You know who really doesn't want troops on the ground in America's new war? Troops.
The Military Times yesterday released a poll of about 2,200 active-duty troops, just over 70 percent of whom don't want the Obama administration to put American soldiers in Iraq to fight the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS). Syria wasn't included, since the survey was conducted before military action began there.
The Times suggests:
Opponents of an expanded mission fall into two camps. Some troops think the U.S. should simply stay out of the conflagration engulfing the Middle East. But others take a more nuanced view.
One Air Force lieutenant colonel said he supports taking the fight to the Islamic State militants, even if that involves a large number of U.S. combat troops. But he worries that the country's leadership will not completely see the mission through.
"If we do it halfheartedly, we shouldn't do it at all," he said, adding that America should expand its military mission in Iraq "only if we're committed to complete victory."
"I'm not hearing that now," he said. "There's political fear of blowback for making such a declaration. War, as ugly as it is, should be done in a very overwhelming and clear fashion."
Wariness and weariness about war in the sandbox doesn't seem to be partisan. The survey also highlights the fact that "over the past four years of the annual poll, the percentage of active-duty troops who believe the first U.S. war in Iraq was a success has declined significantly." The number of those who believe it was successful have more than halved to 25.5 percent. Meanwhile, soldiers who say it "wasn't successful at all" have more than doubled to 31.2 percent. Another 28 percent say it "wasn't very successful."
Although President Barack Obama has assured he "will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil," he's also pumped up his war rhetoric to Bush levels, saying that there's no room to "negotiate with this brand of evil." That leaves few options on how to deal with them.
Retired Gen. David Petraeus stated last week that troops would be necessary. He said they could be Iraqi troops, but acknowledged it would take "months and years" for them to "deal with" ISIS. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey has hinted that American troops might be the only thing that'll do the trick. One veteran of the last Iraq war writes in Politico that "boots on the ground" rhetoric is deliberately fuzzy, but for all intents and purposes they're already there.
It's little wonder why, in spite of Obama's promises, the majority of America's civilian population suspect this will become a ground war.