President Barack Obama addressed the nation Friday, announcing that he would not be putting U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq, and that any further decisions will take several more days of planning.
“Although events on the ground in Iraq have been happening very quickly, our ability to plan…is going to take several days, so people should not anticipate that this is something that is going to happen overnight,” Obama said in a statement at the White House.
Obama’s overarching message during his White House address was that he would prefer to rely on a political solution that involved Iraqi leaders making concerted efforts to overcome sectarian divides.
“The United States will do our part, but understand that ultimately it is up to Iraq as a sovereign nation to solve their problems,” he said.
The situation in Iraq has quickly devolved as Sunni fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) have seized Mosul–Iraq’s second largest city. Now these militants are reportedly only 40 miles from Shiite-led Baghdad, as Iraqi troop defections limit a quick response from the army.
To make matters even more complicated, Iranian revolutionary guard units have reportedly also entered Iraq to help the Baghdad government fight the insurgents.
If Obama were to take new action in Iraq, it would be a notable departure from his 2004 campaign wherein he ran as a staunch opponent to the original invasion initiated by the Bush administration. The authorization to use military force in Iraq passed by Congress in 2002 has not officially expired, so some political pundits have theorized that Obama could use this to justify quick action.
On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner said Obama is “taking a nap” as terrorists capture increasingly more of the country.
Obama responded to Boehner’s comments, saying the U.S. is prepared to take military action when its national security interests are threatened.
“I don’t rule out anything” when it comes to helping Iraq deal with insurgents, said Obama.
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—By CNBC.com, wires contributed to this story.