August 9, 2014


The president’s expansion of the U.S. military mission in Iraq is conjuring up two dirty little words for anti-war Democrats: Mission creep.

Just two months ago, when Obama announced he was going to send up to 300 American troops to Iraq, he emphasized that they would only have an advisory, non-combat role.

On Friday, however, U.S. fighters bombed terrorist targets in northern Iraq. Hours before, the president has announced he was authorizing such strikes as well as the airdropping of aid to Iraqi refugees stranded on a mountaintop.

The White House has stressed that the two missions — the airstrikes and the airdrop — are narrow and discrete. But neither has an end-date, prompting concern from some Democrats and liberal anti-war groups.

“I oppose open-ended military commitments, which the president’s actions in Iraq could become,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I am deeply concerned that these actions could lead to prolonged direct military involvement, which I would strongly oppose,” he added.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), another senior Democrat on the committee, said he supported the president’s actions, but “as one of only 23 senators who opposed the war in Iraq, I do not believe this should be an extended campaign involving US ground troops.”

Reed is running for reelection this fall.

And Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the House’s most strident anti-war voice, said, “I support strictly humanitarian efforts to prevent genocide in Iraq.”

But, she added, “while the president has existing authority to protect American diplomatic personnel, I remain concerned about U.S. mission creep in Iraq and escalation into a larger conflict, which I oppose.”

Although administration officials are insisting that the missions would be limited, and there would be no boots on the ground, one senior administration official acknowledged Friday that strikes could extend outside of northern Iraq.

Related: Feinstein: ‘It takes an army to defeat an army.’ You know, we used to have an army in Iraq. And if we still did, it would still be stable.