US Airstrikes on ISIS begin
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, saying that he was acting to avert a threatened genocide, announced late Thursday that he had authorized airstrikes against Sunni militants who have advanced quickly across northern Iraq, driving tens of thousands of people out of their towns and villages.
In addition to the threat of airstrikes, Obama confirmed that U.S. cargo planes had dropped supplies to displaced Iraqis in the area of Mount Sinjar who faced the risk of imminent starvation.
“Today, America is coming to help,” Obama said in brief remarks from the White House.
NBC has a bit more info:
The United States dropped laser-guided bombs on ISIS artillery in Iraq on Friday, the Pentagon said — the beginning of airstrikes threatened a day earlier by President Barack Obama.
The bombs, 500 pounds each, were dropped by two Navy F-18 fighter jets near Erbil, the strategically important city that serves as the Kurdish capital, and where the United States has a consulate. ISIS was using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil, the Pentagon said.
The situation with the people trapped is all kinds of bad. The President talked a bit about it:
Second, at the request of the Iraqi government — we've begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain. As ISIL has marched across Iraq, it has waged a ruthless campaign against innocent Iraqis. And these terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yazidis, a small and ancient religious sect. Countless Iraqis have been displaced. And chilling reports describe ISIL militants rounding up families, conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yazidi women.
In recent days, Yazidi women, men and children from the area of Sinjar have fled for their lives. And thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — are now hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs. They're without food, they're without water. People are starving. And children are dying of thirst. Meanwhile, ISIL forces below have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yazidi people, which would constitute genocide. So these innocent families are faced with a horrible choice: descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger.
I've said before, the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there's a crisis in the world. So let me be clear about why we must act, and act now. When we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help — in this case, a request from the Iraqi government — and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That's what we're doing on that mountain.
I'm still not entirely sure I get what our criteria is. I'm totally fine with helping out the Yazidi, what I'm not sure I get though is why them and not any of the other minorities around the globe who are facing eradication. The Christians in Iraq have been getting killed in droves for weeks now, so I'm not sure why the Yazidi and not the Christians. For that matter, what about other places in Africa? Is the distinction that the Gov't asked us to come in? So, if the exact situation was occuring, but the Iraqi Gov't DIDN'T ask for our help, we would not do anything. But wouldn't these people face genocide then too?
UPDATE: Commander Dellinger issued a statement on it as well.
Legion National Commander: President makes right call on U.S. air strikes, Iraq must not fall
WASHINGTON (August 8, 2014) – “A necessary step,” is how the head of the nation’s largest veterans service organization characterized President Obama’s decision to authorize U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State terrorists that are threatening U.S. personnel and Iraqi civilians in the war torn country which has been under siege since June. The mission also includes providing humanitarian assistance in the form of food and water.
“Nobody wants endless war,” American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said. “But the Islamic radicals have no regard for human life and are intent on destroying every semblance of civilization that doesn’t fit into their evil ideology. Too many brave American men and women have sacrificed their lives and limbs in Iraq for us to disengage. We cannot isolate ourselves from what is happening in the world. 9/11 has proven that.”