9.16.2014

AMERICA FIGHTING ISIS ON THE EMOTIONAL CHEAP

The president has vowed to defeat ISIS, but will the less than passionate approach make America's involvement more lengthy?

Written by R. JAMES TOWE  james@sollicitus.us

An Alleged Execution by ISIS
On Monday, the Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly rejected President Obama's invitation to join forces against ISIS. 

There is a sense of disbelief that an American president would attempt to enlist the brutal Iranian regime in a fight against terrorism. A regime that itself is defined as a 'state sponsor of terror' by the president's Department of State. The irony.    

AS THE WORLD UNRAVELS

The continuing downward spiral in world affairs finds its roots in American disengagement, beginning with the 'Russian reset' envisioned by Hillary Clinton. The president later relinquished missile defense in Eastern Europe at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr Putin had long feared that an American missile defense blanket would make Russia's nuclear arsenal obsolete. The Russian president later thanked America for its retreat by invading and annexing Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Bravo, indeed.

But the most egregious act, one that may well define this presidency, was the precipitous withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. The president announced that a status of forces agreement was unreachable, thereby placing US personnel at the mercy of the Iraqi legal system. In truth, the status of forces debate was merely a pretext. The president had vowed to end the war in Iraq during his 2008 presidential campaign. It was a view held close to his heart. He required this political asset for the 2012 reelection campaign. 

In this he succeeded. 

America left Iraq and Mr Obama's political base cheered wildly and with a touch of madness to the beat of 'righting' America's 'wrongs'.

A NEW HAVEN FOR TERRORISTS EMERGES

Now that Iraq's government apparatus has fallen into dysfunction, it continues to define itself through sectarian cronyism. The Iraqi government is controlled by the country's Shi'ite majority, while marginalizing adherents of the Sunni sect of Islam. These theological lines have become political divisions. One could argue that the Iraqi state ceases to exist, as Baghdad has become a city-state of sorts, wielding little influence outside the capital. 

Efforts to arm and support the Syrian Free Army, or what remains of this nebulous group of 'moderates', create sound bites for an administration struggling to stop the hemorrhaging of poll numbers. This might explain the lack of enthusiasm among key allies to assist in an intervention that has been sloppily thought through by its author.

As the president's generals insist increasingly that 'boots on the ground' will be necessary to rout the Islamic State, Mr Obama may agree but grudgingly. American ground forces have begun to trickle into Iraq as General Martin Dempsey has noted that these military advisers could find themselves in combat roles. 

HARSH LESSONS YET TO COME

If the United States indeed engages the enemy with a skeleton force, the lack of commitment  will make for tragedy and a lengthy ordeal. American privates and lieutenants may be captured and beheaded for the world to watch in horror. The president's poll numbers will fall further, while the public wonders how Mr Obama became commander-in-chief in the first place. 

Fighting the Islamic State will almost certainly become mired yet again by a politically correct and timid American foreign policy.

One hopes and prays that the president finally looks through a lens of reality and sets his deep-seated ideology aside. In order for this worthy endeavor to end in success, the president must commit to a serious plan backed by an impassioned White House. If not, tough days lie ahead for America and the West.

9.10.2014

THE NECESSARY EVIL OF SUPPORTING SYRIA'S ASSAD

Bashar al-Assad may be America's best asset against the Islamic State.

Written by R. JAMES TOWE  james@sollicitus.us

Aiding Syrian Rebels will lead to disaster.
In September of 2013, President Barack Obama's self-imposed 'red-line' regarding Syria's chemical weapons, boomeranged its way back to the White House. 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crossed the 'line' when his military unleashed chemical weapons against a mixture of rebel fighters and civilians. The president hesitated and ultimately failed to act. Russian President Vladimir Putin, an Assad ally, stole the show as he reached an agreement that ultimately removed Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.

Regardless of the president's bungling during the infamous September of 2013, Assad became an international pariah over the incident. A man so reviled that no solution to any problem could imaginably include his assistance. 

Considering the rapid deterioration of the region, it may be time to reconsider this stubborn and potentially catastrophic position.

MY ENEMY'S ENEMY IS MY FRIEND

Assad's position in Syria is little different from that of the region's past dictators. He seeks to hold power by any means. Bashar's father and predecessor, Hafez, was an especially brutal individual. He once quashed an uprising by literally flattening an entire Syrian village and paving its footprint to make his point. Result: uprising no more.

The president's notion of 'taking the leap' and arming Syria's moderate rebel entities will prolong and expand upon an already untenable situation. 

If the West pumps weapons to select Syrian militias, the effort will not provide a 'tipping-point', rather, it will simply allow for more blood as these rebels engage Assad's forces and ISIS with increased aggression. Both Assad's forces and ISIS are well armed, well funded and in for the long-haul. Undesirable indeed.

The solution is to initiate air-strikes in eastern Syria, with or without Assad's permission, while abandoning any notion that supporting rebels in that country would benefit our national interest or the interests of Syrian civilians. And finally, provide Assad with actionable intelligence against ISIS.

The West must accept that there are no perfect solutions in Syria, or the Middle East, for that matter. The bottom line is that if Assad consolidates power, the region likely returns to its old status quo. If the Islamic State succeeds, expect something like Nazi Germany, in the Levant.