President Obama’s prime-time speech outlining his plan to broaden a U.S.-led offensive against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, prompted generally cautious support from the editorial pages of major newspapers across the country this morning.
As we reported last night, Obama told the nation: “Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.”
The United States “will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” he said.
Here’s a sampling of reaction in op-eds in major dailies today:
The New York Times (Peter Baker):
“It will be a significantly different kind of war — not like Iraq or Afghanistan, where many tens of thousands of American troops were still deployed when Mr. Obama took the oath nearly six years ago. And even though Mr. Obama compared it to the small-scale, sporadic strikes against isolated terrorists in places like Yemen and Somalia, it will not be exactly like those either.
“Instead, the widening battle with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will be the next chapter in a grueling, generational struggle that has kept the United States at war in one form or another since that day 13 years ago on Thursday when hijacked airplanes shattered America’s sense of its own security.”
“Obama has used military force judiciously throughout his presidency, but there are times when the threat is so clear that nothing else suffices. This is one of those times.
“There is no way at this early stage to know how exactly the American response will unfold or how the threat will mutate in the coming months. The success of the campaign depends on the reliability of U.S. partners in the region.”
The Los Angeles Times: “The president is right about the shared global interests in stopping the Islamic State. After a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, though, the decision to re-engage militarily in the region is a fraught and complicated one. As he moves forward, he needs to be mindful of the dangers of mission creep and assiduous in pressing other countries to help in the effort. Finally, he should seek congressional endorsement for any sustained use of military force against this enemy.”
The Washington Post (E.J. Dionne): “The emergence of the Islamic State and its barbaric beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff have shaken public opinion again. It is, of course, possible that the public’s guardedly increased hawkishness is another short-term reaction to an enraging news event. But there is a strong case that, after all the gyrations in policy and popular attitudes, we are on the verge of a new politics of foreign policy based on a steadier, more sober and more realistic view of our country’s role in the world and of what it takes to keep the nation safe.”
And, The Boston Globe (Stephen Kinzer):
“President George W. Bush told Americans that the 9/11 attacks represented a threat so enormous that we had to plunge into foreign wars that cost tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. That is how some Americans want Obama to depict the ISIS threat. He refused to do that.
“Instead he spoke in measured phrases, recognizing the emergence of a new danger but not exaggerating it. Rather than warn of mortal peril, he said he was ‘more confident than ever about our country’s future.'”