Iraq airstrikes: You read the news, now get the context

August 8, 2014

Relatives mourn the death of a Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighter, killed during clashes with Islamic State fighters in the Iraqi city of Rabia on the Iraqi-Syrian border, during his funeral in Ras al-Ain

Once you read the latest news about the U.S. airstrikes and humanitarian drops in Iraq, turn to commentary for the context you need to fully understand what is happening and how we got here. Here is a quick tour:

You can start with incisive background from Spencer Ackerman, national security editor at the Guardian. He provides additional framework for the Obama administration’s decision to use air power. It’s about far more than protecting U.S. advisers in Irbil, Ackerman says. He lays out why the White House felt compelled to protect the pro-U.S. Kurds against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). Ackerman then looks at the possible military hardware involved. His reporting continues today with Dan Roberts here.

While you’re on the Guardian site, read the explainer about the Yazidis, the Iraqi religious minority sect besieged atop Mount Sinjar.

Ezra Klein at Vox argues that President Barack Obama badly underestimated ISIS. Klein pivots off an Obama quote from New Yorker Editor David Remnick’s remarkable interview with the president “Going the Distance,” in January.

airstrikeWhen you’re at the New Yorker site, read John Cassidy on Obama’s ‘Limited’ Mission in Iraq.” Obama is extremely reluctant to get entangled in Iraq again, Cassidy writes after the Thursday night announcement, though the president is being “studiously ambiguous” about the scope of the current U.S. mission.

Back at Vox, Klein is also parsing Obama’s grammar rigorously. In The most important sentence in Obama’s statement on Iraq,” Klein says Obama is making a “legal case for this war” while “sharply limiting its scope” by stating, “We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide.”

Max Fisher, meanwhile, demonstrates why the Iraqi army is “largely a failure.” For one thing, ISIL is using U.S. weapons captured from fleeing Iraqi troops: “The U.S. bombing its own guns perfectly sums up America’s total failure in Iraq.

For more context, don’t forget Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, for his Back to Iraq: Blog Reax II. While you are there, read a young Kurd’s first-person account of ISIS to glimpse the group’s brutality.



PHOTO (TOP): Relatives mourn the death of a Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighter, who was killed during clashes with Islamic State fighters in the Iraqi city of Rabia on the Iraqi-Syrian border, during his funeral in Ras al-Ain city in Syria’s Hasakah province August 6, 2014. REUTERS/Rodi Said

PHOTO (INSERT): Smoke rises following a U.S. airstrike in northern Iraq. REUTERS/via Reuters TV





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Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Global Think Tank) ~ “Corruption: The Unrecognized Threat to International Security” –

Posted by donalds | Report as abusive

The bush/Cheney/GOP chickens come home to roost. Who could possibly have seen that coming?

Posted by SunnyDaySam | Report as abusive

[During a five-minute limo ride back to the White House from the State Department with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey, Obama’s fears were confirmed. The offensive by militants with the Islamic State group had reached a critical point, according to an administration official who asked for anonymity to outline the private discussions.]  /obama-s-iraq-decision-followed-limo-ri de-with-general-dempsey.html

Seriously, maybe this leaser’s mind sought refuge in too much fund raising, too many photo ops.

Posted by SaveRMiddle | Report as abusive