ISIS: Obama's opportunity
(see also: Isis: Obama's Peril)
If President Obama were able to summon his intestinal fortitude and act decisively against ISIS, he could emerge as hero and protector of American security. General John Allen (ret.), the man who led American troops in the spectacular success of Anbar Province in Iraq and therefore enjoys serious credibility, outlines how ISIS can be destroyed. Read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:
Weeks ago I called for this group to be attacked in the manner only the U.S. can undertake – suddenly, swiftly, surgically – to deal it a setback and to begin the systematic dismantlement of this scourge. (snip)
IS is a well-organized entity, almost certainly supported by former Saddamist regime elements whose hand can be seen in the campaign design now unfolding. This group is not a flash in the pan that will go away of its own accord or if we don’t poke at it. It is not benign. IS is reinforced by Sunni tribal elements from Syria and Iraq, and most alarmingly, is aided by a witch’s brew of foreign fighters from Chechens to Uighurs to Pashtuns, but also including Europeans and Americans. The Caliphate’s Western recruits will be felt in the European and American homelands for years to come regardless of the fate IS and its cause. (snip)
IS must be destroyed and we must move quickly to pressure its entire “nervous system,” break it up, and destroy its pieces. (snip)
The whole questionable debate on American war weariness aside, the U.S. military is not war weary and is fully capable of attacking and reducing IS throughout the depth of its holdings, and we should do it now, but supported substantially by our traditional allies and partners, especially by those in the region who have the most to give – and the most to lose – if the Islamic State’s march continues. It’s their fight as much as ours, for the effects of IS terror will certainly spread in the region with IS seeking soft spots for exploitation.
American and allied efforts must operate against IS from Mosul in the east across its entire depth to western Syria. In that regard, “sovereignty” in the context of its airspace and territory is not something we should grant President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Syria is a failed state neither capable of acting as a sovereign entity nor deserving the respect of one. We cannot leave IS a safe haven anywhere (snip)
The tentative successes of the Kurds in rolling back IS from the Mosul Dam should offer a clear signal that this formula of employing indigenous forces coupled with American and allied firepower can be undertaken with effect. Accelerating the refurbishment of the Iraqi security force through a focused advise and assist program can open fronts against IS to the north along the Tigris and west into Anbar Province and along the Euphrates River. To that end, Iraq and Syria’s Sunni tribes and the Free Syrian Resistance can also play a central role in dismantling IS. Many of the tribes are fighting now and many others, ready to fight IS, are begging for U.S. and international support. Their advisory and military support should be a high priority. The Kurds, the Sunnis and the Free Syrian resistance elements of the region are the “boots on the ground” necessary to the success of this campaign, and the attack onIS must comprehensively orchestrate these diverse forces across the entire region. We’ve done this before, but we must view this crisis regionally and cannot fall victim to segmented thinking, approaches and policies that leave any potential allies out of the game or give IS any safe havens or maneuver space.
Will President Obama seize the opportunity and act? Your guess is as good as mine. On the one hand, he clearly has sympathy with the Islamic world’s grievances against the West, and reluctance to employ more than drones. On the other, his presidency is in crisis and an election looms ahead.
Hat tip: Jared Peterson