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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

I guess you know this means war

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Thursday, February 16, 2017 07:30 am

Ruh roh:

The Defense Department is considering proposing sending conventional ground combat forces into northern Syria for the first time as part of an effort to speed up the fight against ISIS, CNN has learned.

"It’s possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time," one defense official told CNN. But the official emphasized that any decision is ultimately up to the President. President Donald Trump has ordered his defense secretary to come up with a proposal to combat ISIS before the end of the month…

Conventional units operate in larger numbers and would require a more significant footprint of security protection both on the ground and in the air.This is how Vietnam started. Well, not quite. There, we had a handful of "advisers" in country, which became a few more, then a few more, until, whoops!, we had hundreds of thousands of boots on the ground. In this case, they seem to be contemplating going from the handful of soldiers we have now to a pretty big force all at once. Remember Donald Trump the candidate saying this?

Donald Trump would deploy up to 30,000 American soldiers in the Middle East to defeat the Islamic State, he said at Thursday night’s debate.

Trump was answering a question about comments from General Lloyd Austin III, the head of U.S. Central Command who said more troops on the ground would be needed to defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

"We really have no choice, we have to knock out ISIS," Trump said. "I would listen to the generals, but I’m hearing numbers of 20,000-30,000."

And this is while we still have troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries in the Middle East.

One thing that's irritating right now is than analyses are starting to come out with all the political pro and con possibilities for Trump. It could get really bad:

The X factor is how the public’s view of Trump will inform its views of an adventure in Syria. Most polling right now has him below 50 percent in job approval. If skepticism about him bleeds into skepticism about the mission, support for the deployment could collapse quickly. And if things go sideways and Trump is forced to choose between withdrawal and escalating with more manpower, the effect on his and the GOP’s popularity could be flammable.

But he could come out a big winner:

On the other hand, if the military were to deliver a hard blow that finally broke apart the shrinking caliphate, Trump and his party would benefit bigly. Instantly it’d give them something to run on in 2018 and 2020: However chaotic the White House may be, the message would go, the man gets results when it comes to stopping the bad guys.

Come on, this isn't a political chess match. It's war. People will be killed. The national security stakes are enormous.

What I would say to Trump, were I asked,  is, please don't do this unless you mean it, unless you're 100 percent committed to the quickest victory possible from the very start. Don't fool around with American lives and end up wasting them for no good reason, the way we did in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan . . .

We also need to know what the mission is. What role will we play in the fight against ISIS and how will that help or hurt the Brutal Assad regime? What about Russia? How will victory be defined — when every last ISIS fighter is dead?

So, make your case to the American people. Tell us why war is the only option we have. Prove to us that we should take this drastic step.

Oddly, since we're supposed to be a people weary of war, some  public opinion polls show a majority of Americans support troops on the ground. Of course, they were in favor of the Vietnam war at the start, too. It took a lot of nightly news reports and protests in the street to turn opinion around. Today, I'd bet support could drop in a heartbeat.

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