Obama Touts ‘Coalition,’ But US to Lead War

Obama's Coalition of Nations Not Committed to Do Anything

President Obama’s major Wednesday speech on the new war against ISIS tried to assure the American public, even as he is expanding a new open-ended Iraq War into neighboring Syria, that there will be “coalition partners” doing the real fighting on the ground.

Yet the nations cobbled together so far, mostly NATO members, haven’t actually committed to do anything, and while a few nations like France and Britain have floated the idea of sending warplanes, none are expected to send ground troops. Secretary of State John Kerry’s tour of the Middle East is unlikely to secure any tangible support either, beyond financial pledges for Syrian rebel factions already being bankrolled by the GCC.

Rather, the “boots on the ground” in this major new war are likely to be exclusively the Iraqi and Kurdish forces already there in the near-term, as the US continues to build up its own presence on the ground for what, despite all promises to the contrary, is going to be an American ground war.

President Obama made it clear that the air war is just “stage one” of the war, but the future assumptions that the heavy lifting of the ground war is going to be carried out by some coalition partners is sheer fantasy. The war is, and was always going to be, America’s to fight.

The scramble for the buildup began awhile ago, with the Pentagon already putting out feelers for contractors to support an open-ended conflict in Iraq. Announcements of a few hundred new troops for Iraq, including 475 announced at tonight’s speech,  are happening pretty much weekly now.

With the president continuing to try to pretend this isn’t taking the US straight down the road to a new ground war in Iraq (and Syria), the policy continues to be sneaking as many ground troops in under the radar as quickly as possible, while continuing to scare the public about the ISIS threat so that when the ground war begins in earnest, they are too frightened to object.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. 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.