When did this happen? Wasn’t the entire Obama Presidency supposed to be built on the foundation of no more American soldiers in Iraq? Why are US soldiers fighting (and dying) in Iraq again? Oh wait, the President says it wasn’t his fault…
Pentagon officials are “saddened” by the first American death in the ground fight against ISIS in Iraq, press secretary Peter Cook told reporters Thursday…
A senior U.S. defense official said the service member was shot in a gunfight. The Pentagon said he died after receiving medical care, and no other Americans were hurt.
“A mass atrocity was averted,” a senior U.S. defense source added. According to the Pentagon, rescuers “deliberately planned” the operation, and moved in when it was apparent that ISIS hostage takers were planning to kill the hostages.
When asked if the mission violated President Obama’s vow not to put boots on the ground in Iraq, Cook said U.S. forces can “protect against the loss of innocent life” in their support role. He said Defense Secretary Ash Carter approved the mission, and the White House was aware.
See? It wasn’t Obama sending troops into battle against ISIS in Iraq… it was Ash Carter. Apparently, Secretary Carter is now the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces.
NB: WH says POTUS did not sign off on #Iraq Spec Ops raid that left US solider dead, says it was Def. Sec. Carter's call
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) October 22, 2015
— scott good (@SkidWillie) October 22, 2015
So don’t worry folks, we aren’t actually engaged in “combat” in Iraq… our soldiers are simply there shooting their guns at bad guys in order to protect innocent lives. That’s all.
Because if we were actually engaged in combat, then some cynical conservatives who worried that pulling out of Iraq would leave a power vacuum that could lead to disaster might feel like the entire decade we spent fighting in Iraq was all for naught.
Some conservatives might even say that all of the misery that has exploded since we left Iraq in 2011 could have been avoided had we simply left our troops in place for a few more years. Some conservatives might wonder if we only made matters worse for ourselves (and everyone else) by leaving too soon, and that this “reengagement” of force might be proof of that.
Conservatives might wonder all of this… if we were engaging in combat again.
Which is probably why the White House seems to be refusing to admit that that is what this was.
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook had been blunter on Thursday: “Our mission in Iraq is the train, advise and assist mission. This was a unique circumstance. … This was a support mission in which they were providing support to the Kurdistan Regional Government. U.S. forces are not in an active combat mission in Iraq.”
But before Carter left the podium on Friday, he offered this explanation for why he couldn’t reveal more details of Wheeler’s actions: “This is combat. Things are complicated.”
The rules of the official advise-and-assist mission meant the Americans were to “stay behind the last covered and concealed position,” but when the fighters they were supporting began taking fire and casualties, they stepped in and acted. As Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren noted from Baghdad, “In the chaos of combat, when you see your friends being hit, I would submit to you that you’re under somewhat of a moral obligation.” Again, combat.
Thursday’s events have thrust into the public spotlight the rather plastic definitions of “war” and “combat” with which Americans have been operating for a while now.