Right Hooks

Hey, Look — Boots on the Ground in Syria

Putting American lives on the line for missions he doesn't believe in.

Nate Jackson · Oct. 30, 2015

“I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria.” —Barack Obama, Sept. 10, 2013

Well, it seems Obama has crossed his own red line. “The White House has approved the deployment of small teams of U.S. special-operations forces to locations in northeastern Syria,” The Wall Street Journal reports, “expanding America’s direct role on the ground in support of local fighters as they prepare for a new military campaign against Islamic State militants in their stronghold in Raqqa, officials said. The new deployment would amount to the first sustained U.S. ground presence in Syria.”

But don’t worry; Obama spokesman Josh Earnest insists, “These forces do not have a combat mission.” Would that be similar to the “not combat mission” that cost Master Sgt. Joshua L. Wheeler his life?

Just in the last month, Obama has announced that he will keep more troops in Afghanistan, send troops to Iraq and establish a small presence in Syria. It’s hard to mistake the signs: Even he realizes his stubborn refusal to lead in the region has left nothing but chaos. Perhaps he also realized that leaving the job of Middle East stability to Russian President Vladimir Putin is a bad idea in need of hitting a reset button. And then there’s the political calculation of wanting to pass the reins to Hillary Clinton, who is responsible for at least some of the disaster in the Middle East. Obama recently explained, “Part of what we have to do here … is to try different things.” It sure seems like he’s just throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping some of it sticks. The trouble is, he’s putting American lives on the line for missions he clearly doesn’t believe in.

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