According to a Thursday story in Hot Air, President Obama has essentially declared “mission accomplished” where the Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar are concerned and announced that the siege of the tens of thousands of Iraqis by ISIS has been broken. But the New York Times reports that this assessment is disputed by local Yazidi leaders and United Nations officials. As many as 70,000 Yazidis still remain trapped and under threat of death. Even the Pentagon admits that as many as 5,000 are still trapped, but that is apparently below the threshold of affecting a rescue mission.
One Yazidi leader suggested that an American military assessment team may not have seen the full extent of the situation, having just visited the north side of Mount Sinjar that was easily accessible by helicopter. The south side, closest to ISIS positions, is still has many thousands of Yazidis who are under threat of dying of hunger and thirst. They have inexplicably been left out of the calculations of the Obama administration.
How does one account for the discrepancy between the upbeat assessment by the Obama administration and the more dire perspective by some people on the ground? There may be a predisposition to believe reports that suggest that a military rescue mission is not needed because such an operation would be politically inconvenient to the Obama administration. It would have to go to Congress to get authorization and would therefore have to explain why it let the situation get out of control in the first place.
The bone chilling notion that the administration might just let tens of thousands of innocent people die because it would be too inconvenient to save them has to be considered. The control of the Senate looks more and more likely to flip to the Republicans this fall. Annoying his base by launching a large scale military intervention would make that prospect more likely. That may be a risk the president is not prepared to take.