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Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

Obama proposes broader long-term strategy in Iraq

By Darlene Superville, Associated Press

Published: Sat, Aug. 9 11:29 a.m. MDT

 President Barack Obama speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, about the ongoing situation in Iraq before his departure on Marine One for a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. Obama said that airstrikes he ordered in northern Iraq have destroyed arms and equipment held by Islamic State forces whose rapid advance has surpassed U.S. intelligence estimates.

President Barack Obama speaks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, about the ongoing situation in Iraq before his departure on Marine One for a vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. Obama said that airstrikes he ordered in northern Iraq have destroyed arms and equipment held by Islamic State forces whose rapid advance has surpassed U.S. intelligence estimates.

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Saturday proposed a broader long-term strategy to confront Islamic militants in Iraq, who have surprised U.S. intelligence with the fast pace of their approach on the Kurdish capital of Irbil.

Obama warned Americans that the new campaign to bring security in Iraq requires military and political changes and "is going to be a long-term project." He wouldn't give a timetable for how long the U.S. military involvement would last, saying it depends on Iraq's political efforts.

"I don't think we are going to solve this problem in weeks," Obama said. "I think this is going to take some time."

The president said Iraqi security forces need to revamp to effectively mount an offensive, which requires a government in Baghdad that the Iraqi military and people have confidence in. Obama said Iraq needs a prime minister — an indication that he believes he's written off the legitimacy of the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki.

Obama said he won't close the U.S. Embassy or the Irbil consulate, which means American troops and diplomats will remain on the ground who will need protecting. He said where U.S. personnel are threatened, it's his obligation as commander in chief to protect them.

The president said humanitarian efforts continue to airdrop food and water to persecuted religious minorities stranded on a mountaintop, and he said planning was underway for how to get them down.

Obama made his comments and took a few questions from reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, just before boarding Marine One for his summer vacation in Massachusetts.

He went back inside for his wife, Michelle, and daughter Malia, and then quickly departed for Martha's Vineyard. The White House did not immediately reply to inquiries about younger daughter Sasha's whereabouts.

Obama sharply rejected the premise that it was his decision to pull out from Iraq and said it was because Iraqis didn't want U.S. troops there.

He repeated that the U.S. is not going to have us combat troops in Iraq again. "We are going to maintain that because we should have learned a lesson from our long and immensely costly incursion into Iraq," Obama said.

The president said there's "no doubt" the Islamic State advance on the Kurdish capital of Irbil "has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates."

U.S. military jets launched several airstrikes Friday on isolated targets, including two mortar positions and a vehicle convoy. U.S. officials announced Friday night the second airdrop of food and water in as many days for the imperiled refugees.

Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Erica Werner, and Nedra Pickler in Edgartown, Massachusetts, contributed to this report.

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1. Iron Rod
Salt Lake City, UT,
Aug. 9, 2014

A question for our conservative readers.

Did our intervention in Iraq cause the Iraqi people to be more vulnerable?

Was the benefits of Saddam's departure worth the problems we have today?

Which do you think was better a secular government under Saddam or an Islamist or extremist government under ISIS?

Tell me truthfully was the invasion a colossal blunder?

2. A1994
Centerville, UT,
Aug. 9, 2014

@Iron Rod

The Iraqi people would be butchered regardless. But from an American national security standpoint, it would probably be better to have a stable dictatorship. But ultimately, your question is pointless because that's not where we are anymore. You can only deal with the here and now. The real question is whether Obama will use the necessary force to destroy (not contain) ISIS. If he does, he might actually have a legacy. My guess is that he won't.

3. fani
wj, UT,
Aug. 9, 2014

"Obama said he won't close the U.S. Embassy or the Irbil consulate, which means American troops and diplomats will remain on the ground who will need protecting. He said where U.S. personnel are threatened, it's his obligation as commander in chief to protect them."

These are all good unless our US personnel contradicts the political talking points, then they will be left to fend for themselves, does Benghazi ring a bell?

4. Iron Rod
Salt Lake City, UT,
Aug. 9, 2014

RE A 1994
Centerville, UT

Why is it so hard for people to admit that they were wrong about the Iraqi invasion?

"But ultimately, your question is point less because that's not where we are anymore. You can only deal with the here and now."

Many people simply do not want to talk about it because they would like it to go away.
Their response is similar "Oh it is old news"

Plain and simple we were fooled into attacking Iraq. It is highly important that this not happen again. Look at the drum beat for attacking Iran from the same groups.

We need to acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them.