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September 2, 2014

Posts in "Foreign Policy"

September 2, 2014

Still Waiting for Obama’s Strategy to Fight ISIS in Syria

453951288 213x335 Still Waiting for Obamas Strategy to Fight ISIS in Syria

A 2011 photo shows Sotloff working in Libya. (Getty Images File Photo)

As news broke Tuesday that the Islamic State had posted a video claiming to show the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff, the White House still hasn’t figured out how to take on the group in Syria.

“The president and his team are still working on” a military strategy for Syria, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at Tuesday’s briefing.

Earnest came out shortly before reports of the beheading emerged; he said he was not aware of the reports and promised the video would be examined for its authenticity. He noted the United States had tried to rescue Sotloff and offered thoughts for his family.

Republicans have become increasingly hawkish about attacking ISIS — also knowns as ISIL — in recent days. Full story

August 28, 2014

Obama on ISIS: ‘We Don’t Have a Strategy’ (Updated) (Video)

492587929 445x296 Obama on ISIS: We Dont Have a Strategy (Updated) (Video)

Obama said he hasn’t finalized a strategy for dealing with the jihadi insurgents who control parts of Syria and Iraq. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/File Photo)

Updated 6:26 p.m. | President Barack Obama said Thursday it’s premature to go to Congress to authorize a strategy to defeat ISIS — because he doesn’t have one yet.

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama told reporters after being asked about striking ISIS in Syria, saying he didn’t want to “put the cart before the horse.”

The line — sure to be repeated often by his critics — came as Republicans have been repeatedly demanding a strategy to defeat ISIS.

Obama said he’s asked the military for options to take on ISIS, but a decision to expand strikes into Syria isn’t imminent and he suggested it would not happen before Congress returns from recess.

He said there was a role for Congress to play once that strategy is in place. But he said that he didn’t wait for Congress before launching airstrikes in Iraq because he had a responsibility to protect the American people and could not wait. He said that he has consulted with Congress on his actions to date and that feedback has been positive. Full story

Russian Stock Market Up Despite Jay Carney ‘Short’ Talk

492586773 445x296 Russian Stock Market Up Despite Jay Carney Short Talk

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

It’s been more than five months since CQ Roll Call asked Jay Carney about the stock market in Russia — and he talked about shorting it. You’d have lost a bundle if you followed that advice.

“I wouldn’t, if I were you, invest in Russian equities right now — unless you’re going short,” Carney responded to the question posed at his March 18 daily press briefing.

But despite incremental sanctions and new reports of Russian incursions into Ukraine, the Russian stock market is still up substantially since CQ Roll Call asked the question. Full story

Obama to Meet With National Security Council

Facing decisions on crises in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, President Barack Obama will meet with his National Security Council this afternoon at the White House in the Situation Room.

The White House announced the 4 p.m. meeting — with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. joining by telephone — early Thursday. The meeting comes as the president is considering whether to expand airstrikes against the Islamic State group into Syria, as well as Iraq, and faces a decision on how to respond to reports of Russian military incursions in Ukraine. Full story

August 18, 2014

Obama Dispatches Holder to Ferguson, Cites Progress in Iraq (Video)

492587929 445x296 Obama Dispatches Holder to Ferguson, Cites Progress in Iraq (Video)

Obama sends Holder to Ferguson, reports progress in Iraq. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated 7:03 p.m. | President Barack Obama, back in Washington for a day of meetings in the midst of his August vacation, on Monday reported “progress” in the expanded campaign of U.S. airstrikes on Iraqi insurgents near Mosul, and again called for calm in the riot-torn streets of Ferguson, Mo.

He announced that Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Ferguson on Wednesday to talk with local leaders about the riots that have rocked the St. Louis suburb since the Aug. 9 police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

Asked about the militarization of American law enforcement that some have said is exacerbating clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, Obama said it may be time to review the use of federal dollars to purchase surplus military vehicles and gear.

“There’s a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement,” he said. “And we don’t want those lines blurred.”

Some civil rights leaders have urged the president to speak out more forcefully on the shooting of Michael Brown, but on Monday, Obama instead called for restraint on the part of both police and protesters. Full story

July 29, 2014

Obama to Make Statement on Ukraine; New Sanctions Planned for Russia

President Barack Obama will make a statement on Tuesday at 2:50 p.m. on Ukraine, the White House said, as the administration said earlier to expect new sanctions against Russia.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest said earlier this afternoon to expect an announcement on sanctions as soon as today. The announcement will come as European nations are stepping up their own sanctions and as the administration has accused the Russian government of stepping up its support for Ukrainian separatists and with violating a treaty against medium-range cruise missiles. The administration has also said Russia has culpability for creating an environment that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.

To date, while sanctions have stung, the administration has avoided broader economic sanctions that could impact the global and the U.S. economy — a concern Obama has repeatedly raised.

July 21, 2014

Obama Wants ‘Immediate’ Cease-Fire in Gaza

President Barack Obama called for an “immediate” cease-fire in Gaza Monday, after an invasion and air assault by Israel in response to rocked attacks by Hamas left hundreds dead.

The president noted that Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to the region.

“I’ve instructed him to push for an immediate cessation of hostilities,” he said. “We don’t want to see any more civilians getting killed.”

He reaffirmed that Israel has a right to defend itself against rocket attacks, and said Israel’s attacks have already damaged “Hamas’s terrorist infrastructure in Gaza,” but said the United States is concerned about civilian deaths in Gaza, as well as Israeli casualties.

Previous efforts at a cease-fire failed after Hamas continued to fire rockets at Israel — nearly 2,000 since the recent hostilities began, according to Israel.

June 17, 2014

Obama Hosting Iraq Meeting With Boehner, Reid, McConnell, Pelosi

President Barack Obama will meet at the White House with the bipartisan Congressional leadership Wednesday to discuss Iraq and other foreign policy issues, according to a White House official.

The meeting with Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., comes amid a growing crisis in Iraq. Members of the president’s own party are deeply reluctant to take significant military action, Republicans are pinning blame on the president for withdrawing troops and the American public is wary.

Other foreign policy issues will be discussed as well, the official said.

June 12, 2014

Obama Could Bomb Iraq Without Congress Because War Authorization Never Expired

sotu tw009 012814 445x296 Obama Could Bomb Iraq Without Congress Because War Authorization Never Expired

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:00 p.m. | President Barack Obama has the authority to wage war in Iraq without going to Congress, because the original use of force authorization remains in effect.

Obama said Thursday he’s “not ruling anything out” in Iraq, as rebels have swept through some of that country’s largest cities and are bearing down on Baghdad.

But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney appeared to walk back Obama’s comment at his briefing.

“We are not contemplating ground troops. I want to be clear about that. The president … was answering a question about airstrikes,” Carney said.

When asked about getting Congress’s permission to take action, Carney was noncommittal.

“We are in active consultation with members of Congress,” he said.

He demurred when asked directly about the 2002 authorization to use military force (AUMF). An administration spokeswoman, Caitlin Hayden, told Yahoo’s Olivier Knox in January “the administration supports the repeal of the Iraq AUMF.”

Hayden emailed CQ Roll Call late Thursday and to reiterate that what she said then remains in effect.

She declined to comment on what authority Obama would have to act if he decided to launch a strike.

“We support it’s repeal for all the same reasons as before, without commenting on decisions the President hasn’t made yet,” she said in an email.

Some Capitol Hill sources believe Obama could still act using other authorities, including the broad war on terror AUMF passed by Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, even if the Iraq AUMF is repealed. Obama has used that authority for drone strikes in a number of countries.

A recent Congressional Research Service report says the AUMF in Iraq had no expiration date and has not been repealed. Therefore it remains current law, “although its continued effectiveness is questionable.

“Arguably, the president could rely on [it] to reintroduce forces into Iraq if he determined that Iraq once again posed a threat to U.S. national security.”

Full story

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