Well, that didn't take long. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) has signaled that it may be inevitable that American troops will be fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq. From an ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos yesterday:
"If I were the president, [said Boehner,] "I probably wouldn't have talked about what I wouldn't do — and maybe we can get enough of those forces trained to get them on the battlefield, but somebody's boots have to be there."
"If no one else will step up, would you recommend putting American boots on the ground?" Stephanopoulos pressed.
"We have no choice," Boehner warned. "These are barbarians. They intend to kill us, and if we don't destroy them first, we're going to pay the price."
Needless to say, Boehner is also quite happy not to actually demand that Congress actually vote on current actions in the region, saying that he agrees with Obama that previous authorizations to use military force cover everything OK. Yet he'd "be happy to" call Congress back into session for a vote if the president requested it.
While we puzzle over the twin awfulness of Boehner's position, let's not forget the serious threat inflation at work here. To pretend that ISIS is an existential threat to the United States, or that it has the capacity to actually do harm to us in any serious way is simply wrong. ISIS is a problem for Iraq and Syria and its geographic neighbors—it isn't for us.
And that this latest round of action in the Middle East is starting off under a cloud of stupid. President Obama acknowledged to 60 Minutes that U.S. intelligience had both overestimated the resolve and capabilities of Iraqi troops while underestimating the abilities of ISIS.
Which would be troubling enough but gets even murkier when you consider Eli Lake's must-read story at The Daily Beast. It's simply not true, reports Lake:
One former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted. "Either the president doesn't read the intelligence he's getting or he's bullshitting," the former official said.
So we've got a president who is either incompetent or lying and a speaker whose party is calling out the president for weakness when it comes to war-making and is willing to put U.S. troops on the ground as long as they don't have to, you know, vote on it.
This is not going to turn out well.