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← President Obama authorizes airstrikes on militants in Iraq

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Showing Revision 2 created 08/09/2014 by Allison Epstein.

  1. Good evening.
  2. Today I authorized two operations in Iraq:
  3. Targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel,
  4. and a humanitarian effort to help save
    thousands of
  5. Iraqi civilians who were trapped on a
    mountain without food
  6. and water and facing almost certain
    death.
  7. Let me explain the actions we're taking
  8. and why. First, I said in June
  9. as the terrorist group ISIL began an
    advance across Iraq
  10. that the United States would be prepared to take targeted military action in Iraq
  11. if and when we determined that the situation required it.
  12. In recent days, these terrorists have
    continued to move across Iraq
  13. and have neared the city of Erbil, where
    American diplomats and civilians serve
  14. at our consulate
  15. and American military personnel advise
    Iraqi forces.
  16. To stop the advance on Erbil
  17. I've directed our military to take targeted
    strikes
  18. against ISIL terrorist convoys should
    they move toward the city.
  19. We intend to stay vigilant and take
    action
  20. if these terrorist forces threaten our
    personnel or facilities
  21. anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil
  22. and our embassy in Baghdad. We're also providing urgent assistance to
  23. Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so
    they can more effectively wage the fight
  24. against ISIL.
  25. Second, at the request
  26. of the Iraqi government, we've begun
    operations to help save
  27. Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain.
  28. As ISIL has marched across Iraq, it has waged
  29. a ruthless campaign against innocent
    Iraqis, and these terrorists have been
  30. especially barbaric towards religious
    minorities
  31. including Christian and Yazidis,
  32. a small and ancient religious sect. Countless Iraqis have been displaced.
  33. Chilling reports describe ISIL militants
    rounding up families,
  34. conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yazidi women.
  35. In recent days, Yazidi women,
  36. men, and children from the area of
    Sinjar have fled for their lives
  37. and thousands perhaps tens of thousands are now hiding high up on the mountain
  38. with little but the clothes on their backs. They're without food.
  39. They're without water. People are starving.
  40. Children are dying of thirst. Meanwhile,
  41. ISIL forces below have called for the
    systematic destruction
  42. of the entire Yazidi people, which
    would constitute genocide.
  43. So these innocent families
  44. are faced with a horrible choice:
    descend the mountain and be slaughtered,
  45. or stay and slowly die of thirst and
    hunger. I've said before,
  46. the United States cannot and should not
    intervene every time there's a crisis in the world.
  47. So let me be clear about why we must act and act now.
  48. When we face a situation like we do on that mountain,
  49. with innocent people facing the prospect of
  50. violence on a horrific scale, and we have a mandate to help -
  51. in this case a request from the Iraqi
    government - and when we have
  52. the unique capabilities to help avert a
    massacre, then I believe the United States
  53. of America cannot turn a blind eye.
  54. We can act, carefully and responsibly, to
    prevent
  55. a potential act of genocide. That's what
    we're doing on that mountain.
  56. I've therefore authorized targeted
    airstrikes
  57. if necessary to help forces in Iraq as
    they fight to break the siege
  58. on Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians
    trapped there. Already, American aircraft
  59. have begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water
  60. to help these desperate men, women, and children survive. Earlier this week,
  61. one Iraqi in the area cried to the world,
    "There is no one coming to help."
  62. Well, today America is coming to help.
  63. We're also consulting with other
    countries and the United Nations
  64. who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis.
  65. I know that many of you are rightly
    concerned about
  66. any American military action in Iraq,
    even limited strikes like these.
  67. I understand that. I ran for this office
    in part to end our war in Iraq and
  68. welcome our troops home. And that's what we've done.
  69. As Commander in
    Chief, I will not allow the United States
  70. to be dragged into fighting another war
    in Iraq.
  71. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take
  72. the fight to these terrorists, American
    combat troops will not be returning to
  73. fight in Iraq,
  74. because there is no American military
    solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.
  75. The only lasting solution is
    reconciliation among Iraqi communities
  76. and stronger Iraqi security forces.
  77. However, we can and should support
    moderate forces who can bring stability
  78. to Iraq.
  79. So even as we carry out these two
    missions, we will continue to pursue
  80. a broader strategy that empowers Iraqis to confront this crisis.
  81. Iraqi leaders need to come together and
    forge a new government
  82. that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis.
  83. And they can fight back against the threats like ISIL.
  84. Iraqis have named a new president, a new speaker of parliament,
  85. and are seeking consensus on a new prime minister.
  86. This is the progress that needs to
    continue in order to reverse the
  87. momentum of the terrorists who prey on
  88. Iraq's divisions. Once Iraq has a new
    government,
  89. the United States will work with it and
    other countries in the region to provide
  90. increased support to deal with this
    humanitarian crisis and
  91. counterterrorism challenge. None of Iraq's neighbors
  92. have an interest in this terrible
    suffering or instability
  93. and so we'll continue to work with our
    friends and allies to help refugees get
  94. the shelter and food and water they so
    desperately need
  95. and to help Iraqis pushback again ISIL.
  96. The several hundred American advisers
    that I order to Iraq will continue
  97. to assess what more we can do to help
    train, advise,
  98. and support Iraqi forces going forward. And just as I consulted Congress
  99. on the decisions I made today,
  100. we will continue to do so going forward.
  101. My fellow Americans, the world is confronted
  102. by many challenges, and while America has never been
  103. able to right every wrong, America has made
  104. the world a more secure and prosperous
    place.
  105. And our leadership is necessary to
    underwrite the global security and
  106. prosperity that our children
  107. and our grandchildren will depend on.
  108. We do so by adhering to a set of core
    principles.
  109. We do whatever is necessary to protect
    our people.
  110. We support our allies when they're in
    danger.
  111. We leave coalitions of countries to
    uphold international norms.
  112. And we strive to stay true to the
    fundamental values:
  113. the desire to live with basic freedom
    and dignity
  114. that is common for human beings wherever they are.
  115. That's why people all over the world
    look to the United States of America to lead.
  116. And that's why we do.
  117. Let me close by assuring you that there
    is no decision that I take more
  118. seriously than the use of military force.
  119. Over the last several years,
  120. we have brought the vast majority of our
    troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan,
  121. and I've been careful to resist calls to
    turn time and again to our military,
  122. because America has other tools in our
    arsenal than our military.
  123. We can also lead with the power of our
    diplomacy, our economy,
  124. and our ideals. But when the lives of American citizens are at risk,
  125. we will take action. That's my
    responsibility as Commander in Chief.
  126. And when many thousands of innocent
    civilians are faced with the danger
  127. of being wiped out,
  128. and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action.
  129. That is our responsibility as Americans. It's a hallmark of American leadership.
  130. That's who we are.
  131. So tonight we give thanks to our men and women in uniform,
  132. especially our brave pilots and crews
    over Iraq,
  133. who are protecting our fellow Americans and saving the lives of so many men,
  134. women, and children that they will never
    meet.
  135. They represent American leadership at
    its best.
  136. As a nation, we should be proud of them, and of our country's enduring commitment
  137. to uphold our own security and the
    dignity of our fellow human beings.
  138. God bless our armed forces, and God bless the United States of America.