'If Congress is for it, Americans are against it’: Many oppose Obama’s anti-ISIS plan'
RT:Washington's fight against ISIS has been increasing step-by-step; military advisors, warships in the Gulf States and finally authorized air strikes both in Syria and Iraq. How does that affect public opinion on extended military action?
Daniel Schechter: Right now the critique of the ISIS campaign in the papers compares it to the healthcare roll out. They are seeing that it is disorganized, they didn’t get all the allies lined up before they announced it, and it is embarrassing to the United States. It doesn’t show what we want it to show - which is total unity in this fight against barbarism. ISIS is being presented just in terms of its beheading. The beheadings that it carried out are totally uncivilized. That has been the way it has been organized in the US on a propaganda level. But the organization of it is still not fully in place.
RT:Obama reiterated that the US will not be putting“boots on the ground.”But how likely is he to backtrack on this pledge taken recent ISIS advances?
DS: I think the US wants other people to put boots on the ground - other allies from the Gulf States, possibly mercenary forces, contractors and others, special force units and the like. They don’t want a regular engagement of the US military because the US military was not successful. It was not perceived as being successful in Iraq. It was perceived as losing the war, not winning it. So to go to more ground troops - a formula that has failed - doesn’t look good for the Obama Administration. Also, the Republicans will not support it and many liberal Democrats will not support it. So he has to basically do this with one hand tied behind his back. That is to say: no troops. But obviously there will be fighting on the ground and dying.
RT:Lawmakers recently approved Obama's initiative to lend support to Syrian rebels. Does Congress’ approval makes increased military involvement more acceptable for the US public?
DS: The point is that all of this is being manipulated by the media, by the political parties. Nobody wants to be against fighting a group that beheads Americans. So everybody is for it on one level. But in terms what they are willing to do to fight these people, and why this is happening, the weakness was of American involvement both in Iraq and in Syria. That is never discussed. In other words, the notion at the United States is now going to support moderate forces in Syria. That has been our policy all in one, and it has been a failure. It doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.
So now the US is relying on friends to do some bombing, probably Britain to do some bombing, will it be British Special Forces, troops involved because the ISIS people attacked Prime Minister Cameron by name and the rest of it. But it doesn’t look like there is a lot of in enthusiasm for this. If you were to hold a march in New York, like the march on Sunday, the climate justice - saying “Let`s go to war against ISIS!” I don’t think anyone would show up. It is caught in the middle here. Obviously they are repulsed, disgusted by these images on YouTube. But this is a sort of a propaganda war and we will see what happens on the ground. Right now the forces on the ground seem to be overpoweringly ISIS forces, not Western forces.
RT:Do you think that recent videos of foreign nationals beheaded could make the Western public back a more extensive campaign again ISIS?
DS: The videos were used to get the Congress to support more spending on the war in Syria and in Iraq. That was its function that was its role, that is what it did and accomplished that. And then Congress went on recess. Because of the political races that were being fought. So they are not even in town, in Washington.
The Pentagon has many generals who want ground forces. Obama is under political pressure not to provide ground forces. So there are a lot of conflict and contradictions in this particular coalition. And it is coming together very slowly and it is not clear whether or not it can be effective. Bombing has a limited impact – we know that from Vietnam to Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Syria. Bombing can only do so much. And yet you need a motivated force to get involved. And so for that motivated force doesn’t seem to exist.
Recently the Kurds in Syria did rebuff ISIS forces there, because they are motivated. They don’t want them controlling their space. There are forces on the ground that are fighting ISIS and I`m sure there will be more. The question now being discussed in the UN is whether Iran will get involved with the US and that will require the US to make some concessions to Iran it doesn’t want to make. Apparently today [Secretary of State John] Kerry was having private meetings with the Iranians supposedly to talk about the nuclear issue. But really I think also to talk about ISIS. There is a lot that is not resolved right now and a lot that to get a lot worse very quickly.
RT:Authorizing air strikes on jihadist positions in Syria, Obama maintained he would seek a broader international coalition. Could that increase support for military action?
DS: You would think so. You would say: “Oh, the Congress approves it, so that must mean something!” But guess what, only 10% of the American people approve of the Congress. The Congress is at the lowest level of approval in its history. So the fact that Congress voted to do something doesn’t necessary mean the American public is for it. In fact a lot of the American public is against it: if the Congress is for it, they are against it! They don’t believe in the Congress: they believe it is corrupt, they don’t believe it is representative, they believe it is manipulated. So yes, formally, officially you have support from the Congress, you have support from the Pentagon, but unofficially there are still a lot of infighting between the political parties, between the left and the right, between the Pentagon and the White House. And none of that will get resolved any time soon.
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