In the case of Bush and the first Gulf War, "the objective was clear-cut and finite," argues Thomas Lippman, an adjunct scholar at the non-profit Middle East Institute In Washington. "And the countries that were asked to sign on could see that the United States was fully committed to do the heavy lifting: there were half a million American troops in Saudi Arabia, awaiting the signal to begin operations."
"The situation confronting Obama and … Kerry is considerably murkier," Lippman writes in an analysis posted Monday on MEI's website. "The United States is not just herding cats, it is herding wolves, rabbits, chameleons, and maybe a few sheep."
"Obama and Kerry are asking other countries to join the United States in an effort to destroy a group of armed rebels who are not invaders, but mostly indigenous to Iraq and Syria," Lippman continues. "The mission is open-ended. The United States is not prepared to send any ground troops, let alone half a million."