With the expansion of air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, into Syria in September, President Barack Obama exposed himself to a new round of criticism from armchair commanders at home and abroad. It is time for the Obama administration to clarify the Syria component of its strategy to combat ISIS.
The criticisms have come from all angles. Serious concerns came from the left that the administration would careen down a slippery slope into a war for regime change, trapping the United States in another quagmire in the region. From the right, critics panned the limited nature of the strikes as too little too late. Some conservatives, such as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), called for U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS in Iraq and for an expansion of the war to directly target the Assad regime in Syria. Meanwhile, the international community is all over the map, with major players such as Iran and Russia nervous about any U.S.-backed move against Assad, while Gulf allies and Turkey remain frustrated by a lack of action against him.
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