By making such a point about ‘no ground troops,’ the President did two very bad things. First, he reduced the enemy’s uncertainty about our intentions. Second, he gave a global impression that he needed to promise ‘no ground troops’ to the American people because he thinks that otherwise his political position is so weak that he couldn’t get support for an air war. This is a bad mistake: it suggests to our enemies that our resolve is shaky. Even and especially if that is true, we don’t want to tell them this.”◼ A President Surrenders - Walter Russell Mead
President Obama is now exactly where we at The American Interest were afraid he would be when the whole Syria mess started: from the beginning it was crystal clear that all his choices were bad and we sympathized with his desire to do nothing—but we also warned that doing nothing was in fact the worst option of all. The longer he waited, the worse all of his options would get. In the end, procrastination would require him to take more action, and riskier action, than early intervention would have entailed, while both he and the country (not to mention the people of the region) would pay a high price for delay.
Sadly, those fears were justified. With his speech on September 10, President Obama acknowledged that the policy of delay has run its course, and he is now setting out to do what not only his critics but his own national security team have been begging for since 2011. The policy of evasion has failed; he is now back to engagement—military engagement—in both Syria and Iraq. The man who wanted to end America’s wars in the Middle East is now wading back in.