As I prepared last night to go to air on CNN with the information that the U.S. along with a coalition of the willing had begun air strikes on ISIS, the Islamic State in Syria, it reminded me of 2003 and the beginning of the Iraq war.
That war also started with air strikes on Saddam Hussein’s Presidential Palace in Baghdad.
Last night, one of my first questions to the military experts was are we really at war again?
That was Lt. General Mark Hertling who was an army commander in Iraq from 2007-2009 during the surge.
General Hertling says although the President is saying no boots on the ground, the number of men and women who are taking part, and the number of military assets being used, should not be underestimated.
NBC News is reporting that the “U.S. military is deploying manned and unmanned air assets, including F-22s, B-1 bombers, F-16s, F-15s and F/A-18s. The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush is at the ready in the Persian Gulf, and the USS Arleigh Burke, a guided missile destroyer that fires Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs), is in the Red Sea.
That’s a lot of equipment which takes a lot of people to operate.
Some of it is done by remote, some of it by air, some by sea and quite frankly some of it is done on the ground.
So, with that said, this is not the first time America or an American president have been here, in a conflict that no one wanted to call a war.
On June 29, 1950 President Harry Truman was asked this by a reporter:
Mr. President, everybody is asking in this country, are we or are we not at war?
THE PRESIDENT. We are not at war.
Mr. President, another question that is being asked is, are we going to use ground troops in Korea?
THE PRESIDENT. No comment on that.
Mr. President, in that connection it has been asked whether there might be any possibility of having to use the atomic bomb?
THE PRESIDENT. No comment.
The transcript goes on to say:
Mr. President, would it be correct, against your explanation, to call this a police action under the United Nations?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. That is exactly what it amounts to.
Harry Truman’s “police action,” carried out with the support of the United Nations, eventually became known at first as “The Undeclared War” and then later as The Korean War.
That was then, 1950.
This is now.
I will take this president, Barack Obama, at his own word that we are not at war and that these are as he phrases it, “Military” and “Humanitarian” operations.
But even in my optimism I will keep in mind that sometimes history has a strange way of repeating itself.