UPDATE, 6:03 AM: A senior administration official that spoke with reporters after Obama’s speech stressed that no airstrikes have taken place at this time in Iraq, but would be postured to take targeted military action.
President Obama announced late Thursday night that he authorized air strikes to assist the Iraqi people in their fight against terrorist forces of the Islamic State.
He also announced aid to the Yazidi people in Iraq who are trapped and starving on Mount Sinjar.
He explained that the United States has a “mandate” to act in order to “prevent an act of genocide,” although he cautioned that America would “act carefully and responsibly.”
“Today America is coming to help,” he said.
Obama acknowledged that he ran for office vowing to get America out of Iraq and vowed that there would be no combat troops sent into the country.
“As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” he insisted.
Obama closed his statement with an examination of America’s responsibility to act in the world to help fight terrorism.
“My fellow Americans, the world is confronted by many challenges, and while America has never been able to right every wrong, America has made the world a more secure and prosperous place,” he said.
Obama also reminded American citizens of his duty to act.
“When the lives of American citizens are at risk we will take action. That’s my responsibility as Commander-in-Chief, and when many thousands of innocent civilians are in danger of being wiped out and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action,” he said. “That is our responsibility as Americans. It’s a hallmark of American leadership.”