Home Politics Opinion: Sending troops to Syria could mean more escalation to come

Opinion: Sending troops to Syria could mean more escalation to come

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In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent 342 officers and men to “train and organize the South Vietnamese Army to repel an invasion from the North.” These numbers rose to 700 by 1960; by 1968, the U.S. military presence in South Vietnam was over 536,000. As these numbers rose, so did the deaths of American service men and women, ultimately rising to over 58,000 losses.

Last Friday, President Obama sanctioned the deployment of around 50 troops to help fight ISIL in North Syria. Similar to the start of the Vietnam War, he said in a recent interview with NBC Nightly News that the U.S. “is not putting our men on the front lines in Syria.”

“We are there to build the capacity of local forces,” White House spokesman John Earnest said in a press conference Friday. “The mission is to train, advise and assist.”

However, the Vietnam War was one example of military operations that did not go as planned and put American soldiers in harm’s way.

Obama has repeatedly told Americans that there will be no boots on the ground in Syria. Out of the 16 times he has said this since 2013, two were this year. Most current was at a speech at  the Pentagon after a question was asked about sending troops overseas.

“It is not enough for us to simply send in American troops to temporarily set back organizations like ISIL,” he said.

Now, less than four months since Obama’s speech, U.S. troops will be fighting on Syrian soil. Special operations has been targeting the enemy with airstrikes for over a year. According to The New York Times, the escalation came after Russia began to be heavily involved in the Middle East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Obama have not always seen eye-to-eye on issues pertaining to ISIL. Obama’s new troop deployment may support the agreement made last Friday in Vienna by Secretary of State John Kerry for a ceasefire in Syria. The prospect of the United States’ military power being fully engaged may force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resume talks of peace with moderate rebels. So ultimately, the U.S. is sending 50 military troops to the area to foster peace… perhaps.

The contradiction shows just how difficult being president must be. Choosing to place American troops in the midst of a civil war must be a heart-wrenching decision. Just last week, a member of the U.S. military was killed in combat in Iraq, the first since 2011. Now, with new troops entering the area, it may not be our last casket draped with the American flag to return to the U.S.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Some information in the article about the history of the Vietnam War has been changed, including President Eisenhower being the president in 1955 and the highest American troop involvement being over 536,000 in 1968.

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