18 September 2014

What Barack Obama Says About Isis is Nothing Like What LBJ Said About Vietnam

With both the House and Senate approving funds to train "moderates" in Syria:
President Obama’s plan to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels exposed a deep rift Thursday among Democrats over waging war, with a large bloc of liberals staunchly opposed to the modest mission, fearing another long-term engagement in Iraq.

While the Senate sent the measure Thursday to the White House for Obama’s signature, votes this week demonstrated the tenuous support he has from his own party in carrying out the mission to “degrade and destroy” Islamic State forces. Several of the party’s rising stars, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, rejected the proposal, while in the House, Obama’s proposal won approval only because a vast majority of Republicans backed him.

Many rank-and-file Democrats who did support Obama said they expect a broad debate in November and December, after the midterm elections, so that legislation can be approved to place broad constraints on the U.S. military’s ability to carry out the operation and set a specific deadline for the mission’s end.

After the votes, Obama thanked Congress “for the speed and seriousness with which they approached this issue” and noted that “a majority of Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate” had voted to train and equip the rebels.
Note that 10 Democrats, and 12 Republicans voted against, and most of them did because they do not think that arming the rebels will work.

The history of the Syrian civil wars that you can characterize the participants as follows:
  • The murderous Assad Regime
  • Radical Islamic Jihadis bent of a sectarian war. (Jabhat al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Islam, etc.)
  • People who scare the crap out of Radical Islamic Jihadis bent of a sectarian war. (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Dawlah l-ʾIslāmiyyah/Whatever the f%$# they want to be called)
  • The completely ineffective Free Syrian Army.
  • Exiles, who, as Machiavelli predicted, have no clue as to what is going on in country, and will saying to get support.
The union of "moderate" and "functional military force" is a null set.

The New York Times editorial board feels the same way, calling this strategy a "risky bet".

But we will train them, because Obama has strenuously insisted that there will be no boots on the ground.

Of course, LBJ said something very similar on October 21, 1964, "We are not about to send American boys nine or ten thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves."

The historical echos are not reassuring.

I would bet dollars to Navy beans that we will have troops on the ground and in combat in Iraq by the end of the Obama administration.


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