By Sal Bommarito
Are Americans unduly concerned about the ISIS war? Many would say yes, including mainstream media. The proof is their coverage of ISIS, which has dropped off considerably in the past few weeks. Others of us believe the current imbroglio is only the beginning of a long drawn out odyssey.
Like Vietnam, Americans are becoming inured to problems in far off places, especially when they never come face to face with the enemy. In the 60s and 70s, most adults lived their lives and ignored the fighting and casualties. Fortunately, students and other young people recognized that the U.S. was fighting an unjust war.
So it is with ISIS. In fact, our president has vetoed any use of ground forces, although there are a few thousand G.I. advisers on site. This edict effectively mitigates the possibility of significant U.S. casualties. It is unlikely our service people will be killed or wounded if they are dropping bombs from thousands of feet overhead.
All this is fine if you are indifferent about the U.S. playing the key role in a war that may continue in perpetuity. The U.S. is not going to win the war with ISIS unless somebody provides foot soldiers. So, the end of this conflict for the U.S. will occur when our government becomes tired and frustrated with bombing.
But, you already know this. The U.S. is going to avoid collateral damage at all costs. So, all the enemy has to do is hide in populated areas and wait for our leaders to give up the cause.
But, so what? ISIS cannot hurt America or Americans, right? Maybe yes, maybe no. Let’s assume ISIS wins, which presumably would result in the formation of a new ultra-radical theocracy in the general area of Syria an Iraq. The new government would likely be ruled by the military; it’s doubtful there are trained politicians and diplomats in the ISIS community. So violent religious extremists, who are driven by a desire to kill Shiites, Christians and non-Arabs, will dominate the country.
Still, how could the fledgling nation be a risk to the U.S.? Just think back a few years. Who would have thought that Afghanistan would indirectly inflict great damage on America? The Afghan government enabled Al Qaeda to train its terrorists and 9/11 happened. Religious fanatics will not sit quietly and allow sworn enemies to live in peace.
What could ISIS do to harm the U.S. or its allies? For one thing, it could train individuals to attack western interests, including our cities, airplanes, tourists, ships, oil fields, embassies, etc. ISIS could attempt a major terrorist attack after the current fighting ends. It might work with other Sunni fanatics to disenfranchise ethnic and religious groups in the region. It could make the Middle East an uninhabitable place by continuing to threaten all who reside there.
And then there is the oil. True, the U.S. is becoming energy independent. But, independence does not mean that serious disruptions in the flow of oil out of the Middle East will not affect our economy and our trading partners around the world.
The aforementioned is a bridge to the final item that needs to be considered. Will ISIS continue to attack others in the region? Is Iran at risk? Keep in mind that ISIS is comprised of radical Sunnis, and Iran radical Shiites. The potential for a much greater confrontation is brewing at this time. And, will the U.S. allow ISIS to destabilize Saudi Arabia? Probably not. At some point, the U.S. is going to be fighting an old fashioned war in the Middle East with soldiers on the ground. The alternative will result in a radically redrawn Middle East map.