During his prime time speech last night, President Barack Obama vowed that no combat troops would fight on foreign soil in the pursuit of ISIS, an assertion contradicted by NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, who says that U.S. boots are already on the ground in Iraq.
“I know there are already American boots on the ground where I am now,” Engel told MSNBC, adding, “They are troops who are staying away from reporters, they are embedded with local fighters trying to guide in air strikes, gathering intelligence — the kind of thing you would have thought the Green Berets would have done many years ago, and which are now being done by Navy SEALS and Delta Force and other Special Operations Forces.”
Engel went on to state that Obama was engaged in a “secret war” to dislodge ISIS while questioning the effectiveness of such a strategy.
The NBC reporter’s revelation that U.S. troops are already working alongside local fighters in Iraq to target ISIS contradicts Obama’s claim last night that his plan, “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”
In a subsequent interview, Engel slammed Obama’s strategy to eliminate ISIS as “wildly off-base,” asserting that comparisons to U.S. military activity in Yemen and Somalia were an oversimplification of the problem.
Meanwhile, Obama faced criticism from some on the right who accused him of failing to acknowledge the threat posed by radical Islam after Obama remarked that “ISIL is not Islamic” during his speech.
Libertarians assailed Obama for officially adopting President Bush’s preemptive war doctrine while vowing to violate the territorial sovereignty of Syria without a UN resolution or even consultation with Congress.
As we documented yesterday, the White House plans to step up arms shipments to so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels despite the fact that the vast majority of militants in Syria are radical jihadists and many of them are aligned with or have given weapons to ISIS.
Given that the Syrian government has repeatedly made clear that it will consider any U.S. military action inside its border an “act of war,” the Obama administration risks pouring gasoline on a raging inferno if it follows a similar policy to that adopted towards Libya, which is now a failed state largely controlled by warlords and radical jihadist militias.