Iraq: Obama Weighs His Options

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The jacket belonging to an Iraqi Army uniform lies on the ground in front of the remains of a burnt out Iraqi army vehicle some 10km of east of the northern city of Mosul, on June 11, 2014. (SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty)

President Obama met with Congressional leaders yesterday to outline the scope of violence in Iraq, and what the US should do in response. Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, and David Sanger, New York Times national security correspondent and author of Confront and Conceal (Broadway, 2013), talk about the range of options, from more personnel on the ground to air strikes and diplomatic pressures.


Rami Khouri and David Sanger

Comments [27]

Leon from East Harlem

OBAMA F&%Kin' SUCKS !!!! And is this coming from an Ivy League-educated liberal African-American living in Harlem. I voted for him twice hoping he would fix the messes Bush left us. To my dismay, Obama has made things even worse:

- We now have to go back to Iraq to finally vanquish the enemy once and for all (whoever "the enemy" is)
- The ACA is a total disaster despite the spin the WH puts on it. 7M insured? BS! 5M are Medicare and 2M are business owner booted off they original plans. Moreover, the Exchange plans are inferior to non-exchange plans (e.g., Empire Pathway bought on the NY Insurance Exchange covers only ONE hospital in Manhattan--Lenox Hill.)
- Gitmo is STILL open
- Wall St. got away with murder and Obama's Justice Department as done nothing
- Deportation of "illegals" is higher than all other president combined
- Except for Manhattan construction jobs, the job market is in the tank
- Housing foreclosures still at all-time highs
- Income growth slowest since 1965
- People who thought they were going to retire at 65 now have to work well beyond that
- New college grads can't find descent jobs; Georgetown Law grads can find jobs
- Taxes are higher than ever, yet the domestic and foreign debt continues to rise
- Fracking is ruining our fresh water supply for a little exchange natural gas--which is a more powerful global warming agent than CO2
- China is grabbing the natural resources from Africa and land spacecraft on the moon
- Russia is rebuilding the Soviet Union, and Russia is the only "airline" that flies to the ISS
- And Afghanistan is still a mess with no end in see
- The 9/11 Memorial is disgrace
- The NSA spies on American citizens, and our "allies"

Nice fuckin' job, Barack.

Jun. 19 2014 12:18 PM
Amy from Manhattan

NYCitizen, both sides of Islam have their extremist elements, but both also have moderate believers. That's also part of the history & theology you refer to, yet you ignore or even deny it.

Jun. 19 2014 11:02 AM
Ed from Larchmont

This ISIS group is as vicious as the Nazis were, they have to be fought in every way possible, or many people will be killed.

Jun. 19 2014 10:47 AM
john from office

Becky speaks the truth.

May be best to let them sort this out on their own.

Jun. 19 2014 10:33 AM

Brian, you are amazing. You managed to turned the segment into a Paul-bash. Shameful. BTW Ron?Rand Paul are not interventionists...

Jun. 19 2014 10:33 AM
mb from nyc

Brian - re Rand Paul's Iraq non-stance "sneak over" - you let your partisan views leak through too often. You would not use this language to describe a Democrat.

Jun. 19 2014 10:33 AM
Bobby G from East Village

The battle of Baghdad is coming. Should we be in that war? If we bomb the fanatic ISIS we are at war with them with forever blowback repercussions. Who's side should we take? The Maliki, Iranian Shiite side? What the ISIS, unrealistically aspire to is a caliphate in parts of Syria and Iran. They are not at war with us unless we start it. As was warned on The Wire about war, "Once you in it you in it. Doesn't matter how it started." And besides, who is really gaining in the power relations in the region? Not us. The side to take is the Kurds which is to stay out. There is no winning for us to be this war. Stay out.

It will be a brutal war, but it will be their brutality not ours. What we should do is have a humanitarian surge to help all the refugees and get our own energy policies in order because the price of oil is going to skyrocket.

Jun. 19 2014 10:32 AM
The Truth from Becky

Until the END OF THE WORLD - There will NEVER be peace in the middle east.

Jun. 19 2014 10:31 AM
The Truth from Becky

There will NEVER be peace in the middle east.

Jun. 19 2014 10:30 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The guests referred to ISIS's successes in moving through Sunni areas of Iraq in a way that sounded as if the Sunni population supported them. Do they, & if so, do they know about the extreme form of Islamic law ISIS has been imposing? How much access to this kind of information do they, through mainstream & social media?

Jun. 19 2014 10:29 AM

It's all ISRAEL'S fault !!!

No, really!

The ISIS force is really the Mossad dressed in caftans.

Jun. 19 2014 10:29 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

As long as we no longer really need Middle Eastern oil as we did a decade ago, and this doesn't threaten Israel or the US directly, there is no reason to intervene. There is no strategic threat to the US or to Israel in this Iraqi civil war situation, so why even think about getting back in?

Jun. 19 2014 10:29 AM
John from NYC

The countries of the Middle East will not find peace, and will not enter the modern world until:

- It peoples recognize themselves as modern enlightenment people, and not identify with their “tribes”

- Adopt the principles of religious tolerance.

Europe endured the 100 years war and the 30 years war until it did this.

Post modernists today disparage Europe, the enlightenment, and modernism. Now we see what the world is like without these.

All of the “political,” “oil” etc. analysis is irrelevant until these two things happen.

Jun. 19 2014 10:26 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The Middle East has always been in turmoil, even in Ottoman times. Just look up "1517 Safed Attacks" as just one example.

Jun. 19 2014 10:23 AM
C.E. Connelly from Manhattan

Wow, Rami Khouri's analysis is the first rational and clear-eyed discussion of the recent problems in Iraq that I have heard.

Jun. 19 2014 10:21 AM
Rick from Connecticut

The sad thing is that the Iraqi election chose Malaki, who had a sectarian base instead of Ayad Alawi, who was a Shiite with a large Sunni base and could have unified the country, he lost the race by a hair.

Jun. 19 2014 10:17 AM


We aren't paying the price of Bush's mistakes as much as those of Mr. Sykes and Mr. Picot.

Jun. 19 2014 10:16 AM
John A

Saying that the controllling the status of a country 7 thousand (I don't have the exact number) miles away is 'protecting the interests of the United States' is to make a de facto declaration of world domination. That makes Me uncomfortable, and I'm not the one that'll get the bombing.
Thanks again for reminding all of the incitement of global strikes.

Jun. 19 2014 10:14 AM
Dave From NorthEast Bronx

The alliance of importance here is the one created when power was snatched from the Sunnis in 2003 and handed over to the Shiites. Natural, the Shiites gravitated towards their kinfolk in Iran. Anything of sustance that we do from this point on will involve Iran in some form or another as they will feel inclined to help/protect their brethren in Bagdad.

This is what happens when you go on misadventures without knowing the dynamics of what you are doing.

Jun. 19 2014 10:14 AM
Logic from NJ

This is a very complicated situation. The questions we should ask ourselves are; What is the benefit to the United States to get involved again in Iraq? If we do not get involved what affect will there be on Israel and other friends of the United States in the region? Can we afford to put troops on the ground again in Iraq with our volunteer army? Should we bring back the draft and just have an all out ground war? Should we just use tactical nuclear devices and forget the whole thing? All of you side line leaders, generals, armchair warriors what is your vote that we should do?

Jun. 19 2014 10:14 AM
NYCitizen from NYC

Makes no sense to save Iraq from Sunni Islam by doing the
work of Iran and Shiite Islam.

From a Humanist perspective, both side of Islam are horrifying.

Will WNYC ever bring on a guest to discuss the history and theology
behind the sectarian violence affecting Lebnaon, Syria, and Iraq?

Jun. 19 2014 10:11 AM
Seth Pecksniff

Obama may as well be playing golf -- there is nothing to be done here. Countries in the mideast will only respect peace if they make it themselves. They may have to kill most of each other first, but peace cannot be imposed on anyone.

Playing golf is the best way to get less government, unless anyone thinks we need more govt???

Jun. 19 2014 10:10 AM

“The Pace of Obama's Disasters” – WALL STREET JOURNAL

“At least the White House has ruled out military cooperation with Iran. But give it time.”

“America's retreat needn't end in tragedy, and even the Obama presidency is a survivable event. But the strategic blunders and international disasters are accumulating at an unsustainable pace. This is what the real post-American world looks like.”

Jun. 19 2014 10:09 AM

The Arabs and tribesmen generally are far more clever than a superpower will ever be. They must think 40 and 400 years in the future. And their tactical and philosophical mistakes are ignored -- their victory is continuing to breathe. The English and the Russians are far more interested in Arab machinations and they bailed. Didn't Obama learn this, if not from the Engish and Russians, than from B/43?

Jun. 19 2014 10:05 AM

Don't you want to change the title to "Valerie Jarrett Weighs Her Options'?

.... since the "Little Guy" spent the weekend on a golf trip and the first part of the week in a whirlwind of fund raisers.

Jun. 19 2014 10:04 AM

"Ask me in the future if Iraq was a good idea." -- Bush, 2003

Can someone him up on that invitation already?

Jun. 19 2014 09:57 AM

"Obama evidently now thinks that a de facto alliance with Iran—Iran!—is the way to close those doors, but such an alliance would only guarantee that they would open even wider than they are now. It would also solidify Iran’s influence over Iraq while giving a green light to an Iranian nuclear bomb.
The problem is that doing those things would require Barack Obama to acknowledge that his policies are exposing us to an infinitely greater danger.
In my opinion–and I express it with fear and trembling–it would take something close to a miracle for Obama to undergo so radical a change of heart and mind. God help us."

Jun. 19 2014 09:55 AM

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