Obama offers no time limit on Iraq military action
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Saturday refused to give a time limit on America's renewed military involvement in Iraq, saying he doesn't think “we are going to solve this problem in weeks” as the country struggles to form a new government.
“I think this is going to take some time,” he said at the White House before departing for a vacation on Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast.
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.”
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 suggests he's written off the legitimacy of the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki.
Obama said he will not close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or the consulate in Irbil, which means American troops and diplomats will remain on the ground. He said he is obligated as commander in chief to protect U.S. personnel wherever and whenever they are threatened.
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 said he spoke to French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday morning about joint humanitarian efforts and that both expressed strong support for his actions.
Cameron's office said the British Royal Air Force will start dropping supplies for the estimated 50,000 to 150,000 people trapped on Mount Sinjar.
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 on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.
“I'm ready to not have a suit on for a while,” Obama told reporters as he headed back into the White House before boarding the helicopter.
The president repeated that the U.S. will not have U.S. 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.
He dismissed the suggestion that the new military action in Iraq might cause him to regret pulling out troops in the first place. He said the departure of U.S. troops was the Iraqi government's call because it failed to agree to legal immunity for American forces, which was the condition for them to stay.
Obama said that even if U.S. troops had remained, their presence would not have made much of a difference if the Iraqi government had followed the same political course of failing to incorporate the Sunni minority.
“The only difference is we would have a bunch of troops on the ground that would be vulnerable,” Obama said.
“So that entire analysis is bogus and is wrong, but gets frequently peddled around here by folks who oftentimes are trying to defend previous policies that they themselves made,” Obama said.
But in as much as Iraqi leaders couldn't agree on immunity for U.S. forces, Obama also badly wanted U.S. troops out of Iraq to fulfill a campaign pledge.
The president said there's “no doubt” the Islamic State's advance on Irbil “has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates.” But he said the airstrikes have destroyed the militants' arms and equipment.
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.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Tickets let players bring home bacon — scent
- Executive order directs standards to reflect climate change projections
- Day, night 4-digit drawings match
- Mideast-North Africa category considered for 2020 Census
- Teen girl Hernandez killed by Denver police once cited for resisting arrest
- Alpha to idle two West Virginia coal mines
- Judge orders nonprofit tax form release in case against IRS
- Former GOP nominee Romney will not run for president in ’16
- Former Idaho National Guard soldier’s benefits claims yield indictment
- Rock pythons creep into Everglades
- Homeland chief says cuts over immigration puts U.S. at risk