President Barack Obama revealed plans Thursday to send “up to 300” American military personnel to Iraq in an effort to defuse militants threatening the country’s government. In his address to the nation, Obama was adamant that these military personnel would not be engaged in combat, but would “train, advise and support Iraqi security forces going forward.” Along with the mobilization of military advisers to Baghdad, the president said that he has “significantly increased our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets so that we’ve got a better picture of what’s taking place inside of Iraq.” These intelligence forces, according to Obama’s statement, will work cooperatively with Iraqi forces to combat ISIL, the terrorist group sometimes referred to as "ISIS" making hostile advances in Iraq. The president also said that he had shifted some U.S. military forces in the Middle East and that the country "will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it." The recent events in Iraq have sparked debate over U.S. involvement in the country, prompting many members of Congress to threaten to fight any proposed military involvement there. To address those concerns, Obama finished his statement with a reflection on the country’s recent role in overseas conflicts, declaring that American safety will take precedence over any other factors: But what’s clear from the last decade is the need for the United States to ask hard questions before we take action abroad, particularly military action. The most important question we should all be asking, the issue that we have to keep front and center, the issue that I keep front and center, is, what is in the national security interest of the United States of America? As commander in chief, that’s what I stay focused on. As Americans, that’s what all of us should be focused on. And going forward, we will continue to consult closely with Congress, we will keep the American people informed, we will remain vigilant, and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect the security of the United States and the safety of the American people.
Joshua Rosenblat is a Summer 2014 In These Times intern.