In what seems like one of his worst gaffes—and is also possibly an indication of the shape of things to come—Vice President Joe Biden blamed ISIS's rapid advance in Syria on the fact that "there are no boots on the ground."
Some context: Biden was answering CBS's question about whether the Obama administration needed to re-think its Syria strategy. Here's a rough transcript of Biden's reply, if you don't want to watch the video:
"No, what we need to do is double down on our strategy. If you notice, we are making progress against ISIL… in Iraq, because in Iraq we now have a more unified government… and [ISIL is] losing ground. Losing ground… We're gaining in Iraq. Syria, there are no boots on the ground. Syria is a dysfunctional country with nobody in charge. The fact of the matter is we're working with our Arab allies and European allies to build coalitions to be able to take on both Assad and ISIL. It's a difficult process, it's going to take time. And there's no existential threat to the United States because of what's going on there, but there's a threat in the region. We are making progress."
Is Biden saying that ISIS is winning in Syria because there are no U.S. ground forces involved in the conflict yet—the typical implication of the phrase "boots on the ground"? I don't know who else's boots he could be talking about.
This is probably just a gaffe, and Biden didn't actually mean to imply a coming ground war against ISIS in Syria. But these remarks weren't confused merely because it was Biden making them—they were confused because the administration's ISIS strategy is incomprehensible. It relies on delusion about whether the current strategy of airstrikes and logistical support has meaningfully contained the terrorist group, vagueness about what the effort will look like post Congressional authorization, and denial about whether such authorization is constitutionally required.
No wonder Biden doesn't really know how President Obama plans to prevail against ISIS. No one else does, either.
Hat tip: The Washington Free Beacon