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Fighting ISIL is Not America's War: Other Countries Should Lead Coalition against Islamic State

September 13, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

President Barack Obama now has a strategy for dealing with the Islamic State. He plans to repeat Washington’s earlier failed strategies for intervening in the Middle East.

Since 1991 every administration has used force in Iraq. The result has been disaster. Washington’s target now includes Syria. The U.S. again will organize, lead, arm, train, and bomb. Other countries might help out—a little. The result again likely will be disaster.

Washington should try a new approach. The U.S. should leave the fight to those actually threatened by the enemy du jour, in this case ISIL. Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, in particular, should act to degrade the Islamist group’s capabilities, shrink its territory, and defeat it, as the president hopes to do.

The Islamic State is flamboyantly evil. But that doesn’t make it particularly dangerous to America. “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi might spin fantasies about ISIL conquering much of the region and creating a powerful Islamic kingdom rooted in the 7th century. But the Islamic State is no replacement for the Soviet Union.

With the latest estimate of 20,000 to 30,000 fighters—after months of increased recruiting—ISIL’s total fighting strength equals about two U.S. army divisions—minus the training and equipment (though the group acquired a lot of materiel from the defeated Iraqi army). The Islamic State is weaker than every genuine state in the region as well as America. The group has succeeded primarily because of its opponents’ infirmities. Even without U.S. involvement, the Islamic State would find it difficult to hold onto its gains as its adversaries regroup.

The Islamic State is flamboyantly evil. But that doesn’t make it particularly dangerous to America.”

The president deceptively called ISIL a terrorist group and contended that “these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States.” Secretary of State John Kerry expanded the deceit: “We’re engaged in a major counterterrorism operation, and it’s going to be a long-term counterterrorism operation. I think war is the wrong terminology and analogy.”

So far this is flatly false.

U.S. intelligence officials admit that they see in the group neither the willingness nor the desire to attack the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged: “We know of no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the homeland at present.” Nicholas Rasmussen, Deputy Director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, told Congress that ISIL primarily threatened U.S. interests “inside Iraq right …read more

Source: OP-EDS