The Costly Lessons of War

President Obama on Tuesday called on Congress to pass a resolution authorizing the use of force against ISIS terrorists, saying the US will “continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks.” However, he also acknowledged the “costly lessons” learned over the past 13 years of war, noting that for the first time since 9/11 American troops are not engaged in combat in Afghanistan. Instead, “we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition,” he said. The air campaign in Iraq and Syria is “stopping ISIL’s advance,” but the US is leading a broad coalition to degrade and destroy the terrorist group rather than “getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East.” Obama also spoke out strongly against Russian aggression in Ukraine, saying that it is “America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters” thanks to sanctions imposed by the US and its allies. Obama said he will “keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran,” but he also promised to veto any new sanctions bill, which he says would “all but guarantee that diplomacy fails—alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again.” (State of the Union transcript.)