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America has only one commander-in-chief at a time. We lost credibility in the Middle East due to the calculated decisions of Mr. Obama to abandon Mubarak, bomb and then ignore Libya, antagonize Israel, threaten and then back down in Syria, walk away from and then return to Iraq, negotiate flaccidly with Iran, and promise to pull our small residual force out of Afghanistan by the end of his presidency. Mr. Obama has now set the military goal of destroying the Islamists who hold half of Iraq and Syria. Accomplishing that would certainly restore confidence in U.S. power.
However, that objective cannot be achieved without American boots on the ground that he ruled out. You cannot systematically drive back a ground army without eyes on targets, as happened in late 2001 when our Special Forces teams directed B-52s to smash the Taliban/al-Qaeda and followed up with tribal warlords to seize the territory. The Sunni tribes would do likewise, if our teams provided overwhelming firepower to inject confidence. In addition, raids by American battalions would be required.
Mr. Obama has no intentions of “rebooting.” He set a military objective and then applied restrictions that make it highly improbable if not impossible. The odds are he will serve out his time and bequeath to his successor a geopolitical mess.