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article imageOp-Ed: Why the U.S. should not rule out boots on the ground against ISIS

By Calvin Wolf     Sep 11, 2014 in Politics
President Obama has vowed to neutralize ISIS as a dangerous organization, but has also vowed not to use U.S. ground troops to do the job. This "war on the cheap" method is exactly what landed us in trouble in Iraq in 2003.
The world is full of increasing dangers. Years ago, threats were simpler: There were no weapons of mass destruction and the only way mass chaos and destruction could be brought to our shores was through a coordinated attack by an enemy nation. Today, we face threats from WMDs falling into the hands of rogue groups that can use modern technology to transport them, hidden, deep into our territory. Terrorists and extremists can attack from afar using the Internet, cell phones, and other digital means. They can access planes and ships to strike at our cities in ways previous generations of foes could not.
We cannot maintain our safety solely by patrolling and arming our borders and coastlines - terrorists and extremists can use planes, missiles, rockets, and even coordinated digital attacks to create fear and damage from hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away. We must prove that we are willing to take the fight to them. Otherwise, extremists and rogues like those of ISIS will be able to plot and plan in comfort, devising plans to strike America from a safe distance.
But President Barack Obama opposes the use of U.S. ground troops to combat ISIS, reports CNN. Obviously, this is welcome news to ISIS, which can plan for airstrikes only. While the threat of more U.S. airstrikes against ISIS is obviously better than nothing, the continued U.S. mantra of "no boots on the ground" only emboldens our enemies. Frankly, it makes us look weak, like we lack the stomach for a righteous fight.
And, after failing to punish Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad for using chemical weapons against his own people in 2013, the U,S. already is not in a position of diplomatic strength. We vowed punishments if Al-Assad crossed the "redline"...but failed to deliver when he did so. Did this go unnoticed by ISIS, Iran, North Korea, or Al Qaeda? Certainly not.
Nobody wants conflict. Nobody wants war. But when danger is imminent, it must be neutralized. Failing to effectively neutralize a threat only allows it to fester, perhaps growing worse. Airstrikes, if insufficient to defeat ISIS, will only allow it to fester and, over time, develop new plots, plans, and schemes to strike back.
If we are going to defeat ISIS we must not be halfhearted or hesitant - we must use all means at our disposal, which included ground troops. To prevent a repeat of the Iraq War, we must fully engage and fully defeat our foe on multiple fronts, not allowing a guerrilla war or insurgency the chance to develop. Fighting a war "on the cheap," as we did in 2003, did not allow us to protect and stabilize the vast swaths of territory we came to govern. In that vacuum, extremists flourished. It will be the same in former ISIS territory if we are not careful. Many former ISIS fighters, pretending to have been civilians all along, will seize the opportunity of a sparse and weak occupation to return to their nefarious plans.
We need soldiers on the ground to prevent this. We pay to maintain the mightiest armies on Earth...why do we openly proclaim that we shall not use them? Barack Obama must reverse his claim that we will not use "boots on the ground."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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