Liveblogging (?) the big Obama ISIS speech

Since I am not one of those important journalist types who gets copies of this kind of thing in advance, I’m going to try liveblogging the thing because, well, why not, I guess? I’m trying out this liveblogging thing that I’ve never used before, so if it’s all a giant fail blame this whole technology-mad dystopia we’ve created for ourselves, and if I don’t make it, remember me as a peacemaker.

So, here goes?

Yeah, OK, that didn’t work. I mean, I don’t know why I would expect WordPress to actually have some functionality; I’ve been doing this long enough to know better. Maybe I’ll just type some things into this box if I feel like it every once in a while? Let’s see how that goes.

The following “live blog” takes place between the hours of 9:00 PM EDT and, well, I mean, whenever, it could take a while, this guy can go on for awhile:

9:01: Polls show that the American public is “alarmed” by the Islamic State, per Rachel Maddow. In related news, the American people have really short memories about the efficacy of engaging in major military conflict in the Middle East.

9:01: Mostly on time tonight, I see

9:03: As expected, the President is going with “ISIL,” because if we call them “the Islamic State” then they win

9:05: Obama points out that the Iraqi government has to ultimately fix this problem itself, trumpets the formation of the new Abadi government that just so happens to be missing its two top national security ministers. Progress! Also mentions the importance of Arab partners around the region.

9:06: We’re boosting the number of advisors/special ops forces in Iraq, but he’s rightly (in my opinion) still connecting significant increases in American activity in Iraq to political reform and national reconciliation efforts in Baghdad.

9:07: First mention of Syria, which you would think will have to take up the bulk of these remarks, seeing as how it’s a much tougher nut to crack

9:08: Calls on Congress to earmark more money to arming the moderate Syrian rebels. Buddy, Congress barely has time to gavel itself in from vacation before it has to go on vacation again. We’re definitely not going to be working with Assad, who is Bad, even though rolling back IS logically helps Assad whether we intend it or not.

9:10: Obama wants Congress’s support (which he’s unlikely to get), but says he doesn’t need it (which is questionable)

9:11: This isn’t going to be like the last Iraq War! Coalition-building! No boots on the ground! We know how to fight terrorists, like we do in Yemen and Somalia!

9:13: Gratuitous shout-out to America’s role in “deterring Russian aggression,” then a kind of bizarre reference to America’s ability to contain Ebola, which, you know, if we can do that then let’s get on it?

9:14: Lots of fluff about America’s Special Responsibility to Lead the World

9:15: And we’re done. Aside from the bit about increasing support for the Syrian moderates, who I’m sure must exist somewhere, really nothing about how he’s planning to address IS in Syria. There was more substance on Iraq, but Iraq is easier and there was nothing in this speech that we didn’t already know about.

I’m no expert, but I think this is going to fall flat. People are nervous about IS but they’re also naturally worried about more entanglements in the region. This was an opportunity to go into some detail about what we’re going to do to combat IS in Syria, which is the big unknown here, but instead we got some scary stuff about how bad the Islamic State is, some heartwarming stuff about America’s role in the world, and some still pretty vague promises that we’ll get the job done but won’t fall into a morass. The MSNBC guys are hitting Obama a bit over the Yemen/Somalia analogies, but I think there’s a point to be made that we’ve managed to erode AQAP and Al Shabaab without a major commitment of US blood and treasure, so we can do the same with IS. The problem is that it’s not really clear that our actions have eroded those groups all that much, and both Yemen and Somalia are chaotic disasters right now. That’s not really the outcome we want in Iraq or Syria.


That’s…really nonsensical.


3 thoughts on “Liveblogging (?) the big Obama ISIS speech

  1. Um, yeah. I would be much happier if they dropped the whole Terrorism kabuki and laid out what our actual national interests might be; we’re grown ups, we can handle the truth.

    I’m disturbed by reports that the Turkish government is fine with ISIS carving out a Sunni state. Any word on whether the Germans are in the coalition this time around, now that it’s all about controlling oil rather than American Risk aficionados gaming out their adolescent fantasies with real live soldiers?

    1. Germany is supposedly planning to send weapons to the Kurds, so I guess they’re in. They’re probably freaked out about the Germans who have gone to fight for IS coming home.

      Turkey has to face the music at some point; they turned a blind eye to the movement of radicals into Syria that helped create IS in the first place, and they’d still probably choose IS over Assad, but if IS really succeeds in Syria then it’s unquestionably going to be coming for Turkey at some point.

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