What Should the U.S. Do To Defeat ISIS?
A similar question was posed recently in Scott Adams’ blog. The following, my first 500+ words on Medium, is my edited respose to that question.
There is nothing the U.S. can do to stop ISIS. Any attempt will A) make ISIS stronger or B) generate a new version of ISIS, just as ISIS is a new version of Al Qaeda.
There is only one thing the U.S. can do that will hinder the growth of ISIS. That is to completely withdraw from the region. U.S. military involvement (including providing arms) is to ISIS as mother’s milk is to a baby. Every airstrike that kills a Muslim, every made in the U.S.A. weapon that kills a Sunni, every U.S. adviser supporting Baghdad government troops, and every U.S. made piece of military equipment that supports the Shiite dominated government in Baghdad boosts recruitment much more than anything ISIS can do on its own.
The reason goes back hundreds of years. Followers of the prophet Muhammad split into two camps… now known as Sunnis and Shiites. The animosity between those camps knows no bounds. Outsiders who get involved are doomed to failure. This is not hyperbole. Read the history and see for yourself. I suppose the Crusades could be seen as an exception… but at the cost of making the hatred three way by adding Christians to the mix.
For the record, ISIS is Sunni, as is Al Qaeda. In 2003 The U.S. ousted a Sunni despot (Saddam) and installed a Shiite dominated government in Baghdad. Iran is Shiite, hence their support for Shiite government forces in Iraq. Saudi Arabia is Sunni, hence their unwillingness to actively oppose ISIS in Iraq. Yet the Saudi military enthusiastically bombs the shit out Houthis in Yemen. Houthis are Zaydis, an offshoot of the Shiite camp. I could go on, but you get the picture. As a test, figure out Syria on your own.
A big mistake was made by the U.S. military over a decade before the invasion of Iraq in 2003. That mistake was getting involved militarily when Saddam (Sunni) decided to invade Kuwait in the early 1990s. Saddam’s motive involved an oil dispute plus the fact that the Kuwaiti government is predominantly Shiite while a majority of Arabs in the country are Sunni. That mistake, known as the First Gulf War, generated a lot of hatred for the U.S. among Sunni Muslims.
Going back just a bit, Al Qaeda was formed by Osama bin Laden and some Sunni jihadist friends in the late 1980s just after the Afghan-Soviet war. They had received U.S. support in their effort to help drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. None-the-less, bin Laden and friends were royally pissed by U.S. actions in the First Gulf War a couple of years later. So pissed that they turned their jihadist attention to the U.S. They bombed embassies and what not leading up to the horror of 9/11/2001. For reasons not at all clear, that led to the HUGE mistake of invading Iraq in 2003… and you know the rest. You can now calculate all the U.S. lives that would not have been lost at home and in the Middle East were it not for that first big mistake.
I could go into the motive behind these military actions that ignored the history and cultures of the region. I’ll save that rant for another time.