Obama stuck in war dilemma


Graphic by Kaitlyn Doyle

Earlier this year, Barack Obama, United States President, addressed the crisis in Syria publicly, stating that he had no intentions of sending U.S. military ground troops into to Syria to fight ISIS (Islamic States of Iraq and Syria).

Only a few months later, an unidentified man fighting for ISIS publicly beheaded American journalist Steven Scoloff, and posted a gruesome, graphic video on YouTube for the world to see. In this video, the unidentified man called out Obama telling him to call off the U.S. airstrikes in Syria, or another captive American would soon be killed, and many more after that until the airstrikes have stopped. The United States is best off if we do not involve ourselves directly with the fight in Syria, as the outcome is far too uncertain for the US to have a decent reason to become involved, not to mention Obama would be going against his word.

During the beginning of Obama’s first term as president, he claimed he was going to extract troops from Iraq and return them home. Obama held to his word. He has removed many of the US troops from fighting in Iraq, a war that has been going on for over 10 years. Coincidentally, just as the United States are pulling themselves from one war, Obama has the potential to send us right back into another.

In a Time Magazine article Obama said, “We’ve always known that the end of the war in Afghanistan didn’t mean the end of threats or challenges to America.”

Obama is stuck in a very difficult dilemma. If the U.S. puts ground troops into Syria, it has the potential to start another war that really is none of the United State’s business. On the other hand, if Obama leaves ground troops out of Syria and only continues to drop airstrikes, the conflict between ISIS and Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, may find its way to America.

“I think Israel wants the Syrian Civil War to continue, by weakening Assad’s forces,” said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli government official who is now a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

This is a Civil War in Syria, meaning two groups in one single country are fighting amongst themselves, not against the United States. Obama should not send ground troops into Syria to join the fight, but rather continue with airstrikes until a larger threat is posed.

The risk of starting another war is far greater than simply holding off until the conflict increases. If Obama were to send ground troops into Syria and fight ISIS, that would pose the idea that the U.S. is aiding Bashar al-Assad which is incorrect, and may cause mass confusion amongst states.

Another option the United States has is to find trustworthy Syrian people to fight, trained and armed by the U.S. army. This approach was taken nine years ago at the beginning of the Iraqi war, which ended impetuously. The U.S. thought they had trained the right civilians, gave them many weapons and tanks, but soon found the Sunni people using American weapons to fight against ourselves.

This is approach is far too risky. The U.S. cannot tell a trustworthy, capable, Syrian man or woman, from one with bad intentions. Let’s say Obama decides to send ground troops into Syria. He decides to train and arm who he thinks are trustworthy Syrian people, continue with airstrikes and in the end wipes out ISIS from the Middle East.

Then we are stuck in the Middle East, the Shiite people whom we had just removed ourselves from a war against in Iraq, have our weapons and training, and we now find ourselves stuck in another war, with the same people, and the same beginning as we did nearly eleven years ago in Iraq.

The United States is best off if we do not involve ourselves directly with the fight in Syria, the outcome is far too uncertain for the U.S. to have a decent reason to become involved, not to mention Obama would be going against his word. The risk from either approach has too many uncertainties that could end tragically.