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Monday, September 22, 2014

Wagging the Dog

The U.S. has begun to conduct air strikes against ISIS in Syrian territory. However, while I agree that we need to deal with ISIS, it does not mean that I necessarily agree with how such a conflict is being conducted.

According to the New York Times:
The United States and allies launched airstrikes against Sunni militants in Syria early Tuesday, unleashing a torrent of cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs from the air and sea on the militants’ de facto capital of Raqqa and along the porous Iraq border. 
American fighter jets and armed Predator and Reaper drones, flying alongside warplanes from several Arab allies, struck a broad array of targets in territory controlled by the militants, known as the Islamic State. American defense officials said the targets included weapons supplies, depots, barracks and buildings the militants use for command and control. Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from United States Navy ships in the region.
All well and good. But then there is this:
In addition, Saudi Arabia recently agreed to a training facility for moderate members of the Syrian opposition, whom the United States hopes to train, equip and send back to Syria to fight both Mr. Assad and Islamic State militants.
... The airstrikes in Syria, so far, come without the benefit of a large ground force to capitalize on gains they make. While some Syrian opposition groups fighting the Islamic State militants may be able to move into a few cleared areas, administration officials acknowledged on Monday that it was doubtful that the Free Syrian Army, the opposition group most preferred by the United States, would be able to take control of major sections of Islamic State territory, at least not until it has been better trained — which will take place over the next year. 
That could leave the forces of Mr. Assad in perhaps the best position to take advantage of any American bombardment. An administration official on Monday acknowledged that that was a worry, but said, “We don’t plan to make it easy for Assad to reclaim territory.” He declined to say what methods the United States would use to prevent the Syrian leader from capitalizing on the American aerial bombardment.
In other words, Obama and the other progressives now have the war they wanted to launch against Syria--and just shortly before the November election, in time to boost Democratic poll numbers.

I've noted before my objections to this strategy: (1) we will simply be training ISIS's replacements; and (2) we will not be destroying the will of our enemies to fight. I am not the only one with these objections. Andrew McCarthy notes that ISIS displays the same behavior that we see from Saudi Arabia, which we would expect because it is home of the hateful Wahhabi  sect. McCarthy notes:
The Obama administration regards the Saudi government as America’s key partner in the fight against Islamic State jihadists. The increasingly delusional Secretary of State John Kerry reasons that this is because the fight is more ideological than military. Get it? The world’s leading propagators of the ideology that breeds violent jihad are our best asset in an ideological struggle against violent jihadists. 
Aloof as ever from irony, Mr. Kerry gave this assessment while visiting King Abdullah in Riyadh on, of all days, September 11 — the thirteenth anniversary of the day when 15 Saudis joined four other terrorists in mass-murdering nearly 3,000 Americans in furtherance of the Islamic-supremacist ideology on which they were reared. The 19 were, of course, members of al-Qaeda, the jihadist network sprung from Saudi Arabia and its fundamentalist “Wahhabi” Islam. 
Secretary Kerry and President Obama, like British prime minister David Cameron, insist that the Islamic State, an al-Qaeda-launched jihadist faction, is not Islamic. Evidently, this is owing to the terrorists’ savage tactics. In essence, however, they are the same tactics practiced by our “moderate Islamist” allies. 
Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam: the birthplace of Mohammed, the site of the Hijra by which Islam marks time — the migration from Mecca to Medina under siege by Mohammed and his followers. The Saudi king is formally known as the “Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques” (in Mecca and Medina); he is the guardian host of the Haj pilgrimage that Islam makes mandatory for able-bodied believers. The despotic Saudi kingdom is governed by Islamic law — sharia. No other law is deemed necessary and no contrary law is permissible. 
It is thus under the authority of sharia that the Saudis routinely behead prisoners.
 The more useful article on this topic, however, is that of Angelo Codevilla, who writes:
The American people’s reaction to Muslim thugs of the “Islamic State” ritually knifing off the heads of people who look like you and me boils down to “let’s destroy these bastards”—which is common sense. But our ruling class, from President Obama on the Left to The Wall Street Journal on the Right, take the public’s pressure to do this as another occasion for further indulging their longtime preferences, prejudices, and proclivities for half-measures in foreign affairs—the very things that have invited people from all over the planet to join hunting season on Americans. 
This indulgence so overwhelms our ruling class’s perception of reality that the recipes put forth by its several wings, little different from one another, are identical in the one essential respect: none of them involve any plans which, if carried out, would destroy the Islamic State, kill large numbers of the cut-throats, and discourage others from following in their footsteps. Hence, like the George W. Bush’s “war on terror” and for the same reasons, this exercise of our ruling class’s wisdom in foreign affairs will decrease respect for us while invigorating our enemies.
... Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a Marine veteran, objected: “We need to crush ISIS and not work on arming more Islamic radicals. Just what would arming these people accomplish?” To prevent massive numbers of Republican congressmen from joining this common-sense question, the House Armed Services Committee’s bill requires the administration to  answer it in a report to Congress some time in the future, but not now. The fact that the administration and the leaders of both parties—the ruling class—did not make reasoned answers to the key questions the primary premise of their request suggests not so much that they are hiding these answers from others as much as that they themselves have not addressed the questions.
 Read the whole thing.

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