"Train, Advise And Assist"... In Syria? Very Bad Idea For America
Ted Lieu (D-CA) was one of the first Members of Congress to react to President Obama's announcement yesterday that he's starting to send ground forces into Syria (in the midst of a multi-sided civil war and without an invitation from the country's government). Lieu told us that he "opposes the introduction of U.S. ground troops into Syria. I have also repeatedly called for the U.S. to end airstrikes in Syria. The Administration has not put forward a comprehensive strategy for Syria. The U.S. should use our limited resources to address the worst refugee crisis in a generation rather than risk American lives and waste taxpayer funds by intervening in a complicated civil war halfway around the world."
"I was disappointed to learn today," progressive Democrat Alex Law told us just as the news was breaking, "that the United States was officially entangling ourselves in another conflict in the Middle East. Although ISIS is a terrible evil, I believe our presence in the region has not only created more terrorism than we've ended, but also armed the terrorists with the bulk of supplies we left behind or had seized. The bright spot is that the troops being deployed do not have a combat mission."
That's right, the "few dozen" special operations forces being deployed now do not have a combat mission. On the other hand, they're not being sent over there to resuscitate the raqqa ceramic pottery industry that ceased production in 1265 when the Mongols sacked ar-Raqqah. Yesterday Obama, who was elected president in 2008 because voters perceived him as not-John McCalin-- a psychotic warmonger who never ceases to demand we invade every country on earth-- ordered U.S. troops to "assist local fighters battling ISIS. Peter Baker wrote in the NY Times that U.S. troops "would only train and advise the local forces, not play a direct combat role against the Islamic State." McCain has already called it "grudging incrementalism" and said it's bot going to solve the problem. I was a teenager when that was the story in Vietnam as well. The White House has already called this mission "open ended." Baker wrote that even "administration officials acknowledged that Americans operating closer to the front lines could find themselves in firefights, and they left open the possibility of sending more such Special Operations troops into Syria in the future." Yeah, that's how it happens. Raul Grijalva (R-AZ) told us late yesterday that "President Obama repeatedly committed to the American people that we would not put boots on the ground in Syria. Breaking that promise doesn’t make us safe-- it exposes 50 special forces officers to unnecessary risks and opens the door for further escalation, further devastation to American families and more mounting costs associated with foreign policy quagmires."
Or perhaps our "allies," with whom the U.S. troops will be hunkered down, will sell them to ISIS as hostages. This is so the wrong thing for Obama to be doing-- as well as a thing that's probably illegal. Did Congress acquiesce to this? Last time he tried troops into Syria, Congress was opposed. You'll notice that leaders of congressional opposition to this kind of thing, Alan Grayson for the Democrats, and Justin Amash for the Republicans, are already looking for answers. More warmongery Republicans, like the aforementioned McCain, are already screeching that "the deployment was too little and too late to make a meaningful difference."
And has anyone thought about Russians bombing the area or lobbing missiles into it? The White House said the Russians know where are troops will be? Is that supposed to reassure anyone of anything?
The deployment again raised the question of the president’s legal authority to order such a mission. While Iraq’s government has invited American forces into their country, Syria’s government has not. Mr. Obama has demanded, without success, that Mr. Assad step down from waging war against his own civilians. But the White House said Mr. Obama had the power under 2001 legislation passed by Congress to authorize war against Al Qaeda and its affiliates and that he was acting in defense of an ally, Iraq, which the Islamic State has attacked from Syrian territory... [S]ince Mr. Obama’s initial deployments of several hundred troops to Iraq to help local forces, the number has grown to about 3,500, and the roles have grown as well. An American soldier died last week in a joint commando raid to free prisoners held by the Islamic State. American commandos have also mounted raids into Syria for quick strikes.This is going to make the Republican primary even more of a pig-sty than it already is. A couple of weeks ago, Rubio was already screaming that the U.S. should start shooting down Russian jets on Syrian bombing missions. Jeb Bush attacked Rubio for not being aggressive enough in Syria. Cruz was smarter than either-- enough so to recognize this as a civil war the U.S. should stay out of, a position also held by Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders though not Hillary Clinton. Though a spokesperson Hillary said she "sees merit in the targeted use of special operations personnel to support our partners in the fight against ISIS, including in Syria." Wanting to not offend peaceniks among the Democratic base she mindlessly babbled something opposing U.S. involvement in a ground war in the region. What a mess-- on every level.
The team now being sent into Syria will aid local forces with smoother and quicker access to equipment and logistical help, according to American officials, who discussed delicate details on the condition of anonymity. In addition, Mr. Obama authorized deploying A-10 Warthog planes and F-15 fighter jets to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and instructed his advisers to consult with the Iraqi government about establishing a Special Operations task force to further efforts to target Islamic State leaders there. He also ordered more military assistance to Jordan and Lebanon.
...While Mr. Obama and his administration have maintained publicly that they are not putting American combat boots on the ground in Iraq or Syria, the definition of combat has changed several times since the United States began airstrikes against the Islamic State in August 2014.
The president’s decision drew a scornful response from some prominent Democrats. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, an Obama ally who served as the party’s chairman, quickly issued a statement noting that a year ago Mr. Obama had “stated that American combat troops would not be returning to the fight in Iraq,” but that now there were more than 3,500 American troops in Iraq.
Mr. Kaine said he supported Mr. Obama’s diplomatic efforts in Vienna to find a solution to the Syrian war, but noted “the incongruity to pursuing political discussions while at the same time ramping up our U.S. military presence in Syria to address half the problem-- ISIL, but not Assad.”
While calling on Congress to take up the question of authorizing the war, Mr. Kaine said, “It is also time for the administration to propose a unified strategy to address the intertwined challenges posed by ISIL and President Assad.”
Republicans called the latest move insufficient given Russia’s intervention in Syria and the failure to change the overall dynamics in the years leading up to it.
“Putting small numbers of troops in Syria is yet another tactical move in the absence of a comprehensive strategy for Iraq, Syria and the broader Middle East that does nothing more than create the appearance of serious action,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican majority leader from California.
UPDATE: DuWayne Gregory, The Democrat Who Can Finally Beat Peter King
DuWayne is the Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer and he's running for New York's second congressional district on Long Island, a seat currently held by Peter King. "Fighting ISIS is a priority, but we can't do it alone," he told us today. "We must form a coalition with our partners in the region so as to avoid engaging in yet another costly and devastating war. As a veteran and as a parent of a son who is currently serving, I strongly oppose the commitment of ground troops before we have a solid plan." If you'd like to help him replace King, you can contribute to his campaign here.