By Sal Bommarito
The United States bears a great deal of responsibility for the emergence of ISIS and affiliated terrorist groups. George Bush authorized the invasion of Iraq, which in retrospect was a terrible choice that fueled insurgency and terrorism. Similarly, Barack Obama’s decision to withdrawn troops from Iraq proved to be disastrous and beneficial to ISIS.
In the past, when America defeated an adversary, it assisted them in their reconstruction. Granted, Muslims throughout the Middle East have not been enthusiastic about American nation building, and often, Arab leaders have indicted that the U.S. should not occupy any states in the region. But shouldn’t the U.S. lead a restoration of the region? If not, who else will assume this dangerous and costly enterprise?
A perfect storm has overwhelmed the Middle East. ISIS has been able to prosper and feed upon discontent because the U.S. and Arab nations have not aggressively confronted it. Some how, some way ISIS has absconded huge tracts of land that straddle Iraq and Syria. Additionally, it has stolen oil and antiquities and sold them to finance its military operations. And, ISIS has successfully recruited disenfranchised individuals from around the world that are now fighting against the U.S. coalition. All this has been accomplished in spite of despicable ISIS tactics that include genocide perpetrated against Shiites, Christians and other groups.
The question that hangs over many Americans is whether the U.S. has a moral obligation to deal with ISIS more directly and put our brave soldiers harm’s way. This burden is based upon two considerations. One, should the U.S. take a major role in rebuilding Iraq because it contributed to its demise? Two, has ISIS become a significant threat to world peace to warrant an escalation of U.S. involvement? In other words, has ISIS risen to the status of Nazi Germany or imperialistic Japan? Keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis and Syrians have been slaughtered and five or six million people are now in mortal danger.
The U.S currently is engaged in a feeble effort to apply airpower to stem the tide of ISIS. This strategy, which dramatically decreases the risk of American casualties, has not been productive. For the most part, the enemy has embedded itself in populated places, so the chances of collateral damage are great.
Ground troops are needed to root out the insurgents and direct bombing attacks. Reliance on Iraqi forces to serve in these roles has not worked out favorably. According to Ashton Carter, the Defense Secretary, the Iraqis don’t have the will to fight. Further, the involvement of Shiite militia affiliated with Iran has been vetoed by the Obama administration. And finally, Shiite fighters attacking ISIS in Sunni territory have fueled sectarian resentment. Peace between these two sects is a prerequisite to peace in the region, but it is light years from becoming a reality.
The U.S. is the only party that can turn the tide of the ISIS war.