Maybe They’re Wearing Sneakers
I won’t waste any precious column space mincing words or joking around. This latest move by the Obama administration to “shift gears” or “change strategies” in the current bedlam that is Syria is a mistake; check that—a big mistake.
Of course the knee-jerk reaction to cite Viet Nam or the last Iraq War, two of the most egregiously criminal conflicts this country embroiled its military and people in, is patently unfair. What is not unfair is that if this escalates—and thus far this president has not been honest about how things are being handled there, almost without question repeatedly saying the opposite of what appears to anyone paying attention to be the actual policy (the most obvious of these is the continued nonsense about “no boots on the ground” or “no combat personnel”)—it will certainly resemble them.
These are the soft lies of ramping up a war that no one wants and no one sees coming until we are trillions in debt and there are kids coming home in boxes or with vital parts missing.
What makes this worse than even those conflicts at its origins is that there is no clear enemy. We do not know, neither does our fancy intelligence that helped usher us into the Iraq War, who the hell we’re fighting for or against. This is a fact. Pentagon officials declined on two different occasions this week to specify which groups they will work with, or where they will be located. The Russians, who have stupidly thrown themselves into this thing to prop up a doomed regime, have no idea who they are fighting. Those fighting on the ground barely know, if they know at all.
Right now there are several factions, none of which could loosely be described as an American ally or even an eventual threat to the United States, perpetually fighting—door to door and street to street—in Syria. There are “rebels”, who are made up of ISIS fighters and al Qaeda and Saudis and Kurds and Turks, and on “the other side” there are Syrian defense fighters at the behest of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and next to them Iranian-backed soldiers of fortune, and a different faction of al Qaeda, and from what I see on CNN, thrown into the sinkhole, is a cadre of freelance Americans who are playing Cowboys and Indians because their penises are too small or their girlfriend left them or McDonald’s isn’t hiring.
Syria right now makes Viet Nam and Iraq look sane.
Let me write again: This is a big mistake.
The announcement this week (and by announcement, I mean more bullshit that is nowhere near what is actually happening, which is likely 10-times worse and coming in about two months too late) that 50 or so “special operators” will be in country to “advise” and “deploy” and “recon” and all the other shuck-and-jive we’ve heard from the Westmorelands and Wolfowitzs who foolishly lead their charges into damnation.
A glaring example of this is the combat soldier killed in combat while carrying out a combat mission in Iraq, which ignited nearly a week of yammering out of the Pentagon about how he really wasn’t in combat. This is what our greatest war criminal, Lyndon Baines Johnson would have called “a riddle wrapped in an enigma” before he sent thousands of American kids to die in a jungle against their will for nothing.
Senior White House “officials” and Pentagon spokesmen echoed the mantra that these troops will be deployed for less than 60 days at a time, and then this nugget: “We will not be establishing our own, U.S.-led headquarters … we will go to where they are. Our vision, at least at the outset, is for them to go for small amounts of time and to one location. I don’t anticipate they’ll be moving from place to place with regularity. They are not going to be out and about to advise and assist in the way we are in Iraq. This is to get guys on the ground and get eyes on … to see what more is possible. This is a start.”
Oh, it’s a start all right. Like Kennedy’s set of advisors and Mission Accomplished; the usual fog of war that takes our money and our youth and our legitimacy; we’re no longer legitimate, if we ever were, or at least not since WWII. We have no international voice that really matters, and this myth keeps us from admitting that not everything that happens everywhere is our business and that barely anything that happened in Viet Nam and Iraq was of vital or any defensive interest to this country.
It is a lie. It is a dangerous, unholy lie, and we keep hearing it, and now we hear it from our anti-war president, the one I have championed for his previously smart and cautious Middle East policy; one that does not repeat the mistakes of centuries of over-zealousness by nations trying to quell centuries of bloodlust.
But that is over now. Barack Obama has begun the path for which he was definitely not elected. And trust me, whether it is Hillary Clinton or whatever war puppet the Republicans spat out, it will be far worse.
Barack Obama, September, 2013: “I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan.”
Maybe they’re wearing sneakers.
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James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, “Midnight For Cinderella” and “Y”. His new book, “Shout It Out Loud—The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon” is due out this October.