Can We Please Have a Reality-Based President?

Barack Obama continues to pretend that there isn’t a sand castle’s chance in an earthquake that we will need ground troops in Iraq:

President Obama doubled down Wednesday on an increasingly questioned pledge: There will be no U.S. ground combat troops back in Iraq.

“I will not commit you, and the rest of our armed forces, to fighting another ground war in Iraq,” Obama told troops at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

After a briefing with military leaders at CENTCOM, Obama said forces in Iraq and Syria must fight ground battles against the Islamic State, a jihadist group also known as ISIL and ISIS.

Obama also said the United States — which is conducting airstrikes in Iraq and planning them in Syria — will be joined by a coalition of other nations under threat by the Islamic State.

“This is not and will not be America’s fight alone,” Obama said.

The renewed pledge of no U.S. combat troops came amid some skepticism over whether the United States can follow through on a plan that relies on Iraqi and Syrian forces to roll back the Islamic State.

No one should believe these claims, of course, and it is refreshing (and unsurprising) to see that former secretary of defense Robert Gates is calling shenanigans on the president’s comments:

President Obama will have to use ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in order for his plan to succeed, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.

“The reality is, they’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, [or] the Sunni tribes acting on their own. So, there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy,” Gates, who served under Obama, said on “CBS This Morning.”

“And I think that by continuing to repeat that [there won’t be boots on the ground], the president, in effect, traps himself,” he said.

Gates’s remarks came a day after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said the president told him he would consider putting U.S. troops in direct combat on a “case-by-case” basis.

When it comes to the issue of ground troops, either the Obama administration will be forced to reverse course–which will reveal that its current rhetoric, ruling out the use of ground troops, is naïve at best, and dishonest at worst–or the administration will prosecute this war ineptly and incompetently, leading to a strategic defeat for the United States and a serious setback for American interests. That I am forced to root for the former scenario to unfold is an indication of just how bad our choices are.