The hawks criticize Obama for not taking more decisive action against ISIS and Syria. Obama defenders race to his side and point out that he is not looking to engage the US in another war. But this is the same President that had no problems giving the go-ahead to kill al-Awlaki (an Islamic militant, cleric and US citizen) and Bin Laden (only the most wanted terrorist who was sanctioned for killing instead of capture). What has changed in the Obama administration? The following two quotes, one from Secretary of State Kerry and one from former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, point to the same phenomena through the eyes of political media-speak.
From Secretary Kerry: 'We need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, to bolster the Iraqi security forces and others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own,' U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a meeting of 10 nations. Obviously I think that's a red line for everybody here: no boots on the ground.' The Daily Mail
From Mitt Romney, ever hopeful Presidential candidate; "The Republican Party's 2012 presidential candidate opened up with both barrels on the White House, warning that 'bullying, invasion and regional wars' will ultimately become the norm if the U.S. withdraws from its historical role as the sole superpower capable of knitting together the world's fragile detente." The Daily Mail
It may not look like it but they have both said something important, unfortunately it gets lost in the translation of political double-speak. Now watch this video from the Ohio National Guard. If you can't watch the video, t basically announces for the first time ever all of the unit training assemblies (drills) for Ohio Army National Guard in September are being postponed until the end of the month. Why? Because there is no money! This is not the fault of the Ohio National Guard or even the National Guard Bureau, this is the effects of the Obama administration.
Obama set out to cut the military from the very beginning. His promise to bring the troops home was not about ending the war but about ending the justification for having a large standing military. It was no coincidence that sequestration occurred during his watch. By implementing sequestration, Obama forced the military to cancel programs and reduce end-strength. He may or may not have understood sequestration would also effect readiness by reducing things such as flight hours, training hours, and drills. Obama also fired a record number of general officers (very likely, this were officers that would not have gone along with budgetary cuts quietly).
Sexual assaults and cheating scandals of the nuclear launch officers became hot button issues highlighting an unhealthy culture of the military. Sexual assaults and cheating are not new phenomenons to the military (nor the rest of our society) and they cannot be tolerated. However, one wonders if Obama's new found passion for righting these matters is not in part spurred but the desire to remove the heroic images of the military. It is easier to cut the budgets of sexual predators and cheaters than it is to cut funding for war heroes.
The nuclear launch officers cheating also provide fuel for another Obama goal. Obama has wanted to reduce nuclear weapons but met with resistance from those in Congress who still see a need to deter Russian and Chinese nuclear attacks. To Obama, the cheating scandals provide ammunition for reducing/eliminating an obsolete part of the military. Again, this is not to excuse the cheating of those officers but rather to point out how this works into a grander strategy for Obama.
The real reason then for no boots on the ground is Obama knows his cuts have finally started to take effect in the military. It is perhaps why he also has been espousing the virtues of multi-lateral partnerships. It is all designed to build the case for a much smaller military. You don't need a large standing military if you can get your friends to help you out. Perhaps this analysis is wrong and it merely a series of coincidences that appear related. However, if the analysis is correct it means future Presidents will face even more challenges as world leaders begin to realize the US military is only a fraction of what it once was.
Perhaps this is why Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf got quoted saying, "Completing the mission" is a term – I don't even know what that means when you're talking about terrorist organizations" The Daily Mail