By Sal Bommarito
The New York Times reported that President Obama has taken a major step in the ISIS crisis by enlisting the support of nine nations to join the U.S. in combating the terrorist organization. They include Britain, France, Australia, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark. Conspicuously missing were nations from the Middle East. As usual, they are playing it coy so as not to incite radical elements in their own country. Supposedly, the U.S. coalition is to receive “quiet intelligence” from Jordan, and Saudi Arabia is expected to “contribute to funding moderate Syrian groups.”
Mr. Obama described the ISIS mission in the following way: “You initially push them back, you systematically degrade their capabilities, you narrow their scope of action, you slowly shrink the space, the territory that they may control, you take out their leadership.” This reads like a college professor lecturing to a group of students. ISIS is not Nazi Germany; it is a band of nationless religious fanatics and thugs that are wreaking havoc in the deserts of Syria and Iraq.
The president has made it clear that the only boots on the ground will continue to be incompetent Iraq soldiers, poorly armed Kurds and moderate Syrian rebels all of whom have been getting their butts kicked for weeks. By the way, it is not clear how the allied force will distinguish moderate from radical rebels in war-torn Syria. And, the president would still like to see Assad eliminated as part of this whole process. Sounds confusing, doesn’t it?
This amalgamation of support is a step in the right direction, but it falls far short of what is needed to put ISIS to rest permanently. The terrorists are getting too much respect because no nation is willing to go all in with troops and heavy munitions. Obama only wants to wage war from 64,000 feet with smart bombs. So, unless he obliterates the entire countryside, a lot of terrorists are going to slip through the cracks and continue to menace the region for years to come.
The current actions being considered by those opposing ISIS will not be sufficient. After allowing ISIS to run rampant in Syria and Iraq, the terrorist force is growing with each military success, and stealing oil and selling it on the black market to bolster its resources. Moreover, Iraq Sunnis relish the opportunity to strike back against Iraq Shiites that are now oppressing them by supporting ISIS.
The cries for more action by the media, most Republicans and many Democrats seemed to have been falling on deaf ears at the White House. At least now Obama has taken a stand, but it is more political cover than anything else. The U.S., as always, will likely be providing most of the muscle in the form of bombing sorties, while “our allies” offer not much more than moral support and nonmilitary assistance. Telegraphing a “no boots on the ground” policy was a huge blunder. Even if each member of the coalition is anathema to the tactic, “boots” should be left on the table to cause concern at ISIS.
We all knew that a coalition was going to be just slightly more than superficial, and Obama would intellectualize a situation that calls for brute force (Read his statement appearing above once again if you have any doubts). But, the fact remains that the entire world is against ISIS, yet ISIS is getting stronger each day. Moreover, the threat of ISIS operatives blowing up targets in western nations and creating problems for Arab regimes is growing every day. And once again, the U.S. is going to pick up the lion share of costs relating to this endeavor.
The president is worrying too much about the feelings of other countries. The international community of nations wants ISIS destroyed. Antagonists in the region, specifically Iran and Saudi Arabia, are concerned about the destabilization of their regimes and will both support a U.S. attack against ISIS, or at least turn a blind eye. The Europeans are frightened by terrorist threats. And, Russia could care less about ISIS as they are still trying to figure out a way to re-annex Ukraine back into Russia. The U.S. has a clear path to deal with ISIS. Brute force and a desire to kill every ISIS fighter should be our objective. No other nations will stand in our way or even complain as we carry out this mission.
But, if we let the terrorists off the hook by not committing to the destruction of ISIS, the consequences could be grave. If the U.S. initiates an endless barrage of carpet-bombing and missile strikes, this conflict will be over in a short period of time. The ISIS survivors will be running for the hills to save themselves, just like the Revolutionary Guard that Saddam Hussein was once so proud of.