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    Obama's Mission

    Barack Obama was elected because the American people were tired of being bogged down in unwinnable foreign wars. He was elected because a majority of American voters had come to view the Iraq war as a mistake. This is a basic, bottom-line political fact. Therefore, it is not (and cannot be) Official Beltway Wisdom.

    Obama also had a mandate to save the country after the economic crash. And he had some mandate to fix health care, which he had campaigned on doing, although this was not nearly as important as he thought. A lot of Obama's early political problems can be ascribed to the fact that he overestimated how much the country cared about health care and underestimated how much the country cared about financial reform and getting the troops home from Iraq. He would have been better served with bolder steps on the economy and a quicker timetable to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. But even when he has misunderstood the voters' exact priorities at a particular moment, the voters' priorities have been real.

    President Obama's address to the nation Wednesday night shows that he still remembers his mission. We're going into Syria to fight ISIS, but only with an air campaign and not with ground troops. Obama was immediately criticized by various talking heads and political opponents (in fact, was criticized even sooner than immediately, because the complaining started in advance of the speech) that Obama ought to commit ground troops, or not rule out committing ground troops, right away. They complained that Obama needs to be Serious, which means putting American soldiers and Marines in harm's way. But the American people made Barack Obama President specifically so he would not send troops to this kind of war. He is carrying out the mission we gave him.

    There's been a lot of criticism in Washington about Obama's strategic maxim "Don't do stupid stuff." Hillary Clinton, who would be President if she had not voted to let George W. Bush do stupid stuff, has joined the criticism. But all this wise Washingtonians miss the basic fact. Obama was elected to keep the country from doing stupid stuff. And most of what passes for strategic wisdom in Washington these days is pretty stupid.

    Committing ground troops into Syria is stupid. It is not even remotely a strategy. Sending our troops into a war zone with no plan for getting them out, or even a picture of what victory would look like, is not strategy but stupidity. And we've already lost too many American lives to stupidity like that.

    People who want to invade Syria argue that supporting the moderate rebels is not enough, because the moderate Syrian rebels are not strong enough to win. Let me point out that if there is no existing force on the ground in Syria strong enough to beat ISIS even with our air support, then there is no force on the ground for us to hand Syria over to when our troops leave. It is the same problem as Iraq and Afghanistan. Going in with ground troops means going into a situation that will collapse again shortly after our ground troops leave. Staying in Syria until Syria is stabilized means occupying Syria forever.

    If we don't have an ally that can win without our ground troops, then we don't have an exit strategy for our ground troops. Don't do stupid stuff.

    More importantly, don't get American soldiers and Marines killed doing stupid stuff. That is our Commander in Chief's mission. Let him do it.



    I agree.  There is a lot more going on right now in the world that is very important then just ISIS. Our media and the village is in a bubble. There is some serious stuff that is a crisis level. Our President is working on all of it and not just focused on ISIS because the GOP demands it. We should be pushing back with "Why did you cut the funding for Ebola or green energy reasearch?"  Is it because your corporate masters can't make money one it?  But war is a real money maker.  

    I agree with your main thrust of course. How not?.But permit me to disagree with your passing comment that attempting to fix our cruel and discriminatory health "system" was not as important as Obama thought.

    In his years as a community organizer- instead of as the high paid attorney which he could have been-   he must have been confronted with the reality that in this land of the free only the poor are free to die of untreated treatable diseases for which they would have had immediate care any place in Europe. That is important.

    Well, I don't meant to deny that health care reform was, and is, important.

    I do think there was a moment in 2009 when it felt temporarily less important than other things that had become very pressing. Obama had three big things that the voters expected, and he wasn't wrong that they were all important. I do think he misjudged how the top three were ranked at certain moments.

    The best analysis I have read of why 'boots on the ground' and "our need to act quickly" won't work. Senator Rogers mentioned both of those, see link below.

    Obama said the mess is like Somalia or Yemen. Somalia is slowly being cleared of terror groups by local African forces. It has been a mess for over 20 years. As the Doc says, the locals must get fed up and take control, and we are not the locals.

    If the sultans, sheiks, princely playboys and head choppers of Saudi Arabia want to speed the collapse of ISIS they could start by stopping the funding of them, and provide some of their own troops.

    Republican Rogers in his Time op/ed gives this deceptive remark in his response to Obama's plan:

    Leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey have a keen interest in destroying this threat to their region, and they have capabilities to bring to the fight. These partners, however, have requested the coordinating influence and guidance of the world’s largest military and greatest superpower. Only the United States can help plan, coordinate and assist in accomplishing the missions needed to defeat ISIS.

    Total BS.

    Turkey 'has capabilities'? How about 'Turkey could clean out ISIS in a month? They border both Iraq and Syria. They have over half a million active troops, 2000 aircraft, 3600+ tanks and a manpower pool of eligible men ready for service of over 30 million. If they had a 'keen interest' they would already have done the job.

    The problem is Arabs have very complicated relational patterns ... your family line crosses many other family lines so blood relations all across the Middle East are very complex. That means while nation may have a formidable military force, they have issues when it comes to fighting and killing their own kin.


    So who better to fight their battles ?... the US of course ! We don't let family/blood/kin ties interfere. And if someone wants to settle a blood feud, it would against some unknown and unsuspecting American caught off guard instead of clan against clan which would escalate into multiple clans clashing and dragging more into the melee crossing borders and so on.

    Charlie Wilson ... republican Representative from Texas in the late 70's and early 80's... championed using the mujahadeen in Afghanistan as proxies to fight the Russians. We supplied the tools and they supplied the bodies. We never got our hands dirty and the Russians got their butte's kicked hard.

    url :


    So if the US " needs " to engage the newest boogie-man in the Middle East, then use the people in the region as proxies, supply them with arms, ammo, food, medicine and so forth and let them die instead of US soldiers who have no dog in the game.


    I may sound callous, but it's their region, and their religion, and their people, and their ethics, and their values, that are clashing, not ours.


    The US should only " consider " boots-on-the-ground if the proxy war fails and those left standing are about to loose everything and the region is close to going up in smoke. 


    But once it reaches that late stage, I suspect "other " nations with dogs in the game will be more willing to "work " with the US to find a " permanent " solution and share the costs.

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