- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2014

President Obama drew a red line on military ground engagement against the Islamic State, saying he would indeed send in U.S. troops to fight if the terror group were to obtain nuclear weapons.

His point-of-no-return approach is reminiscent of a similar red line he drew against Syrian President Bashar Assad months ago. Then, Mr. Obama warned of escalating U.S. involvement in that nation’s civil war if reports of Mr. Assad using chemical weapons on his own people proved to be true.

As evidence mounted, Mr. Obama backed off, and it was ultimately Russia President Vladimir Putin who swooped in and closed a deal with Mr. Assad to destroy the government’s chemical weapons cache — the same chemical weapons cache that the Syrian leader denied existed.

Now, to a news conference crowd in Australia, Mr. Obama said he would personally give the order for a U.S. ground troop operation in Iraq and Syria if it was learned that the Islamic State held nuclear weapons, the Daily Mail reported.

“There are always circumstances in which the United States might need to deploy U.S. ground troops,” he said, the Daily Mail reported. “If we discover that ISIL had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then yes, you can anticipate that not only would Chairman [Martin] Dempsey recommend me sending U.S. ground troops to get that weapon out of their hands, but I would order it.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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