Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Obama's Isis coaliton on ground troops: You first, no you first, no you first.

In the fight against Isis, Obama has used all the diplomatic skill at his disposal which is to say virtually none,  and managed to put together a coalition of the willing to hold everyone else's coat.

As Isis closes in on Khobani threatening another massacre while also closing in on Baghdad Airport, the issue continues to be one of ground troops.

There is no one with any knowledge or military expertise who has not said that there is no defeating or destroying Isis without the implementation of ground troops. And the most logical source of ground troops to fight Isis is also the most illogical -- the Iraqi army.

A current map of Iraq showing the territory Isis has already taken says enough about the ability of the Iraqi army to take on Isis. And many blame the pull out of U.S. troops in 2011 as the primary reason contrary to Obama's assertion that he had no choice, that Malaki insisted on the removal of all U.S. troops. Everyone in a position to know from former Secretaries of Defense Gates and Panetta as well as members of congress have said Obama could have left a residual force if had the will. 

While the U.S. said they will now train the Iraqis, it will take 5-6 months to accomplish that and even then there is no guarantee it will be adequate. 

As for the coalition, the country best in a position to send ground troops to fight Isis at the moment is Turkey. Except Turkey has said they will not send ground troops into Iraq or Syria to fight Isis because no other NATO member has sent in ground troops.

Turkey has also made it a condition that the U.S.  must get involved militarily in Syria against Assad, something Obama had been advised to do 3 years ago by arming the moderate Syrian rebels and rejected. Turkey is also demanding the U.S. establish a no fly zone in Syria, effectively grounding Assad's ability to carry out air assaults, something that had also been recommended to Obama 3 years ago but that he rejected. As if that isn't bad enough, Turkey is now bombarding the Kurds, the only meaningful military resistance on the ground against Isis and doing it over Obama's pleas, over escalating long standing disputes between Turkey and the Kurds. 

So far no other NATO country has been willing to put in ground troops. And while a wave of former high ranking military commanders in the U.S. have gone public recently saying the U.S. has to put ground troops into the battle to destroy Isis, the most recent being former Maj. General and Commandant of the Marine Corps James Conway, Obama has said repeatedly he will not send ground troops to fight Isis, effectively putting himself in a box.
Without any U.S. leadership in dealing with Isis its unlikely any other country will be willing to take the lead and move first.

FBI and other intelligence assessments are that the current air strikes are having little effect on stopping the Isis advance. Nor will it.  It has damaged or destroyed some heavy weapons but has not prevented Isis from controlling 80% of Khobani and moving within 8 miles of Baghdad airport where there are some 200 U.S. troops.

The Pentagon has admitted that the air strikes have only destroyed some command and control and Isis training facilities . But the Isis fighters taking ground in Iraq and Syria  are no longer going through training, they are out there killing. So the air strikes are bombing empty training facilities and will do nothing to change anything on the ground.

So Isis continues to roll with the Kurds the only effective fighting force on the ground providing effective resistance but only in the territory they currently control.

Turkey has agreed to train 4000 Syrian rebels but that will take months. The Iraqi army is still for the most part inadequate. And no one involved in Obama's coalition of the willing to hold someone else's coat seems to be inclined to send in ground troops against Isis -- not Jordan, not the Saudis, not Turkey not France, the UK, Germany or Italy. Everyone is waiting for someone else to go first.

The decision to send in U.S. ground troops which is being advocated by military leaders as well as some members of congress while others oppose it, isn't a difficult decision based on one factor. Is Isis a real threat to the U.S. mainland or not? If not then the U.S. has no business sending in ground troops to defend a region that should be defending itself. If Isis is a real threat to the UK, France and other European countries and countries in the Middle East like the Saudis and Jordan, then they should bear the brunt of the fight with U.S. support.

But, if those inside the U.S. government in a position to know believe Isis is or will be a legitimate threat to the U.S. mainland if they are not destroyed as they have said,  if it is in our interests to stop Isis for our own good and not just humanitarian reasons or to protect other countries,  then we should never be put in a position of asking or counting on anyone else to do our fighting for us when no one can do it as effectively as our military.  Which makes Obama's declaration of never putting in U.S. ground troops as political, myopic, ineffective and ill advised as his original bad decisions and inaction in Syria that created the current situation in the first place.

Obama's insistence that there will be no U.S. troops on the ground regardless of circumstances is not just short sighted but seems to be related to a condition of acronymophobia -- a  fear of acronyms and what they stand for because the acronym for Boots On the Ground is BOG.

NOTE: In running a Google search on "Isis" and "Isis fighters" for an image to use with this post I came across images never shown by any mainstream news organization print or TV, and so probably never seen by most people,  that were so brutal,  so grotesque and so violent that if these images were widely seen and a real threat by Isis to the U.S. mainland was established it would likely change the minds of many who currently say they oppose the use of U.S. ground troops to destroy Isis.

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