Stopping ISIS — Way Harder Than it Sounds
Stopping ISIS? Way harder than it sounds, i.e., what the hell are we getting ourselves into:
Even limited success for this new effort, analysts say, hinges on an unenviable to-do list for the Obama administration: foster cozier relations with Iran, gamble on the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels, strong-arm Iraq’s Shiite Muslim leaders into power-sharing with the Sunni Muslim minority, and persuade Sunni-ruled nations in the Persian Gulf region not to undermine the whole effort by striking out on their own.
Piece of cake, right? Gawd.
And how about answers to at least some of these questions:
What do you [Obama] expect the response of ISIS to be, given especially that these killings that have gotten so much attention have been couched by the group as revenge for military action we’ve already taken? Why shouldn’t we expect more of the same if we do more of the same?
Have we considered whether part of the group’s purpose is to provoke more U.S. intervention, and therefore show themselves as the group standing up to the U.S.? Would we not indeed be playing into their hands by doing so?
Given that Matthew Olsen, the outgoing director of the NCTC [National Counterterrorism Center] made a statement the other day that we do not face the prospect of attacks by this group against the homeland, why are we focusing as much attention as we are against this one group? They’ve done certain dramatic things that have gotten our attention, and the press’s attention, but what exactly are the U.S.’s interests at stake?
Given that this group’s advances in Syria and Iraq have had a great deal to do with the larger sectarian conflict in those countries… how do we intervene without effectively taking sides in a sectarian conflict in which the United States has no interest? Why should we favor Shiites or Sunnis? Because that’s exactly how it will be seen. Have you considered the downside of being seen as taking sides in a sectarian conflict, in terms of the enemies that you make?
With particular regard to the question of intervening in Syria: What exactly would be our broader political objective? Do we still believe that [Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad] must go? And if we do, how do we square this with an intervention against ISIS, given that the regime and ISIS are the two most powerful interests in the Syrian civil war?
How effective would air strikes be against a group most of whose strength is closely intermingled with civilian populations? It does not consist of large military formations out in the desert. How do you do something effective militarily without causing casualties among innocent civilians?