When it comes to gifts that keep on giving, we all probably could have done without yet another extended war in the Middle East. But that's what we seem to have as President Obama emerged from a meeting with military officials from countries that have joined the coalition aganst ISIS to announce, "this is going to be a long-term campaign. There are not quick fixes involved. We're still at the early stages. As with any military effort, there will be days of progress and there are going to be periods of setback."
Oh goody. I'd hate to think my son would reach enlistment age too late to participate in the fun.
How committed that coalition is to an open ended effort to battling ISIS and "communicating an alternative vision for those who are currently attracted to the fighting inside Iraq and Syria" is an open question. Turkey's rapid repudiation of White House insistence that the country had agreed to coalition use of its military bases may be only the tip of the iceberg. Foreign Policy's Gopal Ratnam and John Hudson describe it as a "kiss and tell problem." Like a high school nerd desperate for a girlfriend, the Obama administration is so eager to interpret the slightest kindness as a total commitment that it immediately trumpets its new relationship to the world—and scares its new friend away. Write Ratnam and Hudson:
The conflicting versions of events from the two allies have one of two causes. One is political: The White House is eager to show a war-weary American public that the United States won't be fighting alone, but many Middle Eastern countries don't want to rile up their own populations by advertising their roles in the coalition. The other is a more basic and troubling one: that Washington may be consistently misreading its partners and overestimating just how committed they are to the fight.
The governments of Georgia and Slovenia also backpedaled from U.S. announcements of deeper relationships than either country was willing to acknowledge in world-wide press releases.
Now that the Obama administration is insisting on a long-term commitment instead of a military quicky, the problem can only get worse.