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According to the New York Times, President Obama is ready to put boots on the ground in Syria:

American Troops to Syria

“The decision adds a new level of risk to the Syrian enterprise, as the presence of American forces, even if they are in Kurdish territory, could bring the special operations troops into closer contact with the Islamic State.

While administration officials plan to characterize the deployment as an enhancement of current strategy, it is actually a huge shift for a president who has said repeatedly that he will not put American combat boots on the ground in Syria.”

It might be remembered that in August 2013 Obama did not want to bomb Syria without Congressional approval. Then earlier this year he launched airstrikes in Syria without such approval. And now his is putting our soldiers in harm's way in Syria without any Congressional authority at all. In other words, he is setting us up for another Gulf of Tonkin situation. Our soldiers go into Syria, they get attacked by ISIL, and suddenly we are told that we must defend our country's honor and defeat ISIL.

Is Obama setting us up for another Gulf of Tonkin situation? Our soldiers go into Syria, they get attacked by ISIL, and suddenly we are told that we must defend our country's honor and defeat ISIL.

“The president has been quite clear that there is no military solution” to the war in Syria, said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “There is a political one.” Yet Obama has chosen to put 50 Special Forces troops on the ground, claiming that “the deployment of even a few dozen troops could make a difference by helping local forces that are fighting the Islamic State.”

It should be recalled that the American involvement in Vietnam started in this same way – with advisors on the ground “helping” local troops.

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Recall that we are already bombing ISIL, sometimes in a way counter to the Russian bombing missions. “This bombing of the CIA-trained rebels [by Russia] is a serious issue for the U.S., which wants to avoid direct proxy warfare against Russia, like in the 1980s Afghan war, but can’t simply let the Russians target their partners repeatedly,” said Lila Ghosh, an analyst at the Soufan Group, a security consultancy firm. “The Russians are, in effect, forcing the U.S. to consider broadening its narrow anti-Islamic State focus to an anti-Assad focus, which is a significant shift in policy and has massive repercussions.”

So an even worse scenario than an attach by ISIL would be an accidental bombing of U.S. troops by Russia. That could certainly happen, and it could lead to war with Russia and Syria.

Is there an alternative? Yes, there is – the political one that the Obama administration keeps referring to but is not bringing to a successful conclusion. It is doubtful that 50 soldiers will bring a political solution more quickly that (say) increasing aid to those Middle Eastern countries willing to fight ISIL. If the Kurds need aid, it can be given in the form of military hardware. If they need training, the training can be done in an area far from where our troops might get directly involved in the war.

A year ago which he authorized the bombing of ISIL in Syria, “Obama did not put a timetable on the American action against ISIS, saying “it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIS,” and senior Administration officials would not define what victory against the group would look like during a press briefing before the speech. In recent years, Obama has cast the campaign against Islamist extremists as open-ended, designed to keep fighters from reconsolidating to become a threat to the U.S., while lowering expectations that the threat can ever be truly eliminated.”

Obviously, the administration's idea of using bombing and the training and arming of foreign troops to combat ISIL has not worked. The only solution therefore is to keep on that road and complete a political resolution or else to become heavily involved with U.S. boots on the ground. Putting even 50 soldiers into Syria means that the latter “solution” is no longer viewed as completely unacceptable to Obama.


And the endless war continues . . .

Michael T. Hertz