The deployment of 450 soldiers to train and help Iraqi troops regain lost ground from ISIS combatants, is an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous step for President Barack Obama, who, right from the start, has intended to put an end to the U.S. presence in Iraq.
Obama’s reticence is understandable. There is nothing Islamic extremists want more than fighting U.S. soldiers. The presence of those troops in the region will be a significant argument in the campaign to recruit fighters. The danger lies in an escalation of the conflict in case of situations impossible to control from Washington, like the capture or public execution of soldiers.
Those military advisors will join the other 3,000 who are already in Iraq under the same mission. According to the Pentagon, the 450 advisors will establish a new military base to train troops who will participate in the recovery of the city of Ramadi. On Thursday, a day after the new deployment announcement, the Army’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey, said that this could lead to the creation of more U.S. bases, entailing a presumed surge of troops to occupy them.
The advance of ISIS in Iraq is a matter of serious concern for its destabilizing and unpredictable effect in the region, as well as its brutality. This view is shared by European countries that are also experiencing the migratory exodus of those fleeing chaos. Coordinating with them will be crucial in this war.
Some people, like Senator and Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham, who proposes sending as many as 10,000 soldiers to combat ISIS, believe that U.S. troops can win the war. This recipe for an escalation without a clear plan is, regrettably, all too familiar.
An enduring stability for the region can only be achieved by the surrounding countries. The confrontation between Shiites and Sunnis will not be resolved by anyone but themselves. The U.S. plan to help Sunni tribes’ fighters join the Iraq Shiite army is only one example of an extremely difficult, high-risk and exposed mission that requires caution from Washington.