Last August the president began his air war against the Islamic State which controls two Iraqi provincial capitals and the city of Falluja. Obama declared that his purpose was to “dismantle” the I.S. By April of this year, the Pentagon’s 4,050 missile and bombing strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria had cost over $2.1 billion, over $8 million a day, but without any success. Then on May 16, after assuring the country that “I will not allow the US to be dragged into another war in Iraq,” the president sent a group of US commandos on their first raid into Syria. Since Congress has not declared war, this unauthorized attack and intensification would make Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon proud. Can the Nobel Committee withdraw a Peace Prize for cause?
Although the White House has repeatedly said it would not add “boots on the ground” to wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc., the assurance is bogus. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last November he was studying the use of US ground troops to “accompany” Iraqi soldiers on “complex” raids. “We’re certainly considering it,” Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee.
Now, having made no progress since its August 2014 escalation, Obama announced his curtsey to Gen. Dempsey on June 9, declaring that he would add 450 US commandos (whom he calls “trainers”) to the 3,000 “advisers” already there. The next day, the president announced that the US would build yet another military base, this time in Anbar Province. The new base will presumably be built on the ground without the use of boots.
About these numbers, Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown University, wrote in the Washington Post last Sept., “It’s hard to know what publicly reported troop numbers really mean. When the Pentagon issues a Boots on the Ground report, known colloquially as a ‘BOG report,’ it often excludes military personnel on ‘temporary duty,’ in combat areas, even though temporary duty may [last] 5 or 6 months. Special Operations personnel assigned to work under CIA auspices are often left out of the BOG numbers.”
Promises to prohibit boots on the ground are especially unreliable in view of events in Mali in 2013. That Feb., Obama announced that about 100 US troops were in Niger to set up a drone base to support French military attacks across the border into Mali. The Pentagon said this was legit, since senior US officials had said for months that they would not put ‘boots on the ground’ there. Just in case you were born yesterday, the 47 missions flown by the Air Force’s C17 “Globemaster” — that carried 975 French troops and over 1,200 tons of equipment into Mali to battle an Al Qaeda offshoot — were not a part of any combat.