Pentagon Pushes Iraq, Syria Escalations

CENTCOM Wants Dramatic Increase in Target List

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel laid out a particularly hysterical view of the “ISIS threat” today, insisting they post a threat to literally every national interest the US has everywhere, and that the US has to prepare for “everything” in its latest war.

It isn’t hard to see where that viewpoint came from, as other Pentagon officials talking about ISIS are showing a similarly alarming perspective as they continue to push the administration for escalations of the war.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey presented ISIS as an “apocalypic” opponent that can only be tacked militarily, and pushed for the US to expand the Iraq War into neighboring Syria, saying that’s the only way to “contain” ISIS.

When pressed on the US escalating the war into Syria, Hagel was evasive, insisting only that the US “continue to explore all options” in their newest war.

In the near term, this is likely to mean mostly an increase in the current air war inside Iraq, as CENTCOM is pushing particularly hard for the US to greatly expand its targets list to allow the large number of warplanes already attacking Iraq to hit many more targets.

The State Department has already chimed in with a request for another 300 ground troops in Baghdad, and further ground operations have already been reported to be in the works for the Anbar Province, along the border with Syria.

Actually escalating the war into Syria itself will be a huge step, and it may well be that the revelation of the failed rescue mission in Syria was part of a campaign to widen expectations for the war’s eventual scope, giving officials the ability to argue the US already added Syria to the war long ago.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.