"I will not put US boots on the ground in Syria." That was President Obama's unequivocal statement to the American people just two years ago when he first planned to bomb Syria. He has repeated the statement several times, as he has also repeated his promise that he "will not pursue a long air campaign" in Syria and Iraq.
Obama lied. And he lied again. And he lied again today, when it was announced that he was putting US boots on the ground in Syria.
This move encapsulates neocon-occupied Washington's response to foreign policy failure: if an intervention is failing, escalate.
The year-long US bombing campaign to "degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS" has produced little result; the "train and equip" program produced a handful of fighters who immediately were captured by or defected to al-Qaeda and/or ISIS; US airdrops of weapons ended up in the hands of ISIS eight times out of ten, according to University of Oklahoma Syria expert Joshua Landis.
The solution to this failed policy is not to abandon the US regime change plans for Syria and let the Russians take care of the ISIS and al-Qaeda problem for us. No! For this administration the answer is US boots on the ground!
President Obama, according to senior administration officials, will start by infiltrating some 50 special forces troops into parts of Syria controlled by the Kurds and the "Syrian Democratic Forces." These "Syrian Democratic Forces" are a mysterious new group created and marketed by the US administration. They seem as dubious as the similarly US-touted "Khorasan Group" a made-up organization that provided the pretext for the expansion of US bombing to Syria just over a year ago.
According to Obama's new strategy, the US military will be on the ground in Syria fighting alongside Kurdish fighters who are being bombed by America's NATO ally, Turkey. What are these US forces to do when they look overhead and see Turkish fighter jets about to bomb them? Will they shoot down American-made F-16s flown by NATO ally Turkey into Syria? How will the Turks take to the US shooting down its fighters in that case?
And what about Russian bombs falling on Syria? As the US refuses to give the Russian government coordinates for the rebels it considers "moderate," there is little way for the Russians to know which fighting group will contain embedded US special forces. Is this not starting to look really foolish and dangerous?
Last March, Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the Russian military presence in Crimea after a coup overthrew the Ukrainian government with memorable words: "You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text."
Yet sending the US military into Syria against the wishes of the sovereign and legal Syrian government is orders of magnitude more illegal than even the Russian presence in Crimea, which was after all the result of a long-standing treaty between Russia and Ukraine.
Just last month at the United Nations, President Obama condemned those "major powers [who] assert themselves in ways that contravene international law." But there is no UN Security Council resolution permitting the United States to conduct military operations in Syria, which means the whole operation is in gross violation of international law.
More importantly, President Obama has today embarked on another hot war in the Middle East with no Congressional declaration, no Congressional authorization, and not even a proper notification. Congress lays down and rolls over, the Constitution in flames.
Remember this when you think of President Obama's new war on Syria:
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