We’re just a little over a month removed from President Obama’s national address in which he promised that American-led efforts would “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State forces. At the time, one of the more curious features of the (already vague) renascent American military effort was its namelessness.
It makes sense. The general timbre of the announced campaign was meant to convey the idea that commitment is being avoided. There would be no American boots on the ground to battle a foe whose “specific plotting” against America “had not yet [been] detected.” Plus, as we all know, once you give something a name, it’s yours.
One month and hundreds of airstrikes later, the debate over the efficacy of the operation continues. Over the weekend, as Islamic State bombers struck Baghdad, the president’s critics declared that the battle is being lost. Senator John McCain, unsurprisingly, called for “a fundamental re-evaluation of what we’re doing.” The news only got worse from there.
On Monday, the Iraqi army abandoned a major base in Hit to ISIS, the third base in three weeks, giving rise to fears that Baghdad and its airport would soon be in play.
On Tuesday, the United States hosted what was characterized as “an unusual session” of over 20 defense ministers at Andrews Air Force Base. The objective appeared to be reassuring America’s unsteady allies. The White House touted successes (like the securing of the Mosul Dam and the breaking of the siege of Mount Sinjar), but warned that there would be both strikes and gutters in the campaign against the Islamic State. Nevertheless, alarm had become the greater watchword.
On Wednesday, according to Fox News, the operation finally got a name: Inherent Resolve. The American invasion of Normandy was called Operation Neptune. The failed attempt to extract by force 52 American diplomats from Tehran during the Iranian hostage crisis was called Operation Eagle Claw.
The not-so-subtle context with Inherent Resolve is that this operation requires patience, determination, and commitment that America already has by nature (or is Inherent). But a month past its formal inception and with a weary and wary set of allies looking on, this christening smacks of a sales job at best and a study in panic at worst.