Conservative Media Invent Political Motive Behind Syrian Airstrikes

Conservative Media Invent Political Motive Behind Syrian Airstrikes

››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL

Right-wing media are claiming that President Obama's decision to target the Islamic State and Khorasan terror groups with airstrikes is a political move designed to give Democrats a boost in the 2014 midterm elections.

U.S. Launches Airstrikes Against Terror Groups In Syria

Airstrikes Against Islamic State Militants Begin In Syria. On September 23, the U.S. began striking Islamic State targets in Syria. CNN reported:

They're the first strikes against the terror group inside the country since President Barack Obama's announcement this month that he was prepared to expand the American efforts beyond targets in Iraq. [CNN, 9/23/14]

CNN: "For Weeks, Intelligence And Military Targeting Specialists Have Been Working Around The Clock" To Review Targets. CNN also noted the significant amount of planning that went into identifying "risks" and "rewards" of potential targets to outline the attack strategy:

For weeks, intelligence and military targeting specialists have been working around the clock on a list of targets, the officials said. It is unlikely that the President reviewed all the targets individual[y], but was presented broad guidance with analysis about the risks of bombing inside Syria, as well as the rewards in terms of attacking ISIS. [CNN, 9/23/14]

Strikes Were Designed To Surprise Al Qaeda Offshoot Khorasan And Avert Terror Plot. Officials announced that U.S. airstrikes hit members of an al Qaeda offshoot called the Khorasan group, who posed an 'imminent' threat" to the U.S. and had "obtained materials and were working on new improvised explosive devices that would be hard to detect." The attack reportedly targeted two key Khorasan leaders as well as munitions production and command facilities. According to CNN, the attack was designed "to surprise the group by mixing strikes against it with strikes against ISIS targets":

Among the targets of U.S. strikes across Syria early Tuesday was the Khorasan Group -- a collection of senior al Qaeda members who have moved into Syria.

[...]

The strikes targeted "training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communication building and command and control facilities," the military said in a statement.

The group was actively plotting against a U.S. homeland target and Western targets, a senior U.S. official told CNN on Tuesday. The United States hoped to surprise the group by mixing strikes against it with strikes against ISIS targets.

[...]

The U.S. Central Command's use of the phrase "imminent attack planning" may explain why the group was a first wave target. The Middle Eastern security source told CNN Sunday that al Fadhli was believed to be operating near the town of Binnish in Idlib province -- which would have put him in the general area of the airstrikes. Still unknown: whether al Fadhli and al Juhni survived to continue that planning. [CNN, 9/23/14]

Right-Wing Media Politicize Timing Of Airstrikes

Rush Limbaugh: "Barack Obama Went To War With ISIS For The Senate." On the September 24 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh suggested strikes against ISIS are intended to help Democrats keep control of the Senate in the 2014 elections.

LIMBAUGH: Bush supposedly went to Iraq for oil, right? So I guess we could say that Barack Obama went to war with ISIS for the Senate. It looks exactly like that's what's going on. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show9/24/14]

Fox Contributor John Bolton Suggested Timing Of Attack Was More About Politics Than National Security. On the September 23 edition of America's Newsroom, former ambassador to the UN and Fox contributor John Bolton claimed that the timing of the September 23 airstrikes "had more to do with the President's politics" than national security:

BOLTON: I have the sinking feeling, based on six years of performance, that particularly the timing of this attack last night had more to do for the President's politics than for national security. We're six weeks away from the election; his performance on national security issues has gone into the tank. And I think this is very convenient that he's coming to the UN today.

CO-HOST BILL HEMMER: Are you making the case that this would not have happened if he were not backed up against the midterm election in six weeks?

BOLTON: I think he wishes he didn't have to go through with this. I think the time to strike ISIS was much earlier than now. But now that he's started, better late than never, I agree with that. But will it be sustained? [Fox News, America's Newsroom9/23/14]

Outnumbered Hosts Questioned Whether Timing Of Airstrikes May Be Political. On the September 24 edition of Outnumbered, co-host Sandra Smith emphasized how close the timing of the airstrikes was to the midterm elections, while co-host Andrea Tantaros lauded Bolton's view that Obama wouldn't have taken action if not for negative poll numbers on foreign policy:

SMITH: While we're questioning the effectiveness of these airstrikes in Syria -- and Iraq -- I guess we should also be questioning the other side of this and question their effectiveness politically. And the timing of these airstrikes shortly before the midterm elections.

[...]

TANTAROS: And Sandra I'm glad you brought that up. And we don't have time for the John Bolton sound, but Ambassador John Bolton was on and he said if you look what the administration is doing - and Ed reported on that - inversions last night. Climate change at the UN today. This is almost a box-checking, base-ginning up election type of thing, Kevin, where I don't think the president would be in this position today if those two beheading videos wouldn't have come out and it seemed like he had to do something so this is a great opportunity to do it and say 'look, I have sinking poll numbers on foreign policy but I am acting against ISIS.'" [Fox News, Outnumbered, 9/23/14]

Sean Hannity: Obama Is "Launching Airstrikes So It Will Help Democrats." On the September 23 edition of his show, Sean Hannity claimed Obama is "basically checking the box, launching airstrikes -- launching airstrikes so it will help Democrats." Hannity also asserted that Obama let cities in Iraq fall to the Islamic State until the polls influenced him to act. [Fox News, Hannity9/23/14]

Fox Nation: "Were The First Wave Of Syrian Strikes On ISIS Obama's 'October Surprise'?" Fox Nation promoted John Bolton's suggestion that the airstrikes in Syria were a political decision on Obama's part, and hyped Fox contributor Juan Williams' suggestion that the strikes may be an "October Surprise" and help Obama and Democrats at the polls:

[FoxNews.com, 9/24/14]

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