By Sal Bommarito
President Obama has proven to be one of the most unpredictable leaders in modern times. This characterization is based upon his propensity to adjust earlier policies for a wide assortment of reasons even if new perspectives contradict earlier assurances. Obama seems to have trouble staying any course.
Last week, after indicating on several occasions that granting amnesty to illegal aliens was not a constitutional option available to the president, Obama, in effect, gave amnesty to several million people living illegally in the U.S.
Yesterday, the president decided to step up military operations in Afghanistan as reported by the New York Times. What? I thought the American occupation of Afghanistan was over. But, the president flip-flopped on yet another promise. Why did he implement this reversal? After all, U.S. is back in Iraq after guarantees that the hostilities in that country were over. Why not reengage in Afghanistan as well?
Obama is not shy about surging in any hot spot when it suits him. In Afghanistan, increased aggression by the Taliban, an improved relationship with the new Afghan leader and a full court press by U.S. generals has led to another change in policy. The new policy “ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting [in Afghanistan] for at least another year.
Obama’s decision “allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government . . .” In May, the president indicated that U.S. troops would have no combat role in Afghanistan in 2015. Supposedly, his change of heart to increase U.S. engagement was influenced by the ISIS situation and the inability of Iraqi forces to repel ISIS fighters.
The new direction in Afghanistan foretells more changes in U.S. military operations in the region. How will Obama resist the urge to deploy ground forces in Iraq? The same generals are telling the president directly and indirectly that the mission to destroy ISIS is in great jeopardy without support on the ground. If Iraqi officials became more amenable, will the president ignore their request for him to surge in the country? Doubtful.
What is disturbing is that the president continues to change his policies in reaction to an assortment of pressures. They may come from the enemy, host countries, U.S. allies, the political environment back home and Obama’s legacy, which has taken a beating in recent weeks. The problem with this apparent indecision is that no one can depend upon what the president says. He just cannot be trusted to set an objective and follow through to its consummation.
In Iraq and Syria, things are going to deteriorate as ISIS troops advance, or at a minimum retain and fortify existing positions. It is highly likely that the generals will win over Obama, and the U.S. will then assume a greater role by sending in ground troops to fight ISIS.