Obama’s Nuclear Deal With Iran Will Destabilize The Middle East

By Sal Bommarito

The furor about an impending Iran nuclear deal continues to grow. President Obama is lobbying Americans to gain their support for his “outline.” He even summoned one of his primary apologists, Tom Friedman of the New York Times, to the White House for a chat about the deal. He wrote a follow-up article after his meeting with the president. Click here to get Friedman’s take on the controversy.

There are many things about the negotiations with Iran that are suspicious and should cause any experienced negotiator to be skeptical. One is related to the negotiating strategy of the U.S. From my vantage point, the U.S. has most of the bargaining chips, yet it appears that American negotiators have been too quick to capitulate to Iranian demands. One could reasonably ask whether this is about American security or Obama’s legacy.

A most important factor should be the state of Iran’s economy. It is in free fall because of United Nations and U.S. sanctions coupled with a significant decline in oil prices. Waiting or stalling would increase the pressure on Iran as its citizens experience the sting of economic turmoil.

When one party in a negotiation has such a powerful advantage, he must capitalize on it. Instead, the U.S. indicated it would end sanctions relating to the nuclear issue, which would increase Iran’s revenues. With more cash flow, it will surely accelerate its nuclear program and supplement its reign of terror in the Middle East. Perhaps, the president should look back at Ronald Reagan’s dealings with the Soviet Union. He successfully implemented a strategy that virtually bankrupted Russian thereby ending the Cold War.

The negotiations have been one-sided. Iran gets to keep its nuclear infrastructure and too much enriched uranium, which will enable it to produce a weapon in ten years, or earlier if Iran violates the terms of a treaty. The U.S. receives a “theoretical” delay of one year in the ability of Iran to build a nuclear weapon. [I wonder how the hell that calculation was made.] Additionally, Iran is supposedly giving inspectors unfettered access to its nuclear operations to ensure compliance to a treaty. We all know hour cooperative Iran has been over the years in this regard.

The U.S. has important allies in the Middle East that have been disappointed too often. The Iran deal has made the group even more reticent about the Obama administration. A nuclear deal with our most despised enemy in the region is being negotiated as our friends, such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and the Gulf States object.

It is doubtful that a treaty will stop Iran from moving forward with a plan to build a nuclear weapon. So, other Middle East countries will surely insist on a similar right to initiate a nuclear program. The Iran deal will be the impetus for a regional arms race, a phenomenon that will make the area that much more unstable.

Some facts about Iran are indisputable. It hates America. In fact, its ayatollahs are regularly leading chants of “Death to America.” Iran similarly despises Sunnis and non-Muslims, as compared to ISIS, which abhors Shiites, non-Muslims and non-Arabs. Iran continually supports terrorist groups that have destabilized Sunni regimes. Yemen is the latest insurgency sponsored by Iran. Israel insists that a nuclear Iran is an existential threat to its survival. There should be no doubt about this given that Iranian leaders have said they want to obliterate the State of Israel. And so the big questions are why would the U.S. engage our mortal enemy, and for a nuclear weapon, no less? And, what does Obama expect to gain from this adventure?

And then, there is the critical issue of Iran’s compliance with the terms of the treaty. Most people are not comforted by Obama’s assurances that the U.S. can or will stop Iran anytime in the future from building a nuclear weapon. He said the U.S. spends $600 billion on defense each year while Iran spends only $30 billion. So, why should Americans or Sunni Arabs worry?

This bluster is meaningless unless Iran is convinced that the U.S. will actually enforce the treaty. Previous “lines in the sand” drawn by Obama have been empty threats (consider Syria). It is highly unlikely that Obama will dispatch bombers to Iran if it violates the treaty. Once Iran has a nuke, it will be too late and the region will be permanently destabilized.

Unlike many other situations, the U.S. has options. A better tactic would be to stall and allow financial events to destroy the Iranian economy. Another is for Obama to caucus with Congress to test his decisions before signing a treaty. I, for one, would feel much safer if Congress endorses his plan given its current level of skepticism. I do not believe the president should take such an important step without more eyes on the deal. After all, it’s a nuclear weapon we are talking about.

Put Yourself In Bibi’s Shoes

By Sal Bommarito

It’s not easy being Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu these days. As leader of Israel, Bibi must deal with never-ending external and internal threats. His country has been criticized by virtually every nation as it strives to survive in one of the most dangerous regions in the world.

Specifically, the following external issues dog Netanyahu every day: Palestine, Iran nuclear negotiations, Israel’s relationship with America and terrorism.

Palestine: Is Palestine politically and economically ready to be an independent state? Interested parties have been debating this question since 1988. As of 2014, 135 of 193 United Nations members recognized the State of Palestine. During his recent election, Netanyahu indicated that he was against a “two-state” solution, an obvious campaign ploy (it worked, he won). Subsequently, the prime minister clarified his comment by saying that there could be no two-state arrangement “at this time.”

Over the years, Israel has negotiated with some very difficult Palestinian opponents. On several occasions, peace and agreement were at hand, only to be dashed by one side or the other. The division of land, the connection of the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, economic considerations, terrorism and the right of Israel to exist are among the primary areas of dispute. American presidents have unsuccessfully tried to mediate a deal during the past four decades.

Israel has done its share to add to the chaos and inability to make peace. Most recently, it, for security reasons, built new settlements on land that the Palestinians believe belongs to them. President Obama has asked, and then demanded, that Netanyahu put a stop to this activity, to no avail.

Arabs frequently accuse Israel of crimes against humanity, especially when it retaliates against terrorist attacks by Hamas and other groups. The Palestinian’s plight is one of the most contentious issues in the Middle East for all Arab nations.

Iran’s nuclear negotiations: Bibi has claimed that a nuclear Iran is an existential threat to Israel. He has been relentless in expressing all the reasons why the U.S. should not cave into Iranian demands. His rationale includes a belief that Iran will not be a responsible possessor of a nuke, and it will violate the provisions of any treaty that limits its ability to build a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu spoke before the U.S. Congress lobbying for discretion and oversight of any deal that President Obama signs. There were many sympathetic ears in the crowd. Last week, Iran and the U.S. agreed to an “outline” of a treaty. It is not clear what bipartisan actions Congress may take prospectively, or whether it will wait until a draft agreement is signed.

Israel’s relationship with the U.S.: The Netanyahu speech created a serious rift with the Obama administration; Obama did not endorse Bibi’s appearance. Obama Is disgusted with the prime minister’s endless carping, but Netanyahu is fighting for his country’s survival.

The implications of enthusiastic U.S. support are epic. Frankly, without military support, Israel could not survive. In fact, the demographics (in particular, birth rates of Israelis versus Palestinians) put Israel at a serious disadvantage over time. And, decreased financial support from American Jews could be a deathblow to Israel; young Jews are not as generous politically or economically than the previous generations.

Terrorism: Israel is continually under the gun, so to speak. Its citizens are always in peril from threats that have become more emboldened over time. The Jewish state is the only issue that unites Shiite and Sunni Arabs. Over the years, every Middle Eastern leader has attributed domestic and external problems to Israel, even if it had no role.

Yes, Bibi has a difficult job. I often wonder why so many nations around the world are supportive of Palestine over Israel when it is clear that the latter is more of a counter-puncher than an aggressor. Retaliation against terrorist attacks is too often labeled a crime.

Perhaps, Israel’s reputation is tarnished by its affiliation with the U.S. Sometimes, it is difficult to determine who Arabs despise more, America or Israel.

Obama Is Falling Into Iran’s Nuclear Trap

By Sal Bommarito

Liberals are scrambling to justify U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran. Thankfully, these entreaties are falling on many deaf ears. Nicholas Kristof, in his New York Times op-ed, is the latest to make a case for a deal with Iran.

The most important assumptions being made by Obama apologists are the following:

  • Iran will develop a nuclear bomb whether the U.S. supports a treaty or not.
  • Iran would be a responsible possessor of a nuclear weapon.
  • Iran will never employ a nuclear weapon because the U.S. and/or Israel will retaliate.
  • Iran will not cheat or violate provisions of a new treaty.
  • Iran will allow unfettered inspections of its nuclear operations.
  • Iran will become a more productive participant in the international community of nations if it owns a nuke.
  • Iran’s leaders are not radical Islamists determined to kill non-believers.
  • Sanctions and low oil prices will not have a long-term impact on Iran.

Iran has been working on a nuclear bomb for many years. Israel would probably be the first to know if Iran had achieved its objective, so it is likely that Iran is some distance from producing a DELIVERABLE weapon. Sanctions and dramatically lower oil revenues could hamper production of a bomb for a long time especially if the country is destabilized by economic turmoil.

How could any sensible person conclude that Iran will be responsible if it possessed a nuclear weapon? Iran is the greatest purveyor of terrorism in the Middle East and has worked diligently to topple Sunni states. It would use a nuke to bully other Arab countries. Moreover, Iran’s ownership of a bomb would cause an arms race in the region that includes Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The Middle East will become even more perilous if this occurs.

Iran has violated United Nations mandates for years. It will surely continue to cheat after signing a new treaty.

Numerous people have indicated that a nuclear weapon would make Iran a more constructive “global citizen” (Kristof reiterated this point). I don’t understand how ownership of a nuclear device that could possibly set off a world war and kill hundreds of thousands of people will improve the behavior of a rogue nation.

Iran has stated on numerous occasions that it detests all people except Shiite Arabs. That means it plans to kill non-believers whenever possible.

It’s been written and said many times that President Obama thirsts for an epic diplomatic achievement, a legacy issue. For this reason, he is prepared to make too many concessions. When all the details of the Iran treaty are revealed, I expect Congress, Democrats and Republicans, along with average Americans to be horrified with the proposed deal.

It’s Iran Versus Saudi Arabia Versus ISIS Versus The U.S.

By Sal Bommarito

Sectarian violence and threats resulting from the ISIS conflict and other events in the Middle East are starting to occur on a daily basis. Led by Saudi Arabia, Sunnis are responding to a number of Iranian provocations in the region. Most experts believe this is the beginning of a long drawn-out confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. A New York Times article details these matters.

Stirring Sunni outrage towards Iran are the following significant actions:

  • Iran’s backing of a rebel faction in Yemen. The Saudis are leading airstrikes against the insurgents.
  • Iran’s support of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. The Saudis are aiding jihadists in Syria that are fighting government forces.
  • Iran’s support of Iraqi forces against ISIS. The Saudis have warned Washington “not to allow the Iranian-backed militia to capture too much of Iraq [in the fight with ISIS].
  • The U.S./Iran pending nuclear deal. Saudis have indicated that they want the same rights as Iran to either develop or buy nuclear weapons. The aforementioned deal could lead to significant nuclear proliferation in the area.
  • Iran’s efforts to control the Middle East. The Saudis are backing a “combined Arab military force to combat Iranian influence around the region.”

The ISIS conflict has reached a critical point. The question is, can Iraq successfully win back territory absconded by the insurgents? For a moment in time, Iraqi government troops backed by Iran seemed to be making progress against a much smaller group of ISIS fighters embedded in Tikrit. This battle is a precursor to a much more important assault that is planned for later in the year on Mosul, the Islamic State’s capital.

The Tikrit operation has stalled, and Iraq has asked the U.S. to begin bombing in the area. President Obama agreed to do so only if Iran and Shiite militia groups loyal to Iran disengage. The competition between the U.S. and Iran is unproductive, as both want to destroy ISIS. Unfortunately, both nations hope to influence Iraq prospectively.

Further complicating the situation in Iraq is that most of the ISIS fighting is taking place in Sunni populated areas, and government forces consist mostly of Shiites. This was alluded to earlier in this post. Sunnis inside and outside of Iraq are concerned that the status of Iraqi Sunnis will be diminished even further in post-ISIS Iraq. Also, concern for collateral damage may not be adequate. The Saudis and other Sunni nations are likely to come to the aid of Iraqi Sunnis, if controlling Shiites marginalize the group. This, of course, will ultimately lead to civil war.

Most disturbing is the role of the U.S. By taking a subordinate or apathetic position on the issues herein, the Obama administration is losing credibility with all interested parties. The Iraqis resent the benign response of America to its problems, and other Arab nations cannot determine whom the U.S. is backing in the long-term, especially relating to the Iran nuclear deal.

The Middle East After ISIS Is Defeated

By Sal Bommarito

The Middle East’s political landscape is becoming a bit clearer every day. Unfortunately, the future is bleak for the region.

The backseat role of the U.S relating to current affairs leaves the destiny of the Middle East in the hands of current Arab leaders. This assumes a political status quo on the heels of the Arab Spring, the ultimate dissipation of ISIS and continuing insurgency by both Shiite and Sunni factions.

The apparent victory of Bibi Netanyahu foretells an uncomfortable stagnation of peace plan efforts dealing with the plight the Palestinians. Netanyahu said there would be no two-state deal for Palestine. This promise effectively guarantees the flow of venom between Arabs and the State of Israel for the foreseeable future.

The most important issue is what might transpire in the final days of ISIS. Frankly, the unorganized and murderous group of rebels deserves credit for surviving as long as it has. The tepid response of the U.S. and countries in the region enabled ISIS to thrive. But, the insurgents do not have the firepower to expand beyond Sunni neighborhoods in Iraq and Syria.

Stepping across borders into Turkey, Iran or Jordan will be a fruitless exercise. ISIS will be fortunate to retain the land it has already absconded. Nevertheless, it will not be a cakewalk to unearth ISIS in places that it has embedded itself. Current offensives by Iraq in places like Tikrit prove that a coordinated ground force initiative can be effective against the insurgents.

However, the final pushes into cities with large civilian populations will be bloody, for ISIS in any case, but also for innocent bystanders. The question is whether Iraq with encouragement from Iran will destroy cities held by ISIS with rockets that Iran has already provided to Iraq. Leveling cities populated by Sunnis will not endear Iraq to Sunni Arabs and could cause a great sectarian backlash.

There are several givens from my perspective. ISIS will likely be defeated in Iraq and Syria. But, its influence over disenfranchised rebel groups around the world could be problematic. Imported and exported terrorism is likely to increase.

Iran is the new gorilla in the region. If it is able to develop a nuclear weapon, the entire political landscape of the area will change dramatically. Even without a nuke, Iran is proving that it can and will be helpful to Shiite regimes, such as Iraq. The cost of its aid will be great influence over those countries prospectively.

Sectarian violence will envelope the region post-ISIS. Iran will accelerate its efforts to destabilize Sunni governments, and Saudi Arabia will respond in kind to thwart Shiite nations. Murderous actions, suicide bombing and political gamesmanship will be prevalent.

Several other powder kegs could also create unrest and more violence. They include the efforts of Turkey to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish state. Another is the fate of Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Most Arab nations want him dethroned. The downward spiral of the price of oil could create economic and political stress among Arab oil producing nations that might threaten existing regimes, especially Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The outlook for the Middle East is great turmoil, destabilization and discontentment.

Future Sectarian Violence Is Dependent Upon Iraq’s Use Of Force In Tikrit

By Sal Bommarito

The New York Times reported that the impending assault on Tikrit in a Sunni-dominated area of Iraq could be coming to a dramatic conclusion in the next few days. During this encounter, Iran has become a powerful benefactor of Iraq providing soldiers, intelligence and, most recently, rockets that may be deployed in the battle with ISIS.

The current standoff at Tikrit is a saga that will likely be repeated time and again as the 30,000 man Iraqi army continues to recapture land absconded by ISIS. Important issues are that the force consists almost exclusively of Shiites that are attacking ISIS in areas dominated by Sunnis, and the use of rockets to liberate Tikrit could result in many civilian casualties and massive property damage.

These controversies relate to the ongoing debate about what methods Iraq will employ to root out ISIS. The cost of this process could be very high depending upon the amount of force Iraq (and Iran) utilizes, and the determination of ISIS as they fortify their positions among innocent bystanders.

Ground forces are finally in play and resulting in some success; the U.S is providing none. These fighters will need to enter the city and engage the enemy door-to-door. Alternatively, the Shiite government fighting force may opt to use rockets and heavy artillery, which will kill ISIS insurgents and decrease its own casualties. But, this tactic will result in the destruction of Tikrit and the deaths of many Sunnis living in it.

President Obama does not want to engage ISIS with U.S. ground forces, nor does he wish to conduct bombing sorties that result in collateral damage. These decisions have enabled ISIS to survive to this point. The Iraqis and Iranians could change the state of play, but it may be at a huge cost.

Sectarian violence will increase if innocent Sunnis are slaughtered. A backlash is probable in Iraq and from neighboring Sunni-Arab nations. Collateral damage could be interpreted as a form of genocide to increase Shiite control in Iraq in the post-ISIS era. Moreover, the influence of Iran in Iraqi affairs will grow exponentially. It will be the ultimate cost of Iran’s aid in the fight with ISIS, a role that most people believed the U.S. would play.

This dilemma is symptomatic of the complexity of the ISIS imbroglio. The U.S. wants to defeat ISIS but is unwilling to deliver the firepower necessary to accomplish this end. Iran also wants to kill off ISIS and has joined Iraq on the ground while providing rocket armaments.

The response to the Iraq/Iran battle tactics could have a lasting impact on the sectarian rift in Iraq. It appears that the U.S. will be sitting on the sidelines as this all plays out.

The Decline Of American Influence In The Middle East

By Sal Bommarito

The president and Congress have devalued the war with ISIS as neither has any motivation to produce a resolution from Congress to continue the fight. This story was reported in the New York Times.

Many Americans believe our leaders and lawmakers are not meeting their constitutional responsibilities regarding the war and that a unified response by both parties to it is critical. How can 535 of our government representatives ignore what is happening in the Middle East? How can these “leaders” turn their backs while ISIS is murdering innocents and inciting violence around the world? Why would the U.S. allow Iran to usurp the leadership of the effort to exterminate the insurgents?

The party lines are that Republicans won’t agree to a watered down resolution that limits the power of the president to take the fight to the rebels. This would include any restrictions on the employment of ground forces. Democrats would only consider a limited resolution fearing another long-term military sojourn in the region.

The president doesn’t give a damn what Congress does or doesn’t do; he says that he has the authorization to continue his battle plan based upon resolutions from Congress dating back over a decade.

One wonders whether all these individuals would be so aloof if our soldiers started coming home in body bags. Then again, it’s doubtful that the U.S. will experience significant casualties if it just continues to drop bombs.

In the meantime, Iran is stepping up and assisting Iraq’s Shiite government with soldiers, equipment, arms, expertise and intelligence. Iraqi officials are gratefully accepting this aid. Iran’s investments will surely pay off in the future when Iraq can begin to focus on building its government, which will be totally dominated by Shiites and greatly influenced politically by Iran.

Iraqi leadership has been relishing recent successes on the battlefield with limited U.S. involvement. Yet, the sectarian storm is brewing as Iraqi forces, which include Shiite militiamen and Iranian soldiers are storming Sunni-controlled territory.

After ten plus years of American bloodshed and over a trillion dollars of money spent in Iraq, the U.S. has given up and is leaving Iraq and Syria to the dogs.

The big question is why is the U.S. hanging around at all? If we are disengaging, let’s pull all our forces and stand by as the Arabs kill each other. Apparently, the fate of six million refugees and displaced Arabs is of no concern to American leaders. Neither are the anarchy, civil wars, sectarian violence and genocide that will follow the end of ISIS hostilities. And what of the dominance of Iran that now seems inevitable?

For Americans 60 years and older, it is difficult to witness the deteriorating influence of the U.S. throughout the world perpetrated by the current regime in Washington. It has squandered much of what has been created since World War II.

When IS This ISIS Thing Going To End?

By Sal Bommarito

The possibilities for ISIS are numerous. Depending upon the actions of its opposition, the rebels may survive and/or morph into yet another manifestation of Al Qaeda or another Arab Spring; the former is more likely than the latter.

The surest way to “destroy and degrade” ISIS is for the U.S. to employ ground troops. There seems to be no impetus to do this on a grand scale, but over time, President Obama may approve the deployment of more Special Forces units to help root out ISIS. This action would make bombing missions more productive and give pause to ISIS fighters. Special Forces could also be used to assassinate ISIS leaders, which might destabilize the rebels.

By some miracle, or with the help of Iran, the Iraqis may make some progress in repelling ISIS and recover land absconded by the insurgents. Many are not sanguine about the motivation or the courage of Iraq soldiers, so significant Iranian intervention may be necessary to impact ISIS. Obviously, a mass Iranian intrusion could have a material effect, but there is no reason to believe that the Ayatollah’s army will be more inspired than the Iraqis.

A more significant issue is that the potential influence of Iran will increase in Iraq, as does its military involvement. This contingency will surely affect the tenuous Shiite/Sunni situation in Iraq. The more the Iranians interfere, the less chance Sunnis will ever achieve any significant political power or access to natural resources.

At some point, other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey may reach a breaking point and finally become active members of the coalition. This possibility is doubtful unless ISIS threatens the stability of these nations. For instance, unless ISIS recruits large groups to commit terrorist acts, or ISIS grows strong enough to cross the Iraq or Syria borders, neighboring nations will probably refrain from any aggressive actions.

ISIS may try to establish a new religious state on Iraqi and Syrian territory. This is truly a pipe dream. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the last caliphate ended in 1924. It was overseen by a select group of Imams, but ruled by local leaders. Today, ISIS could never muster the resources to build a secure central government. The chances that any other nations would recognize this new entity are zero. ISIS squandered whatever political capital it had by murdering, immolating and torturing innocent men, women and children.

The final possibility is that the ISIS rebels tire of fighting. Constant bombing threats and months away from home will have an impact on the enthusiasm of the group. It just might dissipate over time leaving a massive, social, political and financial disaster in its wake.

After the hostilities subside, the problems are not over. Civil wars are likely in several places in the region. In particular, the Shiites and Sunnis will be at each other’s throats in Iraq. And, the world will once again be demanding that Assad in Syria abdicate. We can all look forward to continuing issues emanating out of the Middle East including the possibility that Iran may have a nuclear weapon in a few years.

Iran Will Effectively Annex Iraq After ISIS Is Defeated

By Sal Bommarito

Iran is assisting the government of Iraq and fighting side by side with Iraqis against ISIS on the battlefield. This turn of events that is documented in a New York Times story will likely lead to the effective annexation of Iraq by Iran after the war ends.

Iran has filled a void created by President Obama’s decision not to employ ground troops against ISIS. Recent successes on the ground throughout the country have stemmed, to a degree, the advances of the enemy.

There is a method to Iran’s actions that will greatly impact the direction of Iraq after ISIS is neutralized. Iran’s hegemonic behavior is recognized by all Arab nations. Its desire to control Arabs and assist Shiite regimes is infamous. This latest ploy to stem the tide of ISIS on the ground could very well lead to even stronger bonds between these two Shiite-controlled governments as they jointly oppress Sunnis throughout Iraq.

A civil war is inevitable in Iraq post ISIS. In order to gain total control, the Iraqi government must exterminate the ISIS insurgents and marginalize Sunnis who remain in the country. Oppression is virtually guaranteed. In fact, Shiite militia groups have already violated many Sunnis during the campaign against ISIS.

After a decade of support given to Iraq by the U.S. that included the end of Saddam Hussein’s reign of terror, a trillion dollars of financial assistance and thousands of American casualties, Iraq will likely yield to Iran politically.

Could this have been avoided? Yes, if the president had sent in ground troops to take the fight to ISIS, Iranians would not have asserted themselves upon the Iraqis. The price of assisting Iraq after the war might have been prohibitive and could have led to another nation-building adventure, something that most Americans eschew.

The bonds between Iraq and Iran have now strengthened materially and perhaps a puppet government that ruthlessly oppresses the minority religion will result in a tenuous peace.

The subordination of American leadership and military support may be the direction future presidents adopt. But, the impact of such a policy will enable hegemonic nations like Iran to increase their influence in surrounding nations and decrease the chances for democracy.

Why Has ISIS Been So Difficult To Eradicate?

By Sal Bommarito

The ISIS imbroglio is beginning to create extreme anxiety in the Middle East, among western nations and in America.

At first, the U.S. and Arab Nations did not give ISIS the respect it deserved. This horrendous miscalculation has enabled ISIS to become a cult that is admired by young and disenfranchised people around the world. The group’s expertise in using social media and to recruit new fighters has been spectacular. All this has evolved into a phenomenon- a fighting force that has held its own in spite of U.S. air attacks and continued confrontations on the ground. ISIS is repelling offensives by Iraqi forces, Syrian forces, Shiite militias and most recently Iranian fighters.

ISIS started out as a junior varsity imposition (to paraphrase a comment by President Obama) and has grown into a formidable group of fighters with a strong, although warped, ideology that is attracting many followers, affiliates and imitators.

But, something is amiss. ISIS, in spite of growing coverage by the media, is still an enigma. The public knows very little about the leadership of ISIS or its ultimate objectives. Surely, ISIS cannot believe it is capable of establishing a new Islamic nation. It does not have the resources or the experience to govern and service several hundred thousand or a million citizens. ISIS will never become a real threat to the west beyond its ability to conduct limited terrorist acts. And yet, to some Americans, the threat is growing every day.

One of the great frustrations surrounding ISIS is that information about the organization and its true potential is not being reported with any enthusiasm. The U.S. government’s operations are shrouded in secrecy, although Obama thought it wise to broadcast to the enemy that U.S. ground troops would not be deployed in the region. The U.S. mission has become a complete mystery- degrading and destroying the insurgents may be the slogan, but it’s not happening.

Exacerbating the affair is that the Obama administration is acting like a deer in the headlights. It is spending too much time trying to convince the world that ISIS is just a run of the mill terrorist organization and not a radical Islamic threat. It should be developing a battle plan to kill off the cockroaches that have destabilized the Middle East.

Maybe Obama’s grand plan is to force Arabs to clean up their own mess. All things being equal, this tactic sounds reasonable. It is the Arabs who are under siege, so why should America pay for a war and put its young people in harm’s way?

The answer to the question traces back to the role of the U.S. in the world. In simple terms, should America step aside while ISIS immolates, beheads, tortures, rapes and displaces millions of people? Should America stand by and enable ISIS to commit egregious crimes against humanity? What is going to happen to the 5 or so million displaced Syrians and Iraqis? The writer believes America cannot turn its head in good conscience.

While we are on the sidelines dropping bombs from 15,000 feet, evil forces are imposing themselves. For instance, it has been reported that Iran is supporting Iraq ground forces and making points with Iraqi Shiites that control the country. Looking ahead, if ISIS is ever “neutralized,” Iran will have great influence over Iraq- the cost of the support it is now providing.

Other issues in the Middle East are muddying the water for the Obama administration. The president is determined to give Iran a nuclear capability in ten years. Prime Minister Netanyahu thinks this is an insane thing to agree to. Israel is preparing to go to war with Iran if it gets its way. More than any other issue, Iran’s nuclear program is diverting the U.S. from the task of dealing with ISIS.

Affiliates of ISIS are popping up all over the Middle East and murdering innocents. Lone wolves are planning nefarious acts in countries around the world. Why isn’t the U.S. leading a response to all these events? Is our country now just a spectator, a follower of other nations that have the courage to battle evil forces?

There is still time for the Obama administration to act decisively and prove that America can lead the free world.