Poll after poll is asking these days whether the United States should send ground troops to Iraq/Syria. They are asking the wrong question. What they should be asking is how many troops the public is willing to send to that conflict -- because we already have about 3,000 "boots on the ground" in that war, and we will soon have more.
The government just announced that more "special operations" troops are being sent to Iraq. They didn't say how many, but most media sources put it as between 200 and 450 more soldiers. And the military officials said they wouldn't hesitate to ask for more troops "if needed" (and you can bet they'll think they are needed).
I probably sound like a broken record to regular readers, but I am beginning to be reminded of the Vietnam War -- where we started with a few Special Forces soldiers, and thanks to mission creep, wound up with hundreds of thousands of troops in that country. Are we committing that tragic mistake again?
I don't think we should have any American troops at all in Iraq/Syria. This is a religious civil war, and if it must be fought at all, it should be fought by those countries in that region -- the countries most affected by the threat of ISIS. The MOST we should be doing is giving air support and arms to those willing to fight ISIS.
I know our politicians are trying to frame this growing war effort in Iraq/Syria as a war on terrorism. I don't buy it. Even if ISIS is defeated in a land war, that will not stop their terrorist efforts. It will probably increase it. Terrorists can always find a place to hide, train, and plan their terrorist operations -- and thinking a land war in Iraq/Syria will stop ISIS terrorism is just wishful thinking.
But I seem to be in a minority. We are already fighting in that war, and now the question we should probably be asking is how we are going to do that. Robert Reich (on his own blog) has listed five prerequisites for waging this new war. It's a fairly reasonable assessment. He says: