Lt. Gen. William Mayville, the Pentagon’s top war planner, today sought to lower expectations for the current US air war in Iraq, insisting the attacks are having only very limited effects on ISIS operations, and a very temporary impact.
Lt. Gen. Mayville insisted the current air war did not mean ISIS was “contained” or even that its momentum was effectively stalled, and that the current strikes are mostly focused on keeping ISIS from moving directly on Irbil.
When President Obama first announced the new air war Thursday, the strikes were said to be focused on stopping the Irbil offensive, though since then he has broadened the goals of the war considerably, aiming to protect Baghdad, stopping ISIS from taking key infrastructure, and preventing ISIS from maintaining its caliphate.
In that context, Lt. Gen. Mayville’s comments must be seen not only as tempering expectations but also as laying the groundwork for further escalation of the war, and advancing the narrative that the already large US presence is insufficient for those growing goals.
Its undeniable that Lt. Gen. Mayville’s assessment in that regard is quite true, and that even 108 warplanes is insufficient for the goals now laid out of stopping ISIS nationwide. Yet it is left unspoken just how massive the US presence would have to be for these goals, with the public expected to just accept “more” as a general trend.
Indeed, with President Obama insisting there isn’t a “military solution” at all, his decision to keep escalating that military action is all the more puzzling, and suggests that getting the military operation going in the country is an end unto itself, with escalation to match whatever goals they finally settle on something to be worried about at a later date.