With crisis again gripping Iraq, President Barack Obama finds his foreign policy for the Middle East under question from the right, the left and even his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
It’s no surprise that national security hawks like Sen. John McCain think Obama isn’t committing enough firepower against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terrorist army threatening Kurdistan with conquest and religious minorities with genocide. Nor was it unexpected that liberals like Sen. Dick Durbin would immediately fret about escalation of the U.S. military involvement in a country where so many American lives were lost in a war the public has written off as a bad cause.
But the chattering classes were abuzz about Clinton’s remarks, in an interview with Atlantic magazine, that Obama’s “failure” to arm more moderate rebels in Syria years ago cleared the way for jihadists to flock to ISIS to tear Iraq apart. And, she said, that administration quip “don’t do stupid stuff” is not an “organizing principle” worthy of a great nation.
After former Obama political adviser David Alexrod slapped back with a tweet reminding Clinton of her Senate vote for invading Iraq, the possible, probable, likely, certain — you pick the adjective — 2016 presidential candidate back-pedaled. According to her staff, she called “Obama to make sure he knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies, or his leadership.” Then, what was it? Now her position sounds about as muddled as Obama’s Mideast policy.
It was painful to watch the president last week do something he clearly didn’t want to do, announce airstrikes against the ISIS forces on the march in northern Iraq. His presidency was predicated on one guiding principle — getting out of Iraq. Now events have forced him to act to safeguard U.S. personnel in the Kurdish capital of Irbil threatened by ISIS and to airdrop food and other relief supplies to perhaps as many as 40,000 Yazidis who had fled to Mount Sinjar to escape mass murder by an ISIS that believes their obscure religion is an affront to Islam.