By Moudar Jano
The presidency of the United States is probably one of the most difficult, if not, the most difficult, position a person can hold in their lifetime. That is, of course, one of us daring fellows attempts to pursue such a lofty, and powerful, position. Indeed the person who does so is inscribed in the pages of history. However, as glorious as that may sound, being the President is a position that requires you to make decisions that can forever alter the world we live in, and, subsequently, determine the pages of history to be written. The decisions you make as a leader shape your legacy. That is why I do not envy those who run for such vital and important position in society, not for a second.
Although President Barack Obama was very popular when he was elected back in 2008, I don’t envy him either. Now, hold that thought. You see, we, the United States, have been at war for the past 13 years. Americans, sick and tired of war, elected Barack Obama as President on the premise that he would end the infamous war in Iraq; which, to his credit, he did. Now of course I’m not saying that is the only reason why we elected him, but it was one of the significant reasons those who voted for him did. In 2011, our troops left Iraq. A year later, it was claimed that we caught and killed Osama bin Laden. Then it was announced that in 2014 our troops were leaving Afghanistan as well. The President, for the most part, fulfilled his promise of ending our long and tedious engagement overseas, in Iraq. Oh, I mustn’t forget to mention that in 2009, President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. And just as in 2003 we found ourselves going to war with Iraq for the second time, yet again, we find ourselves re-entangled in Iraq, for a third time. It would seem that fate has not allowed us to wash our hands clean of this Middle Eastern country. Now, as some of you may know, I hope all of you, on 9/10/14, the President declared that we are now going to conduct air campaigns against ISIS. Which, ultimately, takes us back to Iraq. Therein lies the dilemma.
In the President’s speech, he mentioned that the objective was to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS/ISIL. How? He answered by saying that the military was going to begin conducting airstrikes against them. This would provide air support for the Iraqi army on the ground doing the ground fighting. The key point he stressed is that there will be no American “boots on the ground.” However, we’ve already conducted over 150 air strikes in the past few weeks, in conjunction with the operations Iraqi forces have been conducting against ISIS. I have to also mention that Iraqi forces were trained, armed, and equipped by the US. Yet, ISIS is still an effective fighting force; and the combination of Iraqi service men and indigenous militias have not made any significant ground. The taking of Mosul, one of the biggest cities in Iraq, made a mockery of the Iraqi army. ISIS is still gaining ground in Iraq. In fact, they occupy nearly or around 1/3 of the country. How effective will the Iraqi army be against ISIS? Will the U.S. airstrikes alone be enough to tip the scales? I’m not so sure. That is why, unfortunately, I personally take the claim, “no boots on the ground,” with a grain of salt.
Another important problem is Syria. In the past three years, a civil war has been raging in Syria. ISIS occupies most of the northern part of the country. What’s the problem then? The problem is that the US is hostile towards the Syrian regime and wants regime change in Syria. The hostility is mutual however. The President seeks to conduct air strikes in Syria, against ISIS. What’s the problem again? We’re not at war with Syria. Unless the Syrian regime permits US airstrikes on its soil, then, it would be regarded as an act of aggression, which would be illegal, and, possibly, an act that could result in war. In fact, last year, when President Obama attempted to conduct air strikes in Syria against the Syrian regime, the majority of the American public, Congressmen and Senators, disapproved. Could Syria’s main ally Russia retaliate? Sure. Will they? Who knows? Could this spiral into a major conflict? A ground war? A war with Syria? Iran? Another decade, or more, of war? I’m not sure, only time will tell. This all points to one thing, as my good professor says: Quagmire. That is why I don’t envy you Mr. President, not for a second.