Let’s get one thing out of the way regarding ISIS: There would be no ISIS if we -United States- didn’t invade, occupy and remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq in 2003. Period. Furthermore, if we -NATO- hadn’t intervened in Libya, helping overthrow the Qaddafi regime, containing and combating ISIS would be far simpler. Period. Again, and I will type slowly if anyone is having trouble keeping up: No 2003 Iraq War, No ISIS.
With that caveat out of the way, I’d like to expand upon the impressive PBS Frontline special last night regarding ISIS. I think there is great irony in the fact no single name for the group can be agreed upon. ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State, the Caliphate, “so-called” Islamic State, and Daesh are a sampling of the monikers, a lack of coherence emblematic of the ongoing engagement with the terror state. For the purposes of this discussion I will use the term I feel best informs: IS, short for Islamic State.
The Frontline piece did an outstanding job laying bare the convoluted nature of the operation to “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.” Letting its viewers take a peek behind the bureaucratic curtain for a moment where the propaganda machine churns, eventually spitting out the aforementioned “taste tested” language so important in a battle of such epic proportions as this. I’m joking, obviously. But it is such a good example of PR officials hard at work to win the war of words, as if that actually matters beyond the political front? Alas, once the language is loaded in the prompter, it’s time to get this “arsenal of democracy” in gear; “let’s roll merica!”
As a strategy isn’t it obvious that we should reach back in our illustrious past for winning game like say, Vietnam, Cuba, Iran or Honduras? Yea chief, you see, we’ll bomb the shit out of them, train up some moderate jihadists, and finally put these sand castles back in the win column! Sounds great General, how’s 500 million, a couple Aircraft Carrier groups and a few hundred armed robot drones to get this party started? Roger that Barry, bring on those moderate Muslims.
It’d be a funny movie if it weren’t an accurate, albeit simplified version of a portrayal of events, only days following the murder -beheading- of a brave American journalist and aid workers kidnapped in Syria. Take a guess how this master stroke of Cold War flavor vomit turned out, in a tactical or political sense? As a former grunt who served in the Middle East within a not dissimilar clusterfuck for a mission, it comes as no shock that a bunch of chair-borne, twiddle-dees & tweedle-dumbs hatched this plan from some moldy bunker within The Pentagon, ultimately selling it to the White House for action. Neither does it shock me that the Obama Administration set-forth with the bloody charade. What I do find puzzling is the country’s and Congresses’ feigned shock at its utter failure?
Sometimes I think I can look into the President’s mind and understand his decision making process? With most propositions he’s offered, it seems his larger question is always: “what happens next?” A quality of reasoning the predeceasing administration lacked to its own glorious demise. For instance, a no fly zone? So what happens when Russia violates that no-fly zone? Or, take al-Assad out of power? Who fills the void if not IS? The human suffering in the region is on a level rarely seen since WWII. Something must be done to mitigate the damage, but what?
Let’s say our bombing campaign costs us roughly a billion dollars a week roughly? How would the country, the world and/or Congress react if we paused the bombing for a month and instead, use the 4 billion dollars to increase the health and safety for the millions of refugee’s living in camps, from Jordan to Egypt to Turkey and Iraq? That would be bold. That would shake things up and possibly even reduce a little of the shade the United States has earned from citizens all over the Greater Middle East. Call it: Killing them with kindness? Yeah right? The reaction from Congress and the Pentagon would be fierce and overwhelming.
And so…we get to the point I’ve been trying to make for years. The evidence seems clear and unassailable; on some level, oozing up through the cracks, chaos is what we want in the Middle East, not stability. War is a business. Homeland security is a business. Espionage is a business. War is a racket, and America is the Gordon Gecko of Weapons Street. There is compassion in food, water and medical supplies. There’s no money in it though, sadly.
These terrible policies that perpetuate conflict and empirically have never worked as advertised are implemented intentionally.