It was so much easier when Obama was running a military “sneakers on the ground” campaign in Iraq and Syria where there was no official confirmation of the thousands of “military advisors” engaging directly with various known and unknown adversaries.
However, a recent surge of media reports by mainstream publications exposing America’s illicit troops operating in the middle eastern combat zones has made a total mockery of the latest US attempt at clandestine ops, and as a result earlier today the White House was forced to admit it would backtrack on its countless promises there would be “no boots on the ground” in Iraq.
Did we say countless, we actually counted some of them – there are at least 16 specific instances in just the past two years in which Obama promised to not do what he just did:
Remarks before meeting with Baltic State leaders, Aug. 30, 2013
“In no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long-term campaign. But we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria, but others around the world, understand that the international community cares about maintaining this chemical weapons ban and norm. So again, I repeat, we’re not considering any open-ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach.”
Remarks in the Rose Garden, Aug. 31, 2013
“After careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets. This would not be an open-ended intervention. We would not put boots on the ground. Instead, our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope.”
Interview on Bloomberg View, Feb, 27, 2014
“We are doing everything we can to see how we can do that and how we can resource it. But I’ve looked at a whole lot of game plans, a whole lot of war plans, a whole bunch of scenarios, and nobody has been able to persuade me that us taking large-scale military action even absent boots on the ground, would actually solve the problem.”
Address to the Nation on Syria, Sept. 10, 2014
“I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground.”
Remarks at the White House, Feb. 11, 2015
“The resolution we’ve submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war, like Afghanistan or Iraq. … As I’ve said before, I’m convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East. That’s not in our national security interest, and it’s not necessary for us to defeat ISIL. Local forces on the ground who know their countries best are best positioned to take the ground fight to ISIL, and that’s what they’re doing.”
Remarks at the Pentagon, July 6, 2015
“There are no current plans to do so. That’s not something that we currently discussed. I’ve always said that I’m going to do what’s necessary to protect the homeland. One of the principles that we all agree on, though, and I pressed folks pretty hard because in these conversations with my military advisers I want to make sure I’m getting blunt and unadulterated, uncensored advice. But in every one of the conversations that we’ve had, the strong consensus is that in order for us to succeed long-term in this fight against ISIL, we have to develop local security forces that can sustain progress. It is not enough for us to simply send in American troops to temporarily set back organizations like ISIL, but to then, as soon as we leave, see that void filled once again with extremists.”
And many more such remarks; for the full list see here.
However, Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s teleprompter was still warm from this unexpected announcement of a dramatic change in the White House’s narrative, when the problems rapidly emerged.
First, it was the core Iraqi Shi’ite militias who quickly denounced the planned deployment, and threatened any US special forces found on the ground with swift death: “We will chase and fight any American force deployed in Iraq,” said Jafaar Hussaini, a spokesman for one of the Shi’ite armed groups, Kata’ib Hezbollah. “Any such American force will become a primary target for our group. We fought them before and we are ready to resume fighting.”
Then it was Iraq’s new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, who also rejected the need for US troops: “We do not need foreign ground combat forces on Iraqi land,” Abadi said in a statement.
One wonders under what jurisdiction the Obama administration has decided to send troops to Iraq, if both the country’s sovereign government and its de facto army are making it very clear that the US is not welcome.
And while we wait to find out just how Russia will respond to this very clear escalation in what is a proxy war that has now shifted from the air and the sea to its final destination, the ground, another stumbling block has emerged for Obama now that his private war in Iraq (and Syria) has been exposed to the world: Congress, and particularly members of his own party, Democrats who suddenly feel betrayed by their progressive, pacifist, Nobel-peace prize winning president.
According to the National Review, White House press secretary Josh Earnest urged lawmakers to pass new legislation providing Obama with the explicit authority to counter ISIS. “This effort is serious, and should be the focus of serious debate,” Earnest told reporters during his Tuesday briefing. “It will take more than three weeks to pass an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF), but Congress, in each of these cases, must stop using the fact that these issues are difficult as an excuse for doing nothing.”
Ironically, while traditionally the administration has blamed Republicans for doing nothing when it does not get its way, this time it is the Democrats who are lazy.
Because as NRO adds, Carter got a hint of just how difficult it may be to sell Congress on such legislation when Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D., Hawaii) suggested that Obama’s decision to place American fighter jets equipped “to target Russian planes” on the border between Turkey and Syria, and his stated opposition to Russian-backed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, could lead the U.S. into a nuclear war with Vladimir Putin’s regime.
What is surprising is not that a Democrat will stand in the way of a neocon “liberal” president, who changes his political spots on a daily basis, depending entirely on the direction where the money is blowing from; what is surprising is that someone actually gets the stakes involved in the Syrian global proxy war (where the powers involved at last check include the US, Russian, Germany, France, and the UK) which as we have warned for the past year, can escalate to nothing short of a nuclear exchange. To wit:
“Russia’s installation of their anti-aircraft missile-defense system increases that possibility of — whether it’s intentional or even an accidental event — where one side may shoot down the other side’s plane,” Gabbard told Carter. “And that’s really where the potential is for this devastating nuclear war.”
Dear Ms. Gabbard: do you really think Obama does not know this?