No boots on the ground?
That kinda chiz is mantra as policy, not a strategy.
And that mantra features three key strategic audiences: domestic, international and enemy.
Domestically, the mantra appears to reflect America’s tiredness of war. This tiredness, however, could be more a reflection of not wanting to use lives and funds to no end. America generally supports wars seen as “righteous” (waged for the right reasons) and progressing in pursuit of achievable aims (waged well). The righteousness of the war in Afghanistan and against al Qaeda is not in question, but in the eyes of many Americans, the war in Iraq was. How well each of these three wars has been and is being waged, however, is a reasonable question.
Americans do not support wars whose aims are unachievable or wars that do not progress toward even reasonable aims. With respect to waging the post-9/11 wars, our performance is certainly mixed. If the U.S. could articulate a strategy that had a reasonable chance of success in ending these wars in ways that are favorable to U.S. security interests, perhaps Americans would not accept this mantra as a reflection of their will. Current polling does not make this nuanced distinction.
Internationally, the mantra sends a mixed message. On the one hand, it signals allies, friends and other partners of the need to step up their willingness to act and their security force capacity.
On the other hand, the signal is “we’re out.” The former is a necessary message; the latter is an abrogation of leadership responsibility. Even if the latter signal is more mildly stated as “we could be in but only to a limited degree,” it is a signal of weak leadership at a time when the world needs strong leadership.
The balance is a delicate one to be sure. Great Satan cannot be the world’s policeman, nor should it be. Timid leadership, however, puts American interests at risk in a global security environment.
Global trends have been unraveling these post-World War II arrangements since at least 1989. The current international security threat posed by a non-nation-state, al Qaeda and its ilk, is a poster child for multiple aspects of this unraveling. America must be a leader in reversing this trend and helping put in place structures that make sense for the new world in which we live. Such leadership cannot be from behind, nor can it be remote.
The international community hears “no boots on the ground” as timid leadership, and our enemies hear the mantra as an opportunity to advance their agenda.
Simply put, the mantra cedes initiative to our enemies.
Once our enemies know that Great Satan has limited its options to technical intelligence gathering, airpower, special operations forces and perhaps advisors (but only under conditions of limited risk), they can advance their political agenda by conducting their operations in ways that hide from most technical intelligence-gathering capability, limit the utility of airpower, and negate or reduce the capacities of special operations forces.Pic - "We should not tolerate the existence of a terrorist state similar to Taleban-era Afghanistan sprawling across Iraq and Syria."
This provides our enemies with a significant operational freedom, a freedom that they have taken advantage of.