If you like your boots-free Syria, you can keep your boots-free Syria.
The White House reversed course today and announced that the Obama administration would be deploying special forces troops and military advisers to Syria. The new White House policy directly contradicts multiple promises personally made by President Barack Obama in 2013 that he would not put combat boots on the ground in Syria.
"We're not considering any open-ended commitment. We're not considering any boots-on-the-ground approach." —President Obama on #Syria
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 30, 2013
President Obama: "I will not put American boots on the ground in #Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan."
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 11, 2013
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 9, 2013
During his 2013 address promising that he would never put boots on the ground in Syria, Obama said one major reason for his firm, no-troops-in-Syria policy is that Americans are “sick and tired” of aimless, unending wars in the Middle East. He even cited a combat veteran who told him that the nation was suffering from war exhaustion.
“One man wrote to me that we are ‘still recovering from our involvement in Iraq,'” Obama said. “A veteran put it more bluntly: ‘This nation is sick and tired of war.'”
In announcing the seismic change in Syria policy, White House officials failed to offer any evidence that the nation was no longer “sick and tired” of war. In fact, officials told NBC News that Obama’s new policy of deploying boots on the ground in Syria wasn’t a change in policy at all:
The move will be described as a “shift” but not a “change” in U.S. strategy against ISIS, according to another senior U.S. official. The official said the special operations forces will be stationed in northern Syria and work alongside groups with a “proven track record” of fighting ISIS.
The official quoted by NBC did not specify who these groups with “proven track record[s]” of fighting ISIS actually were. Despite spending $500 million in an effort to supply and train Syrian rebels, one senior American military official recently told Congress that only “four or five” anti-ISIS fighters were actually trained via the program.
The Obama administration is yet to publicly identify the precise, measurable goals it attends to achieve through its deployment of American combat troops in Syria.