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Essential Reads

Many Missteps in Assessment of ISIS Threat

September 30, 2014
Peter Baker, Eric Schmitt | The New York Times
By late last year, classified American intelligence reports painted an increasingly ominous picture of a growing threat from Sunni extremists in Syria, according to senior intelligence and military officials. Just as worrisome, they said, were reports of deteriorating readiness and morale among troops next door in Iraq.
Essential Reads

Netanyahu links Islamic State, Hamas in UN speech

September 30, 2014
Hannah Allam | McClatchy News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have adopted a simple strategy for deflecting international criticism of Israel’s summer offensive, which killed more 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza: Tie it all to the Islamic State.
Essential Reads

Use of force against Islamic State is justified, Obama tells U.N.

September 25, 2014
Kathleen Hennessey, Christi Parsons | Tribune Newspapers
President Obama emphatically defended his decision to expand the air campaign against violent extremists in the Middle East, vowing before world leaders Wednesday that he would speak “the language of force” with terrorists who threaten America and its friends around the world.
Essential Reads

War on Islamic State will be long and difficult, top defense officials tell Senate

September 17, 2014
Nancy Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers
In their first public briefing since President Barack Obama laid out his new strategy for defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the nation’s two top defense officials on Tuesday provided few details of their plans and no guarantees of success.
Essential Reads

Kerry Enlists Saudi King in War of Ideas Against ISIS

September 16, 2014
Michael Crowley | TIME Magazine
On the night of Sept. 11, John Kerry arrived at the royal palace here for a meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz makes his home in this coastal city during the summer months, and the palace is a testament to his country’s vast oil wealth. Kerry entered through a vast atrium beneath a towering powder dome perhaps a hundred feet high.
Essential Reads

Arab Nations Offer to Fight ISIS From Air

September 15, 2014
David Sanger, Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt | The New York Times
The Obama administration said Sunday that “several” Arab nations had offered to join in airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but any sustained military campaign does not appear imminent, and is likely to require an even more significant commitment from other nations and fighting forces in the region.
Essential Reads

For US, finding right allies in Syria will be tough

September 12, 2014
Hannah Allam | McClatchy Newspapers
In an effort to map out the ideological spectrum of Syria’s various rebel groups, Turkish and American officials used a color-coded scheme: green for trusted friends, red for clear-cut enemies and yellow for those in the middle.
Essential Reads

A President in Prime-Time Command After 2 Years of Frustration

September 11, 2014
Michael Scherer | TIME
The central message of Wednesday night’s prime-time reveal of a new U.S. war in the Middle East came a few minutes in. President Barack Obama squared to the camera, slowed his delivery and filled each syllable with all the gravity he had. “I know many Americans are concerned about these threats,” he said, pausing briefly between sentences. “Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve.”
Essential Reads

New Military Campaign Extends a Legacy of War

September 11, 2014
Peter Baker | The New York Times
In ordering a sustained military campaign against Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, President Obama on Wednesday night effectively set a new course for the remainder of his presidency and may have ensured that he would pass his successor a volatile and incomplete war, much as his predecessor left one for him.
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