Is there anyone else who has heard what Obama has been saying about " no American boots on the ground" in Syria and Iraq in the fight against ISIS? There are so many other roles than actually bearing arms and taking the fight "man to man" on the battlefield including strategy, intelligence, training as well as airstrikes.
Even former Secretary of Defence Robert Gates has cautioned Obama to avoid "trapping" himself by repeating the "no boots on the ground" litany, given Gates' perception and belief that there will no victory without such boots on the ground.
There is a much bigger issue than the question of whether American forces will repeat the mistakes of both Iraq and Afghanistan: and one of the most important is that Obama is vigilantly and earnestly seeking a path that does not, once again, say to the world that the United States is in a fight against Islam.
This morning, we are learning that five Middle Eastern countries, along with the United States, have begun to launch airstrikes against ISIS cells in Syria. Included in the list are the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
As we learn of these new air strikes, we await decisions by both Egypt and Turkey, both of which countries, if they were to join the campaign against ISIS, would send a loud and unequivocal message to the Islamic world that this extreme Sunni version of Islam is not either tolerable or valid as an expression of Islam. The question of bringing Sunni's, moderate Sunni's, into the coalition has been one of Obama's long-term goals in his pursuit of ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups that have been wreaking havoc in so many corners of the globe.
The King of Jordan, appearing on Sunday talk shows in the U.S., was barely able to utter the words ISIS and Islam in the same sentence, so contemptuous of ISIS' incarnation of the faith he and his people have been practicing for centuries. His country, not incidentally, has tried to "absorb" nearly one million refugees from Syria, putting extreme pressure on the resources of his country. He estimates that the refugee total now living in what amounts to a tent city, now reaches approximately 20% of the population of Jordan, and equivalent to some 60,000,000, if the equation were applied to the United States.
Let's not minimize or simplify the complexity of this "humanitarian struggle," to quote the new Prime Minister of India Modi who, as a Hindu, has been excluded from visiting the United States for his previous conflict with Islam while he was governor of an Indian province, prior to becoming the leader of his country. Lifting the struggle out of merely a Sunni versus Shia context, within the Islamic community, and framing the conflict as one that threatens the peace order and good government of all countries, Modi has significantly added to the international support for the broad and appropriate goals and the agenda of the American president.
Nevertheless, having entered Syria, where the civil war has witnessed the killing of well over 100,000, in a three-year-plus conflict to overthrow the dictator Assad, no friend of the Americans, and supported by both Iran and Russia, the U.S.-led coalition is attempting to "threat the needle" in attacking ISIS, supporting the moderate Syrian rebels, and even without apology, aiming some of their arsenal at Assad's Syrian government forces. There is some legitimacy to the question of whether Obama is and has been so patient in refraining from attacking Assad directly while calling for the elimination of his chemical weapons stockpile, that he now has Islamic cover for the "inadvertent" overthrow of the Syrian dictator.
And, another question that must be asked is, "How long will both Iran, an open backer of Hamas and Hezbollah as well as Assad, and Russia (Iran's most vocal advocate in the negotiations over that country's alleged development of nuclear weapons, and Assad's source of weapons) stay on the sidelines of the military conflict inside both Syria and Iraq?" The new leader of Iraq has already asked, not exclusively rhetorically, why Iran is not being invited to join the fight against ISIS in Iraq?
It is not rocket science to wonder out loud, as did the former Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chretien, this weekend, how long countries like Canada can remain on the periphery of this conflict...."once we're in we're in" was the way he put it in an interview on CBC radio on Saturday morning. How long will it be before many more than the initial 69 military personnel from Canada will be sent to the war theatre as combat soldiers, notwithstanding the pleas of the Canadian prime minister that echo those of the U.S. president, not to commit "Canadian boots on the ground" to the fight.
The campaign to de-fang ISIS, including the ideal goal of destroying the terrorist group, will take its "dog-and -pony show" to the United Nations tomorrow when the Obama chairs a meeting of the Security Council to bring even more nations into the effort. This event itself is almost without precedent, when a leader of a country actually chairs a Security Council meeting for any purpose.
Presumably, Obama will be attempting to put pressure on countries like Egypt and Turkey, among others, to help them to see how important they would be to the struggle to remove this scourge from the planet.
We have learned this weekend of the dangers to the health of humans from global warming and climate change, as the United Nations ramps up its efforts to bring some public attention to their campaign to bring diverse nations to an agreement to take substantive action on this front. Is anyone in some office in some university in Canada or the United States, actually taking the pulse of the impact on the health of human beings from the threats posed by the now-more-than-adequately funded ISIS? Is there any person in any city who can perceive or believe that s/he is safe from the tentacles of this radical and savage movement?
ISIS is truly a "humanitarian" threat, with a human face.
Global warming is also a "humanitarian threat" with multiple corporate faces as enemy, in their increasing entanglement with politicians to preserve their pursuit of profit, at the expense of the world's shared air, water and land.
Is the silver lining in the cloud of the war against ISIS the possibility of achieving a similar and also potentially effective coalition to fight the destruction of the planet's environment? We can only hope.