Might Obama send ground troops to Iraq? It depends on the meaning of "ground". Also, "troops" and "combat". Check out this groan-out-loud trial balloon from deputy national security Rhodes:
U.S. Could Use Ground Troops to Aid Rescue of Iraq Refugees
EDGARTOWN, Mass. — A senior White House official said on Wednesday that the United States would consider using American ground troops to assist Iraqis in rescuing Yazidi refugees if recommended by military advisers assessing the situation.
Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Martha’s Vineyard that President Obama would probably receive recommendations in the next several days about how to mount a rescue operation to help the refugees, who are stranded on a mountaintop surrounded by Sunni militants. He said those recommendations could include the use of American ground troops.
Number one, I’ve been very clear that we’re not going to have U.S. combat troops in Iraq again.
But hey hey! No one else takes his red lines seriously, so why should Obama or his advisers? Let's get back to the spin du jour from Mr. Rhodes:
But he drew a distinction between the use of American forces to help a humanitarian mission and the use of troops in the battle against militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, something he said the president had rejected before and continued to oppose.
“What he’s ruled out is reintroducing U.S. forces into combat on the ground in Iraq,” Mr. Rhodes said. He added, using an alternative name for the militant group, that the deployment of ground troops to assist a rescue was “different than reintroducing U.S. forces in a combat role to take the fight to ISIL.”
He acknowledged that any ground troops in Iraq would face dangers, even if they were there to help the refugees find a safe way off the mountain. He said that like American forces anywhere, the troops would have the ability to defend themselves if they came under fire.
That is my idea of a Commander-in-Chief! Put some soldiers on a mountain top surrounded by crazed jihadists who behead their adversaries and tell them that while, yes, there is some danger, this is not a combat mission. But they are allowed to shoot back anyway!
Whatever. My Possibly Prescient Prediction is that after outraged screams from the left (and also from the right, but at frequencies Obama cannot hear) Obama will announce that, having responsibly considered all options he is rejecting the use of ground troops for now. Whew! As to whether advisers and observers are "combat troops", well, he can hash that out with Elizabeth Warren.
SINCE YOU ASK: Back in the early days of the Good War US Special Forces embedded with the Northern Alliance to coordinate air strikes against the Taliban. I would think that US Special Forces could team up with the Kurdish peshmerga today, since they seem to be willing and able to fight. But not only does that break the "no ground troops" pledge, it might seem to put the US even more directly behind the Kurdish push for autonomy. I'm sure Barack and Johnny Nuance have this buttoned down.