Tags: Barack Obama | Iraq in Crisis | ISIS/Islamic State | War on Terrorism | Arnaud de Borchgrave | ISIS | Obama

De Borchgrave: 'No Possibility' of Beating ISIS Without US Troops

By    |   Wednesday, 10 September 2014 04:56 PM

The United States will never eliminate the ISIS threat without putting boots on the ground in Syria, foreign policy expert Arnaud de Borchgrave tells Newsmax.

Citing the precedent of the bombing campaigns over Vietnam and Nazi Germany that ultimately proved indecisive, de Borchgrave said: "There is no possibility of defeating ISIS unless we’re willing to put ground troops in — which of course we’re not, and Congress wouldn’t authorize it."

Speaking in an exclusive Newsmax interview, de Borchgrave added that defeating ISIS also would require cutting a deal with Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad: "The bottom line is we’re not putting in ground troops, and we’re not making a deal with Assad."

Recent polls suggest, however, that voters may be shaking off their post-Iraq war hangover.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday showed 65 percent of Americans now support U.S. airstrikes in Syria — more than double the number who supported striking Assad last year over his use of chemical weapons. But military experts say U.S. special-operations forces would be needed on the ground to attack targets in urban areas.

De Borchgrave, the longtime Newsweek editor who also served as editor-in-chief of the Washington Times, predicted a war-weary U.S. public would soon come to oppose the deployment of U.S. ground forces in Syria.

The director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies also criticized the Obama administration’s mixed messaging on ISIS.

At times the administration has appeared intent on destroying the group, and on other occasions officials speak of merely degrading its capability.

"It’s not a time for ambiguity," de Borchgrave said. "It’s time for clarity."

The award-winning journalist called on President Barack Obama in his speech Wednesday evening to clarify precisely what the airstrikes in Syria would accomplish. He added the president, who said famously last week that "We don’t have a strategy yet" on ISIS, must clarify his broader strategic objectives.

De Borchgrave said Obama also would have to reconcile the looming air campaign with his prior remarks that Assad "must go." Bombing ISIS extremists would inevitably help Assad, he says.

The ongoing ambiguity over the administration’s strategy in the Middle East, de Borchgrave said, in part reflects larger political problems in Washington — which he brands "a dysfunctional capital city."

"The interagency coordination, or lack thereof, is dysfunctional," he said. "No wonder the American people are hesitant to go back to bombing. We’ve totally forgotten bombing didn’t work before."

De Borchgrave also warned that the rising drumbeat of war has restored the standing of U.S. neoconservative theorists, who favor the assertive, if judicious, application of U.S. military power to maintain the global world order.

"They are back in business because there’s a vacuum of power," he tells Newsmax. "You’ve seen the hesitancy of President Obama in the last week or two. It’s been noticed by the whole world.

"Now all of the sudden, he knows what he’s going to do: $5 billion dollars — for what? No ground troops and no deal with President Assad in Damascus — it isn’t going to work."

He also added that Obama appears to view the battle against ISIS as one that will not be resolved until well after he leaves the Oval Office. That would mean Obama, who came into office promising to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, would instead bequeath a new conflict to his successor.

"Kicking the can down the road seems to have become a policy, and that’s what we’re about to do," he said. "I hope I’m wrong, but I fear that is the direction in which he’s moving. It’s the line of least resistance."

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The United States will never eliminate the ISIS threat without putting boots on the ground in Syria, foreign policy expert Arnaud de Borchgrave tells Newsmax.
Arnaud de Borchgrave, ISIS, Obama
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 04:56 PM
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