Is the Obama Administration Laying the Groundwork for a Military Intervention in Iraq?

There are a number of signs that the Obama Administration seems to be preparing the ground for a larger US military intervention into Iraq. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told sailors at the Navy’s submarine base in Kings Bay, Georgia, July 9, that ISIS represents an “imminent threat” to the U.S.

“This country should not make any mistake on this, nor anyone in Congress — this is a threat to our country,” Hagel said. “This is a force that is sophisticated. It’s dynamic, it’s strong, it’s organized, it’s well-financed, it’s competent, and it is a threat to our allies all over the Middle East. It’s a threat to Europe. It’s a threat to every stabilized country on Earth, and it’s a threat to us,” Hagel said. He added that the US special forces teams in Iraq will be reporting back with their assessments of the situation on the ground in the next few days. Their recommendations will provide the basis for decisions about what the US will do next.

Meanwhile, back at the Pentagon (and perhaps in other likely places as well), officials are reported to be considering under what circumstances they would recommend a killer drone strike on Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. “He is a person of great interest to us,” one unnamed defense official told CNN. Defense officials told CNN that if the U.S. military were to recommend a drone strike against al-Baghdadi, there would have to be specific and detailed intelligence showing his location at the moment of a strike and intelligence to assure that civilians would not be at risk.

In order to launch a kill mission, the U.S. would have to demonstrate the target poses a threat to the U.S. Al-Baghdadi’s ISIS organization does threaten the U.S. Embassy and U.S. citizens in Iraq, according to U.S. officials. Obama administration officials have already concluded, CNN adds, that a capture operation is out of the question, and that, therefore, he is, in effect or otherwise, already on the US kill list.

Another step into the abyss was perhaps indicated by the response of Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) who, when asked yesterday by Defense News, if the US assessment concludes that the Iraqi military is not up to the job, and there is no likelihood of a political arrangement that includes Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds, said “I think everyone is excluding that possibility.”

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