When talking up the ISIS war, President Obama always takes time to insist that he’s rule out boots on the ground. A new NBC/WSJ/Annenberg poll shows not that many Americans are believing him.
The poll showed 72% of Americans believe that the US will end up using ground troops in combat in the war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The poll showed Americans split roughly down the middle on whether a ground war would be acceptable, if demanded by Pentagon leadership.
It might be a moot point, however, because even though the president keeps insisting “boots on the ground” won’t happen, the expanding roles of the 1,600-plus “advisers” the US has already sent to Iraq means that in many ways, those boots are already on the ground, and already in combat roles in everything but name.
The administration seems cognizant of that, and we’ve seen a shift in rhetoric in recent weeks to emphasize that they won’t send “tens of thousands” or “hundreds of thousands” of combat troops to Iraq, as a way to differentiate the new war from the last US occupation of Iraq.
Even that seems an increasingly unlikely best-case scenario, as the administration escalates the war at an alarming rate, and what was supposed to be an extremely limited “humanitarian intervention” in Iraq’s Mount Sinjar region has become a full-scale war of destruction against ISIS spanning two nations, and which officials concede will last many years.
Americans may not be up for another open-ended ground war in the Middle East, but that’s what they’ve got, and the real question is how long the administration will be able to keep them from realizing it.