FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

“No Boots on the Ground” and Other Fairy Tales

Last August the president began his air war against the Islamic State which controls two Iraqi provincial capitals and the city of Falluja. Obama declared that his purpose was to “dismantle” the I.S. By April of this year, the Pentagon’s 4,050 missile and bombing strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria had cost over $2.1 billion, over $8 million a day, but without any success. Then on May 16, after assuring the country that “I will not allow the US to be dragged into another war in Iraq,” the president sent a group of US commandos on their first raid into Syria. Since Congress has not declared war, this unauthorized attack and intensification would make Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon proud. Can the Nobel Committee withdraw a Peace Prize for cause?

Although the White House has repeatedly said it would not add “boots on the ground” to wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc., the assurance is bogus. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last November he was studying the use of US ground troops to “accompany” Iraqi soldiers on “complex” raids. “We’re certainly considering it,” Dempsey told the House Armed Services Committee.

Now, having made no progress since its August 2014 escalation, Obama announced his curtsey to Gen. Dempsey on June 9, declaring that he would add 450 US commandos (whom he calls “trainers”) to the 3,000 “advisers” already there. The next day, the president announced that the US would build yet another military base, this time in Anbar Province. The new base will presumably be built on the ground without the use of boots.

About these numbers, Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown University, wrote in the Washington Post last Sept., “It’s hard to know what publicly reported troop numbers really mean. When the Pentagon issues a Boots on the Ground report, known colloquially as a ‘BOG report,’ it often excludes military personnel on ‘temporary duty,’ in combat areas, even though temporary duty may [last] 5 or 6 months. Special Operations personnel assigned to work under CIA auspices are often left out of the BOG numbers.”

Promises to prohibit boots on the ground are especially unreliable in view of events in Mali in 2013. That Feb., Obama announced that about 100 US troops were in Niger to set up a drone base to support French military attacks across the border into Mali. The Pentagon said this was legit, since senior US officials had said for months that they would not put ‘boots on the ground’ there. Just in case you were born yesterday, the 47 missions flown by the Air Force’s C17 “Globemaster” — that carried 975 French troops and over 1,200 tons of equipment into Mali to battle an Al Qaeda offshoot — were not a part of any combat.

The new Anbar outpost is conspicuously combative. It adds to six US Army bases, a US Marine Corps base, and the five US Joint Operations bases already established permanently in Iraq. The base is officially to be for the 450 new commandoes who are officially on a mission to “train, advise and assist.” The White House’s public reason for this escalation is to reach out to Sunni tribes in Anbar, and to increase the percentage of Sunni fighters in the Iraqi Army — now dominated by Shiites.

Call this “mission impossible,” since it’s been tried for years in Afghanistan and is notorious for producing Green-on-Blue “insider” assassinations — the murder of US trainers by their Afghan trainees. This is a well-known and inevitable result of wars of occupation.

Relentless bombing and combat cannot end well and is the effort is crumbling already, just as the CIA said it would. So over-taxed are US fighting forces in the region that in March, US commandoes in Yemen had to cut and run out of Sana, the capital, to a US base in Djibouti, after first blowing up their own heavy equipment — out of fear that the weapons would be captured by Houthi troops. How many citizens even knew the US had Special Forces in Yemen, especially after the president takes every opportunity to promise “no troops on the ground”? The fine print behind the latest White House war plan is that it claims to have authority to make attacks anywhere in the world beyond the Islamic State and battle “any associated persons or forces.”

Not only has Iraq has become “an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was,” as even the CIA predicted in a leaked 2005 report, but, as retired CIA veteran Milt Bearden warned in 2004, “Every nationalist-base insurgency against a foreign occupation ultimately succeeded,” every one. I wonder if anyone on Earth thinks the US can be the first to break this pattern.

More articles by:

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail