Based on current reports, the US air strikes may have prevented ISIS from overrunning Kobani though that is still to be decided.
To his credit, Obama exempted the strikes from the collateral damage regs that caused the Taliban to win in Afghanistan, because it was presumably explained to him that there was no point in even bothering otherwise. That frees up the military to fight to win, instead of fighting to win hearts and minds.
Bringing A-10s and Apaches into the game is riskier and amounts to more direct combat that will have a high risk of costing American lives, but at least does show commitment. But wars are often lost at the decision making level.
And the question is who is running the war. Is it the military or the usual White House mix of staffers?
Kurds had hoped that US airstrikes in Syria would save them. But as of late Tuesday, airstrikes appeared to be too little too late. Some suspect that’s partly because every target must be vetted by lawyers in Washington, a process meant to assure that strikes are legally justified but is nevertheless cumbersome in practice.
That’s from a Boston Globe editorial, not exactly a right wing paper. So how cumbersome is the approval process? The Wall Street Journal ran a story claiming that Obama would seek approval of every air strike.
The U.S. military campaign against Islamist militants in Syria is being designed to allow President Barack Obama to exert a high degree of personal control, going so far as to require that the military obtain presidential signoff for strikes in Syrian territory, officials said. The requirements for strikes in Syria against the extremist group Islamic State will be far more stringent than those targeting it in Iraq, at least at first. U.S. officials say it is an attempt to limit the threat the U.S. could be dragged more deeply into the Syrian civil war. Defense officials said that the strikes in Syria are more likely to look like a targeted counterterrorism campaign than a classic military campaign, in which a combatant commander picks targets within the parameters set by the commander in chief. In Syria, officials said the administration wants to ensure that any strikes didn’t resemble the “shock-and-awe” campaign that kicked off the 2003 Iraq war and instead be kept more like the low-intensity, occasional strikes conducted in Somalia or Yemen.
An LA Times story mentioned that Obama’s approval was delaying a target list being put into action.
Hagel denied the claim that Obama was looking for personal approval of every strike, but it’s still not clear how streamlined the process is.
Charles Krauthammer had commented, saying that, “Lyndon Johnson, who had a lot more experience, was also the one who directed air strikes… and there was universal agreement that it was a catastrophe. And Obama, with zero experience, having now gone against his secretary of defense and generals on Iraq and on Syria — to a disastrous effect — is going to be in charge of the air campaign? That’s really scary stuff.”
ISIS doesn’t need to get approval from Doha or Istanbul for every attack. The military needs to have the freedom to act or we’ll be right back in the Afghanistan quagmire.