MER – American double standards?

American double standards?Now that the Obama administration has decided to intervene against the Islamic State (IS) with airstrikes in the Sinjar area of northwest Iraq, there are predictable accusations of American double standards. Why is America intervening in this case and not in Syria or Gaza and many others where the humanitarian crisis is even worse? The short answer has to do with feasibility and logic.

As far as logic is concerned, it is important to remember a few facts: We are talking about a very limited American intervention within limited objectives. Second, this intervention is against a terrorist organization that threatened to commit a small-scale genocide against as many as 40,000 members of the minority Yazidi sect.

Third, the ongoing strikes, which began on Friday, address immediate concerns of protecting not only besieged minorities but also Americans and critical infrastructure in the north of Iraq. In a letter sent to Congress late on Friday, the White House said US military operations would be “limited in their scope and duration as necessary to protect American personnel” and to help Iraqi forces aid and rescue besieged minorities.

It is important to remind everyone that the Obama administration feels a sense of moral and strategic obligation in Iraq, where a significant amount of American blood and investment was lost. This is not the case in Syria, where the civil war began in the wake of the Arab Spring, without any link to America’s presence in the country.

In addition to these important factors, the Obama administration is hoping to influence the political situation in Baghdad with this intervention. The Obama administration wants not only to avoid the disintegration of Iraq and prevent “genocide” against minorities.

But, perhaps more importantly, it wants to maintain enough leverage to press for an inclusive government.The Obama administration wants Iraq’s majority Shiites to choose a replacement for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose sectarian governance has led many Iraqi Sunnis to provide tacit and sometimes overt support to the Sunni extremists, now known as the Islamic State.

Obama made this point abundantly clear when he was asked in a press conference last week how long the airstrikes would continue. He said “the most important timetable that I’m focused on right now is the Iraqi government getting formed and finalized.

I don’t think we’re going to solve this problem in weeks. What we don’t have yet is a prime minister and a cabinet that can start reaching out to all the various groups and factions inside Iraq and give confidence to populations in the Sunni areas that the militants are not the only game in town.

In order to ensure that Sunni populations reject outright these kinds of incursions, they’ve got to feel like they’re invested in a broader national government. And right now, they don’t feel that.

”Finally it is important to point out that the decision to unleash this limited intervention is a product of feasibility rather than double standards. Intervening against a terrorist organization in a rural area in order to save tens of thousands of lives is much more feasible than intervening in Syria, where a sectarian and urban civil war is taking place between the forces of a sovereign state and rebels.

When you compare the situation with Syria, the topography of the combat area, the international law dimension with UN involvement, the strategic implications of a proxy war with Iran and the absence of Americans on the ground are all factors that set apart the logic and feasibility of the ongoing intervention in northern Iraq. Simply put, this American intervention is passing the logic and feasibility test whereas an operation in Syria would have failed on both counts.

But those who want to blame the Obama administration for having double standards will certainly continue to do so on ideological and partisan grounds. They often have the luxury of applying no logic to their argument.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman