The Mitterhoff Address: Obama’s almost-war in Iraq

President Obama outlined Wednesday night a strategy to help combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a terrorist group operating in the Middle East that is behind the beheading of two American journalists, through airstrikes in Syria and the deployment of military advisers to Iraq.

“ISIL poses a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and the broader Middle East – including American citizens, personnel and facilities,” Obama said in remarks televised from the White House. “If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States.

“While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies,” he continued.

Obama laid his plan out in four parts. First, he plans to take out airstrikes against ISIL targets in the Middle East. Second, he wants to increase the number of noncombat military personnel operating in Iraq by 475. Third, the administration will continue to use counterterrorism efforts to try and prevent attacks by ISIL. Last, Obama plans to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians displaced from homes by ISIL attacks.

Obama chose to distance his strategy from the ones used in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush presidency and the beginning of his.

“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground.”

According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll published Tuesday, 91 percent of Americans say that they see ISIL as a major threat to the interests of the United States. 71 percent of Americans say they support airstrikes against Sunni insurgents in Iraq, and 65 percent say they support strikes against Sunni targets in Syria.

I can’t help but agree with them. These claims of the threat ISIL poses are not only coming from our government, they are coming from the messages sent by ISIL through the beheading of journalists and through rhetoric used to menace the U.S. The Obama administration is taking the right, and fortunately for Obama, popular steps towards defeating ISIL.