When the Obama administration came into power it brought with it a belief in a new doctrine called Responsibility to Protect (R2P) R2P is a doctrine that subordinates the traditional authority of the state to international scrutiny and intervention if human rights violations occur... and you have a tiny and ineffectual military.
R2P was henceforth summarised to incorporate 3 key pillars of responsibility: firstly, the primaryresponsibility of the state to protect its population from mass atrocity crimes; secondly the responsibility of the international community to assist states in their efforts to do so; and finally the responsibility to take collective action if national authorities fail to prevent populations from mass atrocities.
(Apologies for the descent into gibberish but this is by a leftwing academic writing what he thought was a job application.)
The big brain national security thinkers and the clutch of hens who run Obama's foreign policy all agreed that this was the wave of the future. Samantha Power, in particular, was a huge proponent of the idea. It was tried out in Libya with smashing success. It was so successful that the administration couldn't bring itself to succeed on that scale again in Syria.
Now, in Iraq, there are several major humanitarian crises that are tailor-made for R2P. Iraqi Christians are being systematically cleansed from the areas of Iraq under control of ISIS. To be clear, this isn't different in intent from the policy of the Maliki government but it is a much more deadly way to do it. Several thousand members of a religious minority, the Yezidi, are besieged on a mountain top and gradually dying of thirst and starvation. This is also an action of ISIS.
The Iraq government has neither the will nor means to protect these people. And only last night, after studiously ignoring the unfolding slaughter, did Obama deign to act when even the most morally and intellectual bankrupt members of the ruling claque could no longer ignore what was happening:
President Obama on Thursday announced he had authorized limited airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq, scrambling to avert the fall of the Kurdish capital, Erbil, and returning the United States to a significant battlefield role in Iraq for the first time since the last American soldier left the country at the end of 2011.
Speaking at the White House on Thursday night, Mr. Obama also said that American military aircraft had dropped food and water to tens of thousands of Iraqis trapped on a barren mountain range in northwestern Iraq, having fled the militants, from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, who threaten them with what Mr. Obama called “genocide.”
Even so, the aid to the Yezidi falls into the too little, too late category unless a land corridor is opened to allow them egress from their current location.
This is a failed and intellectually and morally bankrupt administration. Not only did it renounce national security policy as it existed under President Bush but it seems to have only now decided to half-halfheartedly adhere to its own.