Bill Press: Obama’s broken promise in Syria

Bill Press: Obama’s broken promise in Syria
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After Friday’s announcement that U.S. advisers would be deployed inside Syria to assist local forces in their fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), there’s only one word for President Obama: Busted!

Even sending as few as 50 ground troops into Syria — and we all know that more will soon follow — directly contradicts everything Obama has said about U.S. efforts against ISIS.

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Indeed, The Washington Post identified 10 occasions on which the president, or someone speaking for the president, has categorically denied that American forces would be on the ground in Syria.

“We’re not considering any open-ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach,” he said at the White House on Aug. 20, 2013. 

And again, on Sept. 7: “What we’re talking about is not an open-ended intervention. This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan. There would be no American boots on the ground.”

But, of course, now there are. 

And we knew it was coming. After all, if — as we were warned from the beginning — airstrikes alone would not suffice to defeat ISIS, it was inevitable that ground troops would follow. And eventually, because both Iraqi and so-called moderate Syrian rebels proved incapable of doing the job, American forces would have to step in and save the day.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest denies that this represents any change of position on the president’s part, because he’d only promised to send no “combat troops” to Syria. Indeed, by September 2014, when Obama revealed U.S. strategy against ISIS, he underscored the big difference between America’s new involvement in Syria and ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: “It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”

Nonsense. As classic Washington-speak, that ranks right up there with, “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.” 

American pilots are flying bombing raids over Syria. And soon American troops are going to be on the ground in Syria; even if they’re not actually firing shots, they will be directing those who do. 

No matter how you slice it, those are combat troops. We are at war in Syria.

Yes, it’s an unauthorized war, but that’s only because Congress refuses to debate, let alone approve, a new authorization for the use of military force against ISIS, which Obama has requested. Members of Congress can’t condemn the president for going to war without congressional approval when they won’t even bring the issue to the floor for an up-or-down vote. 

Sending the first ground forces into Syria comes on top of June’s decision to dispatch an additional 450 troops to Iraq, for a total of 3,500, and last month’s announcement that American troops would remain in Afghanistan through the end of 2017. 

That makes three wars at one time under Obama’s administration: a rekindled war in Iraq, an extended war in Afghanistan, and a new war in Syria, with no end in sight. In fact, it’s looking more and more like Syria could become Obama’s Vietnam. 

Can anybody say “quagmire”?

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “The Obama Hate Machine.”