President Obama has declared war!
Last night, in a 14-minute speech on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks the president dramatically broadened the Iraqi conflict, announcing he has authorized a major expansion of the military campaign against ISIS terrorists — thereby beginning steps to expand and intensify the fighting.
But whether right or wrong, wise or crazy, each of these steps is fraught with dangers.
1. The United States will launch an aggressive campaign of airstrikes on ISIS Syria.
Danger: This could play right into the hands of Syrian President Assad, whose Russian-made planes have bombed his own people for three long years, responsible for many of the 200,000 mostly civilian deaths in the Syrian civil war so far. How precisely will U.S. jets avoid adding to this toll?
2. The United States will deploy hundreds more "military advisers" to Iraq, bringing the total number of military personnel there to 1,600.
Danger: Don’t these advisers wear boots too? And won’t those boots be on the ground? If so, how many more U.S. troops will be needed to defend them against ISIS forces launching targeted terrorist attacks against them?
3. For boots on the ground in Syria, rely exclusively on the moderate rebel forces in Syria.
Problem: They don’t exist. The anti-government moderates have been virtually wiped out. Most of those that weren’t bombed out by the Syrian government forces have been pushed out by ISIS. Only scattered remnants of these forces remain. And without the support of ground forces, any American bombing efforts are bound to be little more than a futile gesture.
Danger: If other Moslem states in the region, such as Saudi Arabia or Turkey, contribute ground troops or support the moderate rebels in Syria, they will be near and easy targets for ISIS terrorist attacks.
President Obama failed to mention or at best soft-pedaled, these dangers.
And what’s most ironic, his announcement was in stark contrast to the president’s year-ago speech, announcing major action (never taken) against the hated regime of Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad.
Then, Assad was the enemy. And ISIS was an ally of our moderate rebel friends.
Today, ISIS is the enemy. And Assad is the enemy of our enemy (but not our friend.)
The obvious big-picture danger: We are jumping into an extremely complex, three-way civil war, in which shaky alliances continue to shift and new enemies can emerge at almost any time.
More Complex than Korea, Vietnam and the Balkans.
In fact, the civil war in Syria is a four-way conflict (not including the United States.). They are:
- the powerful Assad regime,
- the powerful ISIS forces,
- the al-Qaeda aligned rebel forces,
- weakest of all, the "moderate" rebel forces, which we’re going to supposedly rely on as proxies for our troops on the ground.
And, the civil war in Iraq is also a four-way conflict:
- the Shiites,
- the non-ISIS Sunnis,
- the Kurds and
It’s a quagmire that’s muddier than that of Korea, Vietnam or the Balkans. Our actions will inevitably set off a chain reaction of unpredictable consequences.
This dramatic expansion of the war against ISIS, especially with new stepped-up involvement by Saudi Arabia and other rich Persian Gulf countries, can only mean that billions more petrodollars will seek safety here in the United States.
Plus, untold billions more dollars will continue to seek refuge from Russia and Western Europe. Just yesterday, we got another shock from Vladimir Putin:
Even as he was withdrawing some of his troops from Ukraine, he made new shocking steps. He announced he is personally taking charge of Russia’s entire defense industry. He is going to push for more advanced weapons and a treaty-busting build-up of nuclear bombs. And he tested a missile capable of delivering a nuke 100 times more powerful than Hiroshima’s.