The Obama administration is apparently considering an increased role for U.S. ground troops in Syria and Iraq to combat ISIS. Here’s the Washington Post:
“The changes would represent a significant escalation of the American role in Iraq and Syria. They still require formal approval from Obama, who could make a decision as soon as this week and could decide not to alter the current course, said U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions are still ongoing.”
Let’s hope that President Obama shows the same restraint in this regard as he has done regarding the proposal of a no-fly zone in Syria.
Today the NY Times Editorial Board published a surprisingly strong critique of the plan put forth by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter:
“The Pentagon continues to call the military campaign in Syria and Iraq an “advise and assist” mission, a characterization that was misleading when the campaign began and is now absurd. By incrementally increasing its combat role in a vast, complicated battleground, the United States is being sucked into a new Middle East war. Each step in that direction can only breed the desire to do more. Commanders will want to build on battlefield successes when things go their way, and they will be driven to retaliate when they don’t.”
Yes, the risk of “mission creep” is quite high, and thus war perpetuates itself. We thought the U.S. wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq were over, but today we find that not to be the case. War failed us the first time, and it will likely keep failing by helping to recruit more violent extremists in both nations.
Meanwhile, Iraq is saying, at least publicly, that it is not interested in the influx of any more U.S. ground troops, which is understandable given that we have twice in recent decades invaded Iraq without asking permission.
And Secretary of State John Kerry spoke today about the U.S. strategy in the Middle East. Kerry said that there is indeed a strategy that encompasses both increased diplomacy and a “ratcheting up” of military force, including sending more ammunition and aid to Syrian rebels.
Our military meddling in foreign nations is generally not considered, by Democrats or Republicans in Washington, D.C. , a matter of imperialism. Rather we say we are fighting to defend democracy abroad, though we are not much interested in opening our borders to immigrants and refugees in need, nor in making our own economy and society adhere to a more egalitarian model. What many in the Middle East have long experienced of our democracy is heavy-handed interference, support for dictators when it suits us and full-blown war. What’s really needed is a ratcheting up of democratic, nonviolent means as a viable alternative to all the oppression and violence in the Middle East, some of which we are responsible for creating and tolerating.