And foreign policy is hard—especially now. Almost nobody gets even a small fraction of what they want out of it.NY Times:
That said, the relentless criticism of Obama's approach toward ISIS strikes me as unusually shortsighted. As near as I can tell, he's handled it almost perfectly so far. If we had offered air support to destroy ISIS six months or a year ago, it probably would have made things worse. Iraq flatly wasn't able to provide the ground troops to complement an air campaign, and America would have shared in the inevitable fiasco. We also would have been explicitly bound to Nouri al-Maliki and his policies, which were the very ones responsible for the rise of ISIS in the first place. The outcome of all this would have been the worst of all possible worlds for American interests.
The United States has begun to mobilize a broad coalition of allies behind potential American military action in Syria and is moving toward expanded airstrikes in northern Iraq, administration officials said on Tuesday.Picking and choosing his spots is exactly what you want from a president. On the other hand, trigger happy Republicans caused this problem in the first place by invading Iraq. Don't pay any attention to them when they whine about a gazillion things they think should be done now, none of them right.
President Obama, the officials said, was broadening his campaign against the Sunni militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and nearing a decision to authorize airstrikes and airdrops of food and water around the northern Iraqi town of Amerli, home to members of Iraq’s Turkmen minority. The town of 12,000 has been under siege for more than two months by the militants.
“Rooting out a cancer like ISIL won’t be easy and it won’t be quick,” Mr. Obama said in a speech on Tuesday to the American Legion in Charlotte, N.C., using an alternative name for ISIS. He said the United States was building a coalition to “take the fight to these barbaric terrorists,” and that the militants would be “no match” for a united international community.
More politics and policy below the fold.
Zack Beauchamp sets the record straight:
While you may have heard that American inaction since its withdrawal from Iraq has been important in helping ISIS, that pales in comparison to the contribution of the invasion itself. A residual American force in Iraq may have been able to help blunt ISIS' Iraqi offensive in June 2014, and US bombing of ISIS targets in Syria might have weakened the group somewhat. But the predominant causes of ISIS's rise in the two countries — internal Iraqi politics and the Syrian civil war itself — couldn't be solved through American military action.Zack Beauchamp again:
ISIS is awful. Allying with Assad to fight it would be worse.NY Times:
After 50 days of fighting that took some 2,200 lives, leveled large areas of the Gaza Strip and paralyzed Israel’s south for the summer, Israeli and Palestinian leaders reached an open-ended cease-fire agreement on Tuesday that promised only limited change to conditions in Gaza and left unresolved the broader issues underpinning the conflict.NY Times:
Hamas, the militant Islamist faction that dominates Gaza, declared victory even though it had abandoned most of its demands, ultimately accepting an Egyptian-brokered deal that differs little from one proffered on the battle’s seventh day. In effect, the deal put both sides back where they were at the end of eight days of fighting in 2012, with terms that called for easing but not lifting Israeli restrictions on travel, trade and fishing in Gaza.
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia held inconclusive talks late Tuesday with the president of Ukraine, extending a reluctant hand to a new leadership vilified in Russia’s state-run news media as the fruit of a fascist putsch. Hours earlier, Ukraine released videos of captured Russian soldiers that directly challenged Mr. Putin’s longstanding claim that his country has nothing to do with the conflict in eastern Ukraine.Gee, reading these stories you might think the world is having a better week compared to last.
Must read of the day is David Frum on what's really driving GOP policy:
Boomers’ conservatism is founded on their apprehension that there’s not enough to go around -- and on their conviction that what little resources there are should accrue to them. Over the first Obama term, polls recorded a big jump in the proportion of those 50 and older expressing concern about “government becoming too involved in healthcare”: eight points among those 65 and older and 16 points among those between 50 and 64. It might seem paradoxical that people on Medicare, or soon to qualify for it, would oppose a further expansion of the government’s role in health care, but it actually makes perfect sense: boomer conservatives fear that government in the age of Obama will serve somebody else’s interests at the expense of their own.Just a reminder that Republicans are just as unserious about domestic policy as they are on foreign policy. Editorial Board, NY Times:
Republicans have responded to boomers’ fears by reinventing themselves as defenders of the fiscal status quo for older Americans -- and only older Americans. In 2005, Bush proposed bold reforms to Social Security, including privatization. But since 2008, the GOP has rejected changes to retirement programs that might in any way impinge on current beneficiaries. The various budget plans Republicans produced in the run-up to the 2012 election all exempted Americans over age 55 from any changes to either Social Security or Medicare.
More than four years ago, while announcing his campaign for governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo stood in front of the Tweed Courthouse in downtown Manhattan and said Albany’s antics “could make Boss Tweed blush.”
New York had had enough corruption, he said, and he was going to put a stop to it. “Job 1 is going to be to clean up Albany,” he said, “and make the government work for the people.”
Mr. Cuomo became governor on that platform and recorded several impressive achievements, but he failed to perform Job 1. The state government remains as subservient to big money as ever, and Mr. Cuomo resisted and even shut down opportunities to fix it. Because he broke his most important promise, we have decided not to make an endorsement for the Democratic primary on Sept. 9.