler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
‘Chipper’ Douglas Lee Anderson Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Deanna L. Haines

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8