January 21, 2015

Biden Suggests We Need Boots on the Ground

During the national security portion of last night’s State of the Union address, Barack Obama proudly asserted, “In Iraq and Syria, American leadership  –  including our military power  –  is stopping ISIL’s advance.” That may be somewhat true in Iraq, where the coalition’s fight against insurgents has reduced the rampage to a stalemate. Syria on the other hand is falling deeper into chaos. Mouaz Moustafa, an adviser with the group Coalition for a Democratic Syria, says “ISIS has almost doubled its territorial control in Syria” since late August – when the U.S.-led coalition began “Operation Inherent Resolve” – and that “the number of people who now live under ISIS control has also increased substantially.” (See map below.) Meanwhile, in an interview this morning, the ever-erudite Joe Biden acknowledged the strategy in Syria is failing and suggested the reason is because “there are no boots on the ground.” But last night, Obama exclaimed, “Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.” How’s that working out? Biden, though clearly not trying to advocate sending ground troops back to the Middle East, is right.

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