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There appears to be a disconnect between the President and senior military leaders on the advisability of taking the option of American ground troops off the table in our battle against the Islamic State in the Levant (or ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. While most of our citizens would prefer that American airpower simply supplement local ground forces in battling ISIL, the President should be careful about publicly taking that option off the table.

President Clinton did a similar thing when starting the Kosovo air campaign in March of 1999. The bombing was supposed to take about five days before Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was expected to give in. It took 79. Many of the wartime atrocities that Serbs were later accused of, including accusations of systemic rape, happened after the bombing started. There were multiple reasons why the Serbs eventually capitulated (maybe most notably that their presumed backer, Russia, decided not to intervene on their behalf), one of those reasons is that NATO ground troops (at least from U.S. and Britain) were becoming a stronger possibility. It’s not certain that NATO ground troops were going to be used, the possibility had been placed back on the table. Don’t be surprised if something similar happens this time.

1TF

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