President Obama has authorized two targeted airstrikes in Iraq “to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death.” The President went on to explain the actions the United States is taking, and why:
First, I said in June — as the terrorist group ISIL began an advance across Iraq — that the United States would be prepared to take targeted military action in Iraq if and when we determined that the situation required it.
Second, at the request of the Iraqi government — we’ve begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain. As ISIL has marched across Iraq, it has waged a ruthless campaign against innocent Iraqis.
The President said that there are thousands of Yezidi people hiding on a mountain without food or water. Many are starving to death or dying of thirst. The ISIL forces are calling for the systematic destruction of all Yezidi people:
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In recent days, Yezidi women, men and children from the area of Sinjar have fled for their lives. And thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — are now hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs. They’re without food, they’re without water. People are starving. And children are dying of thirst. Meanwhile, ISIL forces below have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yezidi people, which would constitute genocide.
The President reiterated that we cannot get involved in every crisis around the world:
I’ve said before, the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world.
We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide. That’s what we’re doing on that mountain. Well today, America is coming to help.
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Obama concluded his speech about our responsibility as Americans:
But when the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action. That’s my responsibility as Commander-in-Chief. And when many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out, and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action. That is our responsibility as Americans. That’s a hallmark of American leadership. That’s who we are.
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