After taking grief for saying the US lacks a strategy in the fight against the Islamic State, President Obama sought to fix that yesterday by lining up nine nations at the NATO summit in a new coalition. The other nine are Britain, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Turkey, reports the BBC. As the Guardian points out, one key weakness is that only one Muslim nation—Turkey—is in the mix, which is why John Kerry will head to the Middle East to try to add more before a UN Security Council meeting later this month. For Obama, the strategy "echoes the war on terror developed by his predecessor, George W. Bush, more than a decade ago," observes the New York Times.
Obama's plan: “You initially push them back, you systematically degrade their capabilities, you narrow their scope of action, you slowly shrink the space, the territory that they may control, you take out their leadership." For now, that means continued airstrikes—though not in Syria, at least for now—and more support for groups fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Success will likely hinge on the Arab component: getting a government in place in Iraq, and then convincing leaders in Baghdad to cooperate with nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, writes Doyle McManus at the LA Times. But he sees it as a "sensible beginning—and an important test of whether US military intervention with a light footprint can be made to work."