Washington, Sep 11 (IANS/EFE) Major US newspapers Thursday expressed doubts on the effectiveness of President Barrack Obama’s plans against the Islamic State (IS) Sunni extremist group in Iraq and Syria, while warning about risks of an extensive military campaign in the Middle East.
“There will be no turning back once airstrikes enter Syrian territory, unleashing events that simply cannot be foreseen. Surely that’s a lesson America has learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the New York Times said in its editorial Thursday.
Obama, in his address to the nation Wednesday night from the White House, said that airstrikes against the IS would be extended to Syria and his government would pursue them “wherever they exist”.
Exactly a year earlier, on Sep 10, 2013, Obama had announced that his government would not intervene in the Syrian civil war despite the use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
“The rise of the Islamic State, or something like it, was a foreseeable consequence of the Syrian conflict, and of the Obama administration’s failure to come to grips with it,” argued the Washington Post in its editorial.
Most of the opinion pieces commenting on Obama’s speech consider the extension of the campaign to Syria as Obama’s surrender before a reality he could not escape, as the conflicts he inherited from George Bush continued and would perhaps be passed on to his successor.
“Any notion of US disengagement from the Middle East is no longer tenable — if it ever was,” said the Washington Post.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in his speech Obama “rejected” the policy he had maintained over the past three years regarding Syria, where he has not intervened until now.
“He (Obama) deserves public support as long as he is willing to fight this war — let’s call it what it is — with more resolve and persistence than he has heretofore shown in his presidency,” said the Journal.
“Let’s hope Mr. Obama is a better war president than he has been an antiwar president,” the newspaper added.
All three newspapers shared the opinion that Congress should share the responsibility of the campaign against IS with Obama, as authorisation from legislators is necessary to launch a mission of such dimensions.
“Right now, opinion polls favour action, but that could evaporate if there are casualties. Many members of Congress would just as soon avoid taking a vote, but Mr. Obama should insist that Congress share responsibility in authorizing the mission,” the New York Times stated.
The three dailies highlighted the difficulties of combating the IS without ground troops or any certainty about how the Iraqi, Kurdish and the opposing moderate Syrian forces would execute their plans.
“This is the weakest part of Mr. Obama’s strategy. He says that his campaign will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to show he’s not George W. Bush, even as he is adopting Mr. Bush’s strategy of fighting terrorists overseas so we don’t have to fight them at home,” the Journal argued.
The Washington Post, however, supported the decision to not send ground troops against the IS, saying “the Islamic State problem cannot and should not be met with an invasion of US ground troops”.
The New York Times wrote that “there is no certainty” that the US’s plan to train and support indigenous groups to combat the IS in Iraq and Syria would succeed.
“Standing in front of the cameras in prime-time, Obama — the man who won the White House in part due to his opposition to the Iraq War — prepared the country to get even more deeply enmeshed in the violent part of the world he has spent much of his presidency trying to get out of,” said the Politico daily, adding “this was the speech President Barack Obama never thought he’d have to give”.