On Monday, President Obama announced that he’s sending up to 250 military operatives to Syria. This will include both advisors and special forces. The team will train and advise local forces on the ground. While the Pentagon hasn’t provided comprehensive details on the operation, the United States has clarified that its battle is no longer with Assad, but strictly with ISIS. After abandoning the Free Syrian Army, the US is now presumably aiding Syrian Kurds in the north.
Clearly, US policy goals (or what passes as policy) have shifted even if the Obama administration doesn’t want to admit it. Not only is the administration’s language about its Syrian “plan” evasive and equivocal, but it’s littered with contradictions. On Tuesday State Department spokesman John Kirby flat-out denied that the administration had previously promised “no boots in the ground” in Syria.
“There was never this ‘no boots on the ground,’” clamored Kirby, directing his frustration at reporters in the press room. “I don’t know where this keeps coming from?”
"There was never this 'no boots on the ground.'"
State Department Spokesman John Kirby
Well, “it’s coming from” the President of the United States. Here’s what Obama said in September of 2013:
I will not put boots on the ground in Syria.
Here’s what he said again in September of 2014
I will not allow American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.
And again later that same month:
Putting boots on the ground...would be a profound mistake.
And let’s just add December of 2015 for good measure:
We should not be drawn in, once again, in a long and costly ground war.
You get the point.
The administration will likely respond with the following: Military advisors and special forces on the ground are not the same as “combat troops” on the ground. A little bit of semantic parlor tricks there, but let’s pretend to go along with Obamasplaining for a moment. Kirby’s latest statements explicitly denied anybody had even uttered the phrase “no boots on the ground,” as if the imaginative media made it up. Either the State Department’s spokesman is grossly incompetent and legitimately doesn't know what his boss, the Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces, said multiple times in front of a national audience, or Kirby is shamelessly lying. Take your pick.
Like it or not, the Obama administration speaks for the United States on the global stage. The international community listens to and internalizes what State Department officials share publicly about US policy and strategy abroad. The image Kirby projected to the world on Tuesday was one of weakness. The world’s greatest superpower can’t even articulate a foreign policy without falling headfirst into a pit of contradictions.
It was only a matter of time before the Russians picked up on Kirby’s embarrassing press conference. RT, a propaganda arm of the Kremlin, didn’t hold back its ridicule, airing an entire segment on the Obama administration’s flip-flopping on the phrase “no boots on the ground.”
My fellow Americans, watch the clip below to see our country become the butt of the joke: