“Right now, ISIL’s primary focus is consolidating territory in the Middle East region to establish their own Islamic State.” Yes, but they have made it abundantly clear that that is not their only goal, and that they desire ultimately to strike inside the United States. We are not at war with them, but they most assuredly are at war with us.
“Airstrikes in Iraq: What You Need to Know,” by Ben Rhodes, White House Blog, August 11, 2014 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
President Obama has authorized the U.S. military to execute targeted airstrikes in Iraq.
The President takes no decision more seriously than the use of military force. So it’s worth taking a few minutes to make sure you understand exactly what is happening in Iraq right now, who is involved, and why we are taking action. Here are a few answers to some key questions Americans may be asking:…
7. Is ISIL more dangerous than al-Qaeda right now?
While both are terrorist forces, they have different ambitions. Al-Qaeda’s principal ambition is to launch attacks against the west and U.S. homeland. That’s the direct threat that we have taken direct action against for many years. Right now, ISIL’s primary focus is consolidating territory in the Middle East region to establish their own Islamic State. So they’re different organizations with different objectives.
8. Are we at war with ISIL? Will we be sending troops back to Iraq?
No. There is no U.S. military solution to the larger situation in Iraq. The United States’ chief goals are to protect our personnel and facilities, and to prevent a potential act of genocide. That is the scope of these operations. As the President said, we will support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, but no American combat troops will be returning to fight in Iraq.
9. What’s our plan moving forward?
We will protect our citizens, and we will work with Iraqis and the international community to address the humanitarian crisis facing the Yezidi people.
As we carry out that mission, we will pursue a strategy that empowers Iraqi leaders to come together, forge an inclusive government, and build security forces that can fight back against threats like ISIL. The Iraqi people have named a new President, a new Speaker of Parliament, and a new Prime Minister–an important step towards forming a government that can unite communities in Iraq. The U.S. will work with this new government and other countries in the region on a broader counterterrorism strategy moving forward.