Coalition Members React to President Obama's ISIS Speech

Last Updated on September 11, 2014.

On September 10, President Obama addressed the nation and outlined his plan for combating ISIS. Win Without War coalition members released the following statements concerning the President’s speech and the expanded U.S. military presence in Iraq.

American Friends Service Committee

“Military approaches don’t work. Yet today, driven by fear, support for war is once again rising on the belief that violence can end violence.  

There was no question in 2001 that the acts carried out on 9/11 were deplorable. There was no question that the Taliban was a cruel regime, or that Saddam Hussein was an authoritarian leader. But the choice we made as a country and a global community—to use military means to “solve” these wrongs—has not worked.

There is no question that ISIS is a violent group, committing gross human rights abuses in Syria and Iraq. And there is no question that military action will perpetuate a devastating cycle of violence. We can’t bomb Iraq and Syria into moderation. We can’t bomb them into stability. We can’t arm different factions to fight their way to peace. 

Viable alternatives to violence exist. Sustained and transparent support for badly needed economic, political, and social changes are a start. But before we can address the root causes of war, we need to stop feeding the cycle of violence. That means not only stopping direct U.S. military action, but also suspending all training, arming, and financing of government and non-government factions in Iraq and Syria. 

We need to turn back to the global community—not to authorize another war through the UN, but to demand an end to all influx of weapons on all sides of these conflicts.”

Conference of Major Superiors of Men

“Last night the President laid out another plan primarily dependent on violence and military action, although parts three and four had some good ideas. But as people who see all persons as children of God, we have a unique vantage point to see and commit to alternatives to war. We all need to ask: what do we get and who do we become from bombing, and what are the alternatives?

The brutal violence demands a response and people need protection. But we need the fuller truth. We’ve seen ten years of U.S. war in Iraq. The Iraq of today is in large part a legacy of that war. Bombing will continue the bloodshed and enable violent, anti-government groups like the Islamic State to recruit supporters.

On Sept. 8th, Pope Francis said: ‘War is senseless slaughter. It drags people into a spiral of violence which then proves difficult to control; it tears down what generations have labored to build up, and it sets the scene for even greater injustices and conflicts. War is never a necessity, nor is it inevitable. Another way can always be found: the way of dialogue, encounter and the sincere search for truth.'”

Credo Action: The brutal truth about the ISIS, Syria and U.S. intervention

“As horrifying as the terrible savagery of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants is, it does not change the fact that the U.S. government’s history of military intervention in the region has been an unmitigated disaster — including its role in providing many of the arms now in the hands of ISIS. The sad and simple truth is that the United States cannot lead any intervention without making a terrible situation even worse. And at this point in the conflict there is no viable campaign for peace and stability initiated by any other international or regional actor that the U.S. can join in support.
For this reason, the United States cannot lead a military response to ISIS — doing so would only make the situation worse. Don’t bomb Syria or escalate the conflict on the ground by providing arms and training that may later be put to use advancing the repulsive agenda of ISIS.
CREDO firmly believes that much of what the President has proposed requires Congressional review and approval. Having said that, Congressional approval, while procedurally appropriate, cannot transform bad policies into a good ones, and CREDO would urge a no vote on military intervention in Iraq and Syria as currently understood.”

Just Foreign Policy Statement in Response to President Obama’s Statement on Plans for Military Escalation in Iraq & Syria

Washington, DC- Just Foreign Policy released the following statement by Policy Director Robert Naiman, in response to President Obama’s statement concerning his plans for U.S. military escalation in Iraq and Syria:
We are deeply troubled by President Obama’s apparent claims that he does not need and will not seek Congressional authorization to continue airstrikes in Iraq and expand them to Syria, nor to expand the arming and training of insurgents in Syria, which arming has contributed to the present strength of ISIS. Obama was right when he told the Boston Globe as a Presidential candidate in December 2007, “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” President Obama was right to seek Congressional authorization for bombing Syria last year. He is wrong not to seek authorization now.
 We are deeply disappointed that some House Democrats, including the House Democratic leadership, who voted with Representative McGovern and Representative Lee and the overwhelming majority of the House in July to insist that the President come to Congress for authorization for “sustained combat” in Iraq, now claim that President does not need authorization to expand the use of force, and that the House need not consider such authorization, while they try to quietly slip funding for arming and training Syrian insurgents into must pass legislation, although such funding is part of the President’s plan for military escalation that he and they now claim does not need to be authorized. We call on all Members of Congress to oppose any funding for any part of the President’s proposed military escalation, including for the arming and training of Syrian insurgents, unless and until Congress has authorized it following a robust and transparent debate. We call on Congress to carefully scrutinize and sharply restrict and monitor any plan to arm Syrian insurgents, including by restrictions that the House has already passed, such as the ban on supplying MANPADS to Syrian insurgents.
Just Foreign Policy welcomes the statement of the Congressional Progressive Caucus: 
“Congress must weigh in when it comes to confronting ISIL through military action. The voices of the American people must be heard during a full and robust debate in Congress on the use of military force. Speaker Boehner should put legislation authorizing military action on the floor of the House of Representatives before Congress leaves for the upcoming district work period.”
We call on the House Liberty Caucus and all Members of Congress – who are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution – to demand a debate and vote on military escalation before the Congress adjourns. We call on all Members of Congress to reaffirm that the President needs Congressional authorization to use force in the absence of an emergency created by an attack or imminent threat of attack on the United States, as stated in the War Powers Resolution. We call on all Members of Congress, and the President, to re-affirm the 60 day limit of the War Powers Resolution for the use of force without Congressional authorization. We call on the President to disavow reports in the press that he intends to invoke the 2002 or 2001 authorizations for the use of force. We call on the President to disavow claims that he can embark on a multi-year, multi-country war without Congressional authorization, a usurpation of Congressional power that the War Powers Resolution was expressly designed to prevent. We call on all Members of Congress to repudiate such claims. Just as there is no provision in the Constitution for a “recess war,” there is no provision which suspends the Constitution in the run-up to a Congressional election.  
If Congress passes an authorization of force, we urge that the authorization be narrow, as Human Rights First has called for, including naming specific groups that may be targeted, geographic limits, prohibiting the use of ground troops, and a sunset provision, so that authorization will have to be re-considered in the future before this becomes another endless war.

MoveOn calls for debate before another Middle East war

Statement of Anna Galland, executive director of Civic Action, in response to President Obama’s speech to the nation:
“Few if any decisions a country makes are as consequential as the decision to go to war. Such a decision must not be taken lightly, or made in haste.
We remember well the lives lost and damage done by the ill-gotten, ill-informed rush to war in Iraq in 2003. Many of the same people who drove us to war then are the ones rattling sabers now.
While we appreciate President Obama’s commitment to avoid sending troops into combat, his proposed approach poses significant risks, including escalation and unintended consequences, such as boosting violent extremism and terrorist recruitment. There is the risk of a quagmire. The White House says this new war could last for three years — or longer.
Because of the broad, extended, and open-ended nature of this proposed expansion of U.S. military force in the Middle East, before moving forward Congress and the American public must play a role, ask the tough questions, and consider a comprehensive list of sound alternatives.
Bottom line: Congress and the American people must have a full, vigorous, and open debate before the U.S. embarks upon another war in the Middle East.”

Press Release: NETWORK Responds to President Obama’s Authorization of Military Action to Counter the Actions of ISIL

Washington DC: NETWORK today released the following statement regarding President Obama’s speech last evening:

“Today, we hear the voices of our sisters and brothers caught in the path of ISIL’s genocidal actions, and we are horrified by their firsthand accounts of what they are enduring. We agree with President Obama that ISIL poses a severe threat to people throughout that region, and that the killings and brutality must stop.

We cannot ignore ISIL’s brutality, and we hear a moral call to respond. We also continue to believe that the true way forward to a permanent peace is through diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. We applaud the administration for its work in those areas and call for even stronger efforts.

We also understand that we need some kind of immediate response to save countless lives now threatened. This response should be narrow and specific rather than actions that would lead to more violence.

We are encouraged by the fact that the Iraqis are forming an inclusive government, something we have called for. We hope that further U.S. actions will focus on a multinational approach to achieving peace. Limited military actions may help in the immediate crisis, but military power is ultimately not the solution.  As always, humanitarian and diplomatic actions are, by far, the most effective ways to achieve a lasting peace.”

Peace Action Responds to Obama’s ISIS Plan

Washington, DC — September 10, 2014 — In response to President Obama’s speech on dealing with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. made the following statements: 
“We agree with the president that there is no military solution to the problems posed by ISIS. And yet his proposed strategy relies far too heavily on the use of military force. It’s time to stop the bombing and escalation and use the other tools of U.S. foreign policy — working with allies in cutting off weapons, oil and funding streams for starters — which will be much more active in dealing with ISIS,” said Kevin Martin, Peace Action’s executive director.
“True international support to deal with ISIS requires UN action and regional diplomacy,” observed Paul Kawika Martin, the political director of Peace Action. 
“History shows that US arms tends to fall into the wrong hands like in Afghanistan and now ISIS.  More weapons in the mideast is not the solution and is more like pouring fuel on a fire,” concluded Paul Kawika Martin.
Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan and Iran.

Peace Action West: Stop Escalation in Syria and Iraq

“The violence by ISIS has shocked people’s consciences. We do need a strong global response that protects the victims and addresses the political factors driving the rise of ISIS. That’s why need to support a global diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic effort, not U.S. military escalation. U.S. military action only adds fuel to the sectarian fire.
A U.S. presence exacerbates the Sunni-Shia sectarian divide that is the source of ISIS’s strength. Each bomb dropped gives violent extremists a powerful recruitment pretext. It’s time to stop repeating our mistakes. It was the earlier U.S. military occupation that helped create ISIS — then called al-Qaeda in Iraq. Sending more and more arms to the region has also backfired as those weapons fall into the wrong hands.
On the anniversary of 9/11 we can look back and see that over a decade of the “war on terror” has not destroyed terrorism or terror groups. And it’s cost our country too much: in lives, in a drag on our domestic economy, and in a blow to U.S. moral standing.
The crisis in Syria and Iraq deserves a response that is both thoughtful and forceful. Parts of the President’s plan are worthy of support. For example, cutting off funds to ISIS and blocking the flow of foreign fighters to the region could be be powerful. We can also increase humanitarian aide including food, medical care, and housing. That not only saves lives – it’s a smart preventative move to prevent the crisis from spreading.”

Veterans For Peace Response to Obama’s ISIL Plan: More War is Not a Plan or a Solution

“Veterans For Peace is disappointed but not surprised by the so called strategy President Obama presented last night. We are disappointed because it is more of the same. The U.S. will continue to be “the greatest purveyor of violence” on the earth. It will continue to follow a failed policy of war-making in the Middle East. It will continue to waste precious financial resources which should be directed toward human needs and to support the U.S. economy.It will continue to put U.S. service members into harm’s way when other solutions are possible and it will continue to take the lives of innocent people, most of whom will undoubtedly be women and children who are always disproportionately impacted by war.

We are not surprised because it has been made clear to us that our leaders are not interested in finding solutions other than war to solve international conflicts. After thirteen years of war what has been accomplished? Iraq and Afghanistan are in shambles, the Taliban has not been defeated, al Qaeda has further decentralized to at least thirty countries, ISIL has emerged as a power of sorts in Iraq and Syria and a State Department report outlines that terrorism increased by 43% in 2013. By any objective measure, U.S. foreign policy in the Iraq and Afghanistan from Bush to Obama has been a failure. Yet more war is put forth as the answer, even though President Obama himself in the recent past said there is not a military solution to the violence in Iraq and last night explained that ISIL does not pose an immediate threat to the U.S. Why then do we continue down this path

There are solutions to confronting ISIL which do not include U.S. military action.

  1. Stop the airstrikes because the Sunni leaders and militia, who President Obama acknowledges must be persuaded to break with ISIL, see the U.S. as acting as the air force for the Kurds and Shia against Sunnis. The driving force for the Sunni-ISIL alliance is the alienation of Sunnis from Baghdad by the previous Iraqi administration. Bombing Sunnis will not help mend this relationship.
  2. Stop the slippery slope of sending troops to Iraq and stop sending more weapons that fuel the conflict killing more civilians and ignoring human rights violations committed by “allies.”This includes pressuring countries to stop supporting and selling arms to ISIL and stopping all black market weapons sales.
  3. Make diplomacy the number one priority. Since it is clear there is no military solution, seriously engage with everyone in the region, including Iran who is needed to force the Iraqi government to be more inclusive with Sunni leaders. Without an inclusive government in Iraq there is no way to effectively confront ISIL.
  4. Initiate a new effort at building a broad diplomatic solution in the United Nations to use diplomatic and financial pressure to stop countries from financing and arming ISIL and other fighters in Syria. An arms embargo on all sides should be on the long-term agenda.
  5. Make a real effort to restart UN negotiations to end the civil war in Syria. Set aside preconceived demands and work to end the violence. Once that is achieved the people of Syria can begin to chart their destiny.
  6. Massively increase humanitarian efforts through the UN and any other means. Real and effective efforts to relieve suffering will go a long way in convincing people to break with ISIL. More U.S. bombings and killings will only confirm that the U.S. is the enemy of Islam.

President Obama outlined a strategy no different from what the U.S. has done for the past thirteen years. It is not a plan for success, it is a gamble that war will work this time when it has spectacularly failed thus far. We at Veterans For Peace challenge the American people to ask whose interests does endless war serve? Who is paying for these wars, whose children are dying in these wars and who is getting paid to finance and provide weapons for these wars? We the people are being driven by manipulated fear to support polices that are not in our interest. Peace is harder than war, but it is cheaper in blood and treasure. After thirteen years it is time to take another path, the path of peace.”

Women’s Action for New Directions: Response to President’s Sept. 10, 2014 Speech

“We are horrified by the unfolding events in Iraq and Syria: beheadings of non-combatants – including American journalists – mass executions, and the rape and enslavement of women. These actions deserve a strong response from the international community. However, we are deeply concerned about the prospect of another protracted war.

It would be naïve to think that the overwhelming power of the U.S. military will lead to a solution. On the contrary, American firepower will only serve to broaden and deepen the war. Airstrikes and military intervention will surely further inflame and energize the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and sharpen their anti-American focus. The possibility for political solutions will shrink as war expands and the hope of building a sustainable peace becomes more remote. Meanwhile the United States will become more embroiled in a war with costly sacrifices in blood and treasure.

Instead, what is needed are strong international efforts engaging the United Nations and international and regional partners focusing on unified economic and diplomatic strategies that include working to cut off funding and weapons flow to ISIS; addressing root causes of unrest in society in order to stem popular support of ISIS; increasing humanitarian assistance; and working within the region to establish political solutions.

In addition, any response must take women’s needs into account.  It is also crucial for the international community to recognize the role that women in the region have played in combating extremism, and to ensure that women are a part of any processes to bring peace to the region.”

September 11, 2014