National Security Desk / March 23, 2016

‘No Boots on the Ground’ in Iraq?

Obama would rather you didn’t know there are 5,000 of them.

Did you know there are now 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq? Barack Obama would certainly rather you didn’t realize how many boots were on the ground when he promised there wouldn’t be any. A brief history review: Upon withdrawing American forces completely in 2011 — after having rejected George W. Bush’s strategy of establishing a status of forces agreement (SOFA) to secure our hard-won gains in Iraq and the region — Obama declared, “Everything Americans have done in Iraq, all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding, the building and the training and the partnering, all of it has led to this moment of success. … We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq.” All because he kept his promise to end the war there, he’d have you believe.

Except the U.S. leaving the theater didn’t mean the war was over. The Islamic State filled the vacuum he left and now controls much of Iraq and Syria, which it uses to extend its global reach — as we saw yet again this week in Brussels.

Obama is too proud to make much of his stealth escalation. David French, an Iraq veteran, writes, “[T]o change his public message is to admit a series of colossal errors. He thought he could leave Iraq without suffering serious consequences. He was wrong. He thought by turning the page on the Bush era, he could stabilize the Middle East. He was wrong. He thought he could defeat ISIS without a serious escalation and re-commitment to Iraq. He was wrong. He thought he could end the war in Afghanistan. He was wrong.”

That’s why Obama hasn’t announced or otherwise highlighted that there are 5,000 Americans in Iraq today. Over the weekend, Marine Staff Sgt. Louis F. Cardin became the first casualty in this renewed war. There will be more American blood shed, and it’s largely because Obama was so derelict in his duty as commander in chief.

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