Micah Zenko

Mission Leap

5 signs your "limited" Iraq intervention is spiraling out of control.

On Feb. 12, 1993, journalist Christopher Burns filed a story from Somalia containing a term that had never before appeared in English language press: "The U.S.-led military mission to halt clan warfare and get aid to the needy has unofficially widened its role to include such tasks as rebuilding houses, digging wells and creating police forces. Officials call it 'mission creep.'"

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The Slippery Slope of U.S. Intervention

America's rescue mission in Iraq is going to be messier, longer, and more expensive than the White House wants to admit.

During his recent hour-long interview with the New York Times's Thomas Friedman, President Barack Obama mentioned something in passing when he described the need to be better prepared for post-conflict rebuilding and reconstruction before authorizing an intervention: "Our participation in the coalition that overthrew Qaddafi in Libya. I absolutely believed that it was the right thing to do." Note the phrase I've italicized above -- it's an unnoticed but entirely remarkable acknowledgment from the commander-in-chief, because it is directly at odds with what he told the American people prior to, and just after, the start of the Libya intervention in 2011.

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Enough With the Chicken Littles

The sky is not falling, but you wouldn't know that from reading the news of the world.

Although a dwindling number of Americans truly care about what happens elsewhere in the world, those who still do might believe, as former government officials have described it, that "the world is aflame," "there are fires burning everywhere," "many places around the world that we have interests ... are perilous," "the trend towards a more chaotic world is not going to change anytime soon," or "to put it mildly, the world is a mess." Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently declared: "The challenges and threats that face America today are the same challenges and threats that face the world. These are all borderless challenges.... Terrorism, fundamentalism, all these are threats, and they come from all parts of the world." Accordingly, somehow all countries are both unsafe and sources of all dangers.

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Obama's Armed Drones in Iraq Reek of Mission Creep

Why the administration’s muddy logic for intervention on behalf of a deeply unpopular central government will get America engaged in a Middle Eastern civil war.

Don't worry if you missed it. I mean, what do you buy for the drone war that has everything? Yes, the 10-year anniversary of the CIA's drone strike campaign in northwest Pakistan unsurprisingly passed without mention in Washington, but it has potential lessons for the unfolding deterioration of security in Iraq, as the Islamic State (formerly ISIS or ISIL) continues to seize territory, declaring an Islamic caliphate over portions of Iraq and Syria.

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When All You've Got Is an F-16…

Why is bombing the only option in Washington's policy toolkit?

Just two days after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) captured territory and military installations in Iraq, Washington foreign policy commentators and policymakers are considering options for responding. And unsurprisingly, the scope of the debate about what to do in Iraq has broken down into bombing, or not bombing. Sen. Lindsey Graham declared on the Senate floor, "I think American airpower is the only hope to change the battlefield equation in Iraq." President Barack Obama later said "I don't rule out anything," to which White House Press Secretary Jay Carney later explained, "We are not contemplating ground troops. The president was answering a question specifically about air strikes." The debate shrinks immediately around whether and how to use the tactic of force.

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