Source Analysis: ISIS Is Losing In Iraq, But What Happens Next?

Kenneth M. Pollack, gives us this article as a basis for the situation in Iraq. However as a source it has several issues that would otherwise keep it from being a usable piece for an informative essay.

The author himself is a rather renowned figure. Being a noted former CIA intelligence analyst and proclaimed expert on Middle Eastern Military and affairs, it is without a doubt that he is an authority with the right to be discussing the subject matter in this article. Another point worth of note is the fact that this article was published by the New York Times which has been an established news source in the United States since 1851. The only issue with authority comes from the fact that this article was published in the opinion pages. The opinion pages is a section set off from the regular articles where authors states their ideas on different world issues. This in itself raises flags on the reliability of the information presented in the article.

However in the beginning of the article there is hardly a sign of opinion. The author starts by giving a broad explanation of the situation Iraq is currently facing. As well as pointing out certain issues that affect how the country can deal with the situation in the future. This in itself is reliable information. Theres also several mentions of the author having spoken with high military officials both American and Middle Eastern abou the war against ISIS.

It is apparent that the author is attempting to play on the ethical appeal for acceptance by his audience. His tone comes across with authority and understanding, while his background in military affairs and close contact with high military officials set ,s him in stone as a person of respect and knowledge. With such a knowledgeable mind backing the information presented, it becomes much easier to take the information as reputable.

Dr. Pollack also plays on the emotional appeal by pointing out the hardship the many Sunni Muslims face in Iraq which he then ties into to their active support of the ISIS movement. Yet this is where the opinionated side of the article begins to show its face. He begins to state the idea that Iraq is incapable of handling the current situation it faces. But, using the logical appeal, he explains the reasoning of this claim with the difficulty of the large Sunni population that supports ISIS rather than the Iraqi government. He states that the distrust between the Sunni population and the state of Iraq would not only make it difficult to push ISIS out of the state but could inflame the slow burning civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

This is where the article earns its place in the Opinion pages. After explaining why the Iraqi government is incapable of properly handling ISIS he immediately follows with this “The Iraqis are not going to solve these problems by themselves. Someone is going to have to help them. That someone can only be the United States.” This fine example of Toulmin Logic changes this piece from an informational overview, to opinionated declaration. From this point he continues to point out how the US should intervene in the conflict.

From what I’ve gathered this article stands as a good overview of current events in Iraq. However it should not be used as a reliable source. The lack of hard evidence and abundance of opinionated claims keep this article from being useful as a source. But it could find usefulness as an accompaniment to a paper that already has several good sources.

Link to Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/04/opinion/isis-is-losing-in-iraq-but-what-happens-next.html