Like the rest of the mainstream media in the United States, CBS News has covered extensively President Obama’s repeated pledge not to commit U.S. ground troops to the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Not only has Obama made that solemn and public pledge of “no boots on the ground”; he’s doubled and even tripled down on his commitment to provide only air support as well as training and expert guidance to military allies battling ISIS in the Middle East.
“…I want to be clear: the American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission,” Mr. Obama said during a short address to troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, where he was touring the Joint Operations Center at U.S. Central Command.
“As your commander in chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq.”
But now, the Commander in Chief has, for the first time, admitted he would do what many of his top military advisors have suggested might well be necessary — deploy U.S. ground troops to the war zone…but only if this one thing should happen: only if the Islamic State comes to possess a nuclear weapon.
And while some news outlets have mentioned Obama’s “new red line” for deploying combat forces, little has been made of what appears to be the president’s laying the ground work for another about-face on a vow he’s made to the American public.
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The news of Obama’s admission that boots on the ground might indeed be faintly on his radar has, for the most part, been off the main radar of the major U.S. media. It is featured prominently on the website rt.com:
“If we discovered that [Islamic State] had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then, yes,” Obama told reporters at a news conference in Brisbane, Australia, on Sunday. “I would order it.”
Obama’s opening the door to boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria has also been mentioned in a post at abcnews.com:
There is no indication that ISIS currently possesses or could easily obtain a nuclear weapon, officials say.
Still, Obama’s declaration of a nuclear weapon in the hands of ISIS is a noteworthy new “red line” – and a very high bar for a U.S. offensive role on the ground.
Recent polling has shown that — nukes or no nukes under ISIS control — Americans’ sentiment in support of sending U.S. combat forces to the Mideast hot zone has been moving toward the positive side.
A recent poll by CBS News shows:
Americans are now split on whether the U.S. should send ground troops into Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS. The percentage that favors ground troops (47 percent) has been inching up since September.
Most Republicans support using U.S. ground troops, while most Democrats, and half of independents, are opposed.
Still, most Americans do think ground forces will ultimately be necessary to remove the threat from ISIS.