That Short-Term, Narrowly Tailored Mission in Iraq Is Going to Last a Long Time, and Maybe Involve Ground Troops


When President Obama announced last week that he had authorized "limited airstrikes" in Iraq, he went out of his way to try to reassure those who were worried that the missiong would eventually lead to a lengthy, indefinite engagement and American troops once again fighting a ground war: 

I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these. I understand that. I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that's what we've done. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq. And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there's no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq. 

In summary, the mission would be short-term, and narrowly targeted. The airstrikes had been authorized, but hadn't even happened. Maybe they wouldn't even be necessary. 

To almost everyone's genuine puzzlement and surprise, however, it's not working out quite that way. Airstrikes began less than a day after they were authorized.

Less than a week has passed since the initial announcement, and it has already been updated and clarified. The mission's limits now seem less limiting. "I don't think we're going to solve this problem in weeks," Obama said on Sunday. "This is going to be a long-term project."

And now it looks like it's going to be a long-term project that may involve ground troops. Via The New York Times:

A senior White House official said on Wednesday that the United States would consider using American ground troops to assist Iraqis in rescuing Yazidi refugees if recommended by military advisers assessing the situation.

Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Martha's Vineyard that President Obama would probably receive recommendations in the next several days about how to mount a rescue operation to help the refugees, who are stranded on a mountaintop surrounded by Sunni militants. He said those recommendations could include the use of American ground troops.

The gimmick here is that these ground troops, should they be deployed, would not be in a "combat role." They'll just be there…to not engage in combat, or something. 

"What he's ruled out is reintroducing U.S. forces into combat on the ground in Iraq," Mr. Rhodes said. He added, using an alternative name for the militant group, that the deployment of ground troops to assist a rescue was "different than reintroducing U.S. forces in a combat role to take the fight to ISIL."

He acknowledged that any ground troops in Iraq would face dangers, even if they were there to help the refugees find a safe way off the mountain. He said that like American forces anywhere, the troops would have the ability to defend themselves if they came under fire.

So to clarify: American troops won't be in Iraq in a combat role. They just might happen to engage in combat, if circumstances require. 

This is all very reassuring. 

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  1. That Short-Term, Narrowly Tailored Mission in Iraq Is Going to Last a Long Time, and Maybe Involve Ground Troops

    Okay, everyone. Time for your shocked face.

    1. I’m ready. I’ve been practicing my shocked face a lot lately…..

  2. No. Way.

  3. ‘IF they come under fire’, like Gulf of Tonkin IF they come under fire?

  4. Here’s a fucking idea. Grab a colonel or a general. give him a fucking order telling him his mission and what assets he can draw on. Then let him do the job.

    If you can’t do this – if you don’t know what orders to give – then it’s not a job suited for the military.

  5. They’re just setting the Iraqi troops up for another disappointment when American military leadership leaves and their stuck with their Iraqi commanders again.

    1. Exactly. And Arabs have terrible militaries. Sure, stuff a Koran down their pants and they’ll fight well in small groups for God and virgins. But organize them in divisions to fight on behalf of a government, they’re as effective as an Occupy Wall Street protest.

      1. IT is because they are tribal societies. You can’t have a good military when you choose the leadership and NCO corps based on tribe rather than merit.

        1. And tribalism ain’t going away anytime soon. Look at these Yadrazis or Yazidies who are facing extermination. I never heard of them before, and there’s hundreds of thousands of them, and turns out lots of people hate them. I’m sure there are tons more sects and tribes like this over there just waiting for someone to whack them and need help from the West.

        2. You can’t have a good military when you choose the leadership and NCO corps based on tribe rather than merit.

          I thought the subject was Iraq?

    2. (If anyone quotes me, make sure you say I used the correct they’re.)

      1. So a mulligan?

  6. I did not see that happening.

  7. We are going to go back. The enemy gets a vote on these things. All pulling out did was ensure that Obama could no longer blame Bush when he inevitably had to return.

    The guy really could fuck up a cup of coffee.

    1. “no longer blame Bush”? Oh how you underestimate. From a Daily Kos post by ‘Seattle Socialist’ from Sunday (I’m too much a dolt to post a link, but here’s a quote):
      “But enough of that, I just read this today in the virtual newspapers regarding President Bush’s current engagement in Iraq”

      1. That Bush is such a nefarious character!!

      2. Now, if he had said “President Bush III”, I would have laughed.

      3. Hey, I’m still blaming Wilson.

        1. Flip? Willie? The volleyball?? Which one??!

          1. Why be selective?

  8. Obama wants foreign policy to go away and leave him alone. He’s like a toddler trying to foot-stamp his way out of going to the dentist.

    1. All of these bad things just keep happening to him. The poor guy is just unlucky.

      1. Look, it’ll take 40 years do undo all the bad Bush did.

        It’ll take a century to undo all the bad Obama’s doing.

  9. We need to get so involved in this that we have to take back materiel from the police to use in Iraq.

  10. But this time we’ll do it right.

    No, seriously!

    1. Our time futzing around in the Middle East will be indirectly proportional the the amount of jobs and political freedom Arab countries will provide to their young men. As that declines, our involvement will extend.

      1. “inversely”

  11. We spent all that money on the Baghdad embassy, we have to stay.

  12. As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.

    If bombing and deploying troops don’t count, what does?

    1. When it gets serious, you have to lie.

    2. Well, he may be dragged into a kinetic refugee action.

    3. To be fair, it isn’t “another” war. It’s the same one that’s been going on forever.

    4. He’s being pushed.

    5. We’re not getting dragged into this again. No siree, we’re going in on our own volition (again).

  13. Bush forced Obama to leave Iraq, so returning is Bush’s fault.

    Obama still gets credit for leaving.

    1. Notice none of our Obama trolls are posting on this. Apparently their handlers are still working on the talking points.

      1. They’re busy on Ferguson. They’ll get here eventually.

      2. “Bush couldn’t negotiate the deal while Obama was campaigning to bring back .. shit”

    2. Longtorso, Johnny|8.13.14 @ 4:18PM|#
      “Bush forced Obama to leave Iraq, so returning is Bush’s fault.”

      Bush has a secret mind-meld code. He calls the WH, Obo picks up the phone and immediately goes into a trance, thereafter doing exactly as Bush tells him to do. Until he wakes up and Valerie asks him WIH he’s been doing. Obo tells her to make up something about, uh, his last election and stuff.
      Turd told me this!

  14. That Short-Term, Narrowly Tailored Mission in Iraq Is Going to Last a Long Time, and Maybe Involve Ground Troops.

    I guess the President hasn’t read today’s news about Libya yet.

  15. The only thing you missed peter, was the not-so-subtle remark by WH aides on saturday that continued US military action would likely be contingent upon the Iraqi government *getting rid of maliki* ASAP…../iraq.html

    “. The president said he would not give a “particular timetable” on the new operations.

    Aides said that Mr. Obama had not committed to years of continuous airstrikes while Iraqis develop a new government [READ: YET], but that his comments reflected the uncertainty of a military effort that will be re-evaluated in the months ahead.”

    Obviously this can be read different ways, but it seems pretty obvious that the US is weilding military participation as a lever to achieve a change of leadership in Iraq.

    The idea is basically, “right now we’re calling this ‘humanitarian'”…. because WE CAN.

    “..But if you should happen upon a new government sometime soon?…well, who’s to say we couldn’t start expanding the target list a little? Between friends, you know.”

    Journalists seem incredibly tone deaf to the larger theme here of how we’re stepping back into becoming power-brokers between Shiite/Sunni/Kurds at the moment… while pretending to be engaged in a ‘limited humanitarian mission’.

    The whole “Yazidi” thing is pure marketing bullshit. yes, its nice. But its not the point.

    1. So if the Iraqi government gets rid of Maliki we’ll be happy, but if ISIS gets rid of him we’ll be super pissed.

      Once we calm down the Sunnis, we can start getting upset over the Shiites/Iranians again.

      Good Lord, why get involved in this shit?

  16. There is only one effective solution to this dilemma. Dick Cheney has got to suit up, and lead an American Crusader Army to Iraq, take care of the bad guys, and restore law and order, once and for all. Go Big Dick, Go! This time, that Mission really will be accomplished.

    1. Dick Cheney: the obvious punchline in this situation.

    2. With a double-barrel shotgun. That’s all anyone really needs, right?

      1. Wrong Vice President.

        Cheney only uses shotguns for Lawyer.

  17. Also, this “boots on the ground” bullshit has to go.

    Special Forces and CIA people are maybe not within the scope of the popular definition of “Boots”, but damned if they’re not a sign of increased involvement.

    1. It needs to go for a lot of reasons. If we are bombing people it is a fucking war. I am sick and tired of this chickenshit “well as long as we just bomb people and no Americans get hurt it is not really a war” line. If the cause is worth killing for, it is worth risking American lives for. If it is not worth risking American lives, it is not worth killing for and we shouldn’t be there.

      1. This.

        Amazing how our freedom loving society is okay with bombing foreign countries. Don’t get me wrong, fuck ISIS(L), but if killing them is worth doing let Congress make a vote and explain to the American people why it needs to be done.

  18. The funny thing is that if I trusted the government to let the military go in, get the refugees out, and then come home, this is the sort of mission I could get behind from a humanitarian standpoint.

    The problem is, it won’t happen that way. They’ll go in to bust out the refugees. Then they’ll be reinforced and told to fight ISIS/ISIL, and the whole thing will start over again.

    1. What good would it do to rescue the refugees? Rescue them where?

      The point of going is to destroy ISIS and restore the government of Iraq. If you are not going to do that, you are just wasting time, money and lives.

      1. I’m with Gadlanton on this one. IF there is any point to humanitarian military intervention, then rescuing some folks who are trapped on a mountain from genocide seems like a respectable task. If there is a places(s) to bring the refugees, then it is a well-defined goal that should not require an extended stay.

        On the other hand, if the other side clearly wants to engage the US, then trapping those people is akin to tying a goat to a tree and waiting for the bear to come along.

  19. it seems pretty obvious that the US is weilding military participation as a lever to achieve a change of leadership in Iraq.

    It’s only a coup if you can’t think up a catchy euphemism.

  20. As we are The Great Satan, it only makes sense to help our fellow devil worshippers.

  21. …”I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’ve done.”…

    You just gotta wonder if the guy can look at himself when he shaves.

    1. He probably can’t be seen in a mirror.

    2. I am waiting to hear him say that his thinking on Iraq has “evolved.”

  22. In 2017 troops will be surging in Iraq. Gitmo will be open. Obamacare will be in a death spiral.


  23. 1916: Democrat Woodrow Wilson wins re-election under the slogan, “He kept us out of war.”

    1940: Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt wins re-election in part by promising America’s mothers that he will not send their sons overseas to die in foreign lands.

    1964: Democrat Lyndon Baines Johnson wins re-election by promising that he would never send American boys overseas to fight in Vietnam, and by painting his opponent as a “warmonger.”

    2008: Democrat Barack “Hope and Change” Obama wins election by promising to end the war in Iraq, and later promises never to send troops back there.

    In the spring of 1977, my leftist freshman year history professor told us: “If a Democrat president ever promises not to go to war, and you are a male of draft age, it is time to head to Canada!” One of the few things from college that proved true.

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