It Depends Upon What the Meaning of “Boots on the Ground” Is

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When it comes to international affairs, if President Obama says something you can damn well be sure that it will be meaningless. A few weeks ago he gave a speech on the White House South Lawn regarding the deteriorating situation in Iraq, vowing that he “[would]not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq.” And just a few days later, Obama committed 275 Special Forces to “secure U.S. assets and advise the country’s fledging military as ISIS inches closer to Baghdad.”

That was several weeks ago, and now things have gotten worse in and around Iraq, so guess what? That’s right; President Obama has increased the number of troops into the area. The additional troop presence raises the US total in Iraq (as of July 1st) to approximately 750, according to the Pentagon. And when questioned by reporters, the Pentagon does not rule out the possibility that even more troops will be sent over in the future.

Officials say that around 300 soldiers will have the job of protecting US citizens and US property in the Baghdad area. Another 200 soldiers are to beef up security at the Embassy and help support facilities at the Baghdad International Airport. Another 100 will be responsible for providing security and logistics support in the Baghdad area. And the other 150 troops will …well, they didn’t really say what they would be engaged in.

The bottom line is, Obama went from absolutely “No boots on the ground,” to sending 275 special forces a few days later, then 200 more, then 300 more, and now they won’t say how many more could possibly be sent in the days ahead. Maybe he figures if he sends in a little at a time, nobody will notice.

Look, I’m not smart enough to know what the right action or inaction should be for the United States regarding the ISIS crisis in the Middle East. But I know two things for sure – I know that Vietnam began a little at a time, with a “few advisors” here and there. The next thing we knew, we had a full scale war on our hands which divided our country and altered the American culture forever. We lost credibility and respect abroad and to this day the wounds haven’t fully healed.

The other thing I know is, to be an effective leader the president of the United States needs to have the trust of the American people. When an American president states something emphatically (such as “you can keep your own insurance and your own doctor,” or “no boots on the ground,”) he has to live up to his word. Obama seems incapable of doing this. The man just can’t seem to master the simple act of honesty.  When a leader loses credibility at home and abroad, he loses everything.

At this stage we have very little credibility in the world at large, even less in the Middle East.  Why would anyone believe anything that this administration says or promises?

How many more troops will Obama commit to the region?  Does he have a plan or is this more of his knee-jerk poll driven reaction to a problem? One thing is for sure, the more troops he sends over, the more chance it is that someone will get killed. Once that happens, then what? With Obama in charge there’s no telling.

In the entire Middle Eastern area there are only two countries that are dependable friends to the U.S. One of course is Israel, our one true democratic ally; the other is Jordan, which has been supportive and extremely pro-Western through the years. Whatever we do in that region we should do with an eye to protecting those two important allies.

Then there are the Kurds. Of the various ethnic and tribal factions in the region, the Kurds are the ones we should support. They are not religious radicals and they are not Arabs. They are a rational people that number somewhere close to 30 million. America can work with these people, and we should. The time is right for us to support Kurdish independence.

Right now new boundaries are being drawn on Middle Eastern maps. We cannot allow the radical Islamist groups such as ISIS to call the shots. The Middle East is a complicated problem that will, in all likelihood, never be settled in our lifetimes. But make no mistake; whether we go in now or stand back and let the factions fight it out themselves, sooner or later we will be dragged into it. This war isn’t going away anytime soon. It started a long time ago.

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