The American President finally has a strategy for dealing with the threat posed by the jihadists militants in Iraq and Syria, but will it work?by Michael Clarke / September 12, 2014 / Leave a comment
Strategies are not blueprints. They are not supposed to be full of operational detail and way-points. They represent an orientation; a commitment to do something or do something differently. That is what President Obama gave the US public earlier this week. His speech followed a couple of weeks of intensive quiet diplomacy before and after the NATO Summit to make sure that there was broad domestic and foreign support for his announcements. There was a determination to avoid the glaring errors of the Syria vote this time last year and to get it right by assembling a coalition of supporters before any statement was made. In the domestic arena Republicans may grit their teeth but they cannot oppose his military action with the mid-term elections approaching and on the back on the beheading videos that have galvanised the nation. At the international level Secretary of State John Kerry has shuttled across the Middle East yet again and was in Jeddah on the eve of the speech explaining the strategy to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey and Jordan, among others. Indeed King Abdullah II of Jordan was making it pretty plain at the NATO Summit last week that if the international community did not mobilise against Isis then Jordan would go it alone, since he calculated that the risks of inactivity were greater than the risk of military action for Jordan. President Obama is not acting alone. He is putting the US where is often prefers to be in these cases; supplying the lead and the muscle to a group of allies and friends who explicitly want it.