By Sal Bommarito
The Republican landslide in the 2014 elections will likely reopen the debate about the U.S. mission in Iraq and Syria. The current objective is to degrade and destroy ISIS.
There is no evidence that the coalition forces are making significant progress towards this endgame. In fact, ISIS is becoming more powerful as recruits pore in, and stolen oil is sold to finance operations. Further, the atrocities committed by these savages remain unchecked. Reports are flowing in telling of mass executions throughout the widespread ISIS territories.
Yet, the U.S. strategy continues unchanged while the White House and the Pentagon say things are moving along satisfactorily. Perhaps, the generals who are covering for the president will be more forthcoming when Senator John McCain (R-AZ) becomes chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and asks them under oath whether they believe the current tactics will assure victory.
The Guardian published a scathing article which indicates that the “Pentagon denies U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS is unraveling.” A Pentagon spokesman said, “I don’t believe that we view current events a major setback to the goals that we’ve set with respect to training and equipping the moderate opposition [in Syria].” The comment was made after an Al Qaeda faction routed a Syrian resistance group that was supposed to “anchor” an anti-ISIS proxy force.
The plan is to train 5,000 fighters in Syria, which is supposed to take one year, “against an ISIS force that may command as many as 31,000.” The arithmetic looks very bad for the ground forces that are expected to supplement U.S. bombing efforts.
“ . . . the administration is signaling a counter offensive to oust ISIS from Iraq, led by the Iraqis and backed by U.S. airpower and Iranian Shia militia . . .” The force will not be ready until 2015. This strategy aligns the U.S. with Iran. Many are wondering what the price of this support will be. Might it include a green light for Iran to continue its nuclear program?
Michael Eisenstadt of the Institute for Near East Policy wrote that the U.S. should “’define down success,’ as a marginalized ISIS that can no longer conquer or hold territory.” Even this would be a tall order considering the strength of the enemy at this time.
The problem for the Obama administration is that it embroiled us in a war with ISIS without committing to doing what is necessary to win. Every American hates the idea of sending ground troops to the rat holes known as Iraq and Syria. But if defeating ISIS is an important element of securing our homeland and/or providing national security, ground troops will be deployed sooner or later. It’s too bad the administration did not consider this before initiating a relatively ineffective bombing campaign.