Maddow criticizes Obama: Pilots fighting against ISIS ‘are on combat missions already’
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow challenged President Barack Obama’s “rhetorical distinction” on Wednesday between his proposed action against the extremist group Islamic State (ISIS) and an actual war.
“I have to take issue with him in saying this is not going to be combat,” Maddow told colleagues Richard Engel and Lawrence O’Donnell. “As far as I’m concerned, once we’ve got pilots in the air dropping bombs over forces that have anti-aircraft artillery on the ground, those pilots are on combat missions already.”
Obama said earlier in the evening that, while the U.S. “will not get dragged into another ground war” in Iraq and Syria, that American troops would conduct air strikes while working with the Iraqi government and its “coalition of partners” to take ISIS down.
But, Maddow said, the 1,500 troops that would eventually be part of the operation would be in hostile territory acting against an enemy that will want to kill them, putting them “very close to combat.” She also questioned whether the mission can be seen as something U.S. residents should not consider a “war-sized commitment.”
“It’s very hard to say, I think, until we start doing it,” Maddow said. “But for me, that distinction seems very thin.”
Engel said that, aside from the airstrikes, Obama’s strategy seemed “fuzzy,” arguing that the U.S. lacked partners within the region.
“In Syria, there aren’t any local partners, there are fictitious partners that he’s talking about” he told O’Donnell. “In Iraq, below where I am right now, there’s the Iraqi army which has disintegrated and is not an effective partner right now. So aside from the very specific idea of sending in special operators, carrying out some drones, the rest of the strategy seemed quite unclear.”
Watch the discussion, as aired on MSNBC, below.