Although the American public strongly opposes any return of U.S. ground forces to the Middle East, little by little that is what’s happening. The U.S. troop count is over 3,500 in Iraq, special forces are being permanently stationed in Syria, and Jeb Bush says more “boots on the ground” need to be sent. However, past experience in Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq and elsewhere suggests this will not end well for Washington. First, sending troops will give ISIS convenient nearby targets to attack. Second, it will be easier for the terrorists to seize hostages with which to manipulate Western opinion. Third, a renewed American presence will take pressure off local forces to perform. Fourth, it will lead to America taking sides in civil wars. And fifth, U.S. troops will end up becoming an occupation force if locals can’t fill the vacuum that gave rise to ISIS in the first place. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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