(NBC News) - Sunni militants fighting for control didn’t seem to gain any ground in the last 24 hours in their march toward Baghdad, and President Obama has decided – no air strikes for now.
The President says the troops he’s sending to Iraq will be helping the Iraqi military – not fighting themselves.
Up to 300 military advisers are headed to Iraq to help its military choose targets – not to fight. “That does not foreshadow a larger commitment to actually fight in Iraq. That would not be effective,” said President Barack Obama.
“Foreign military intervention, especially if led by the United States, will only harden the resolve of the radicals and unite the less religiously motivated,” said Iraq War Army Veteran Matt Southworth.
The President’s decision to hold off on airstrikes for now got mixed reaction on Capitol Hill. “Once again, he has announced step A without thinking through the consequences of step B,” said Senate Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“There’s the beginning of an outlines of what I hope will be a concrete plan we can rally around,” said Senator Marco Rubio, (R) Florida.
“Many of us who have been who have been very skeptical on plans to intervene in the mideast in the past I think are gonna be open to listening to the President’s case,” said Senator Chris Murphy, (D) Connecticut.
Secretary of State John Kerry heads to the Middle East this weekend, including Iraq, to rally support.
Meantime, the fiercest battles continue at Iraq’s largest oil refinery raising fears that this war half a world away could soon affect prices here at home. “You will feel it at the gas pump, you will feel it in your wallet eventually,” Senator Lindsey Graham/ (R) South Carolina
Privately, U.S. officials fear Maliki’s not the one to lead a coalition government. Publicly the administration says that’s up to the Iraqi people.