Syria: The Wisdom, or Waste, of ‘Boots on the Ground’ in Iraq and Syria | 08/10/14
by John Brian Shannon
President Barack Obama has charted a wise course with regards to the developing terrorist situation in Iraq and Syria, thus far neither committing too much nor too little in an attempt to mitigate the threat posed by ISIS to the U.S.A.
A lack of reaction to the threat might have emboldened the terrorist entity known as ISIS or ISIL, while overreacting may have turned every American voter against the President and his party which would have been incredibly bad timing with midterm elections just weeks ahead.
Rather than veer to either extreme, Obama has pursued a unified effort aiming to build a broad-based coalition to fight ISIS with airpower in Iraq and Syria. And he has succeeded in building that broad-based effort.
It is a mature response to a rising threat which could, conceivably, cause harm to America, someday
So far, the threat from ISIS is 95% ‘smoke’ and 5% ‘fire’ as ISIS seems content with murdering it’s own countrymen and women. It’s true, that could change in the future. But the President must react to what is real and present now — not to ‘sky is falling’ scenarios — that may or may not ever occur.
Addressing ISIS with a measured response and a ramping-up humanitarian aid as Mr. Obama has done has taken much of the wind out of the sails of ISIS, which had been poised to loudly accuse the West of being the biggest bully on the block, of killing huge numbers of civilians in major air campaigns and street-to-street fighting and of wreaking wholesale destruction in the region.
While the President has skillfully charted a middle course, the expected cry of; ‘We need Boots on the Ground to contain and destroy ISIS’ is becoming louder by the week.
The political hawks can barely contain their excitement — imagining all of the additional capability that ‘boots on the ground’ could add to the fight against ISIS in Iraq and in Syria! They could name it; Operation Déjà Vu.
So if all that, is so good; Why didn’t 10-years-worth-of ‘boots on the ground’ work in Iraq?
At the peak of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, the United States alone had some 356,000 combat troops along with hundreds of warplanes and artillery pieces inside the country. Not to mention a formidable US Navy presence in the Persian Gulf that fired hundreds of Tomahawk missiles into Iraq from positions in the Gulf.
But ten years of combat, $1 trillion dollars, and 4487 deaths/32,223 wounded, didn’t solve the terrorist threat in Iraq. Now it’s worse than ever. The very definition of failure
Yet, the cry of; ‘We need Boots on the Ground in Iraq and Syria to deal with the growing terrorist threat’ persist! What is it with some people? A failed policy, is a failed policy, is a failed policy — and you can shoot the messenger all you want — but at the end of the day it’s still a failed policy!
Raise your hand if you honestly think that yet another 10 years of war, another $1 trillion dollars and another 5000 U.S. troop deaths/32,000 wounded, will solve the ISIS problem for good
If you put up your hand, go turn in your Drivers Licence and your gun permit right now — you are too dumb to drive a car and too dumb to own a gun. You’re not smarter than a 5th-grader! If you need help with any of this ask your kids.
It didn’t work the first time and it won’t work the second time. By the way, it didn’t work in Afghanistan either. There are thousands more terrorists there now too
Out of a handful of bad choices, President Obama has, so far, chosen the least-bad choice. We should give him credit for that.
Continually degrading ISIS capabilities, ramping-up humanitarian aid and dramatically increasing diplomatic and other ‘soft power’ efforts, is the long-term solution to this long-term problem. Increasing awareness and investigation of suspect individuals here in the West is also an important step.
Military power can only solve military problems — and the rise of Islamism is not a military problem.
But we’ve got all of these bombs, we might as well use them!
The problem with that — is that every time you kill 1 person in war, you make 250 new enemies. That’s right, each person on the planet is acquainted with or is related to, 250 other people on average. When you drop a bomb, lob a shell, or fire a few hundred bullets — and thereby kill 100 people — you’ve just made 25,000 new enemies.
If you drop a lot of bombs and kill 100,000 people (regardless if they’re terrorists or innocent casualties) each 1 of them have 250 friends and families — living somewhere in the world — and you’ve just made 25 million new enemies.
That’s the way it is with bombs, shells, and bullets. And friends and family, by the way.
Which is why war — that is, killing people who disagree with you politically — is always a bad idea and should be reserved for the most extreme of emergencies and only in actual cases of self-defence.
By some counts, the original coalition is responsible for the deaths of between 654,965 people (The Lancet) and 1,033,000 people (ORB International) during the Iraq War (all of whom likely had the global average of 250 family and friends each) and we’re scratching our heads here in the West wondering why those bad ‘ol Iraqis and Syrians hate us.
Here’s the math on that:
654,965 X 250 family and friends each = 163,741,250 (using the Lancet’s Iraq War body count total)
1,033,000 X 250 family and friends each = 258,250,000 (using ORB International’s Iraq War body count total)
Why would we want to add to those numbers? Why would we want to get another 4,500 US military members killed? Why would we want to spend another $1 trillion dollars?
What reason is good enough? I’d like to know and so would a lot of people. You can call those people ‘taxpayers’ or ‘voters’ — your choice
We can keep ISIS down to a dull roar via the use of airpower, by negating their anti-Western propaganda effort through enhanced humanitarian aid in the region, and by ‘boxing them in’ to a tiny region of the world via coalition-building in the West and especially with and among the Middle East nations.
We shouldn’t shrink back from prosecuting ISIS criminals in Iraqi or the International Court of Justice
Hey! We’re in the right. They’re acting against their particular nations’ laws, and quite possibly against international law. So, obviously, let’s stay on the right side of Iraqi and Syrian law — and on the right side of international law too! — and use the full force of the law against these illegal actors. Let’s make them feel like criminals, because, well, they are criminals.
The rest of the solution will come via aggressive and innovative diplomacy, by increasing the level and quality of intelligence sharing with Iraq, Syria, and neighbouring countries, as well as promoting the same between Middle East nations.
Soft Power will be the solution to the rising and long-term ISIS problem. Coalition airpower is merely buying us time, so that soft power efforts have time to ramp-up and begin showing some success.
If we can’t do it soon and do it well, all we are doing is wasting our bombs and creating more enemies for ourselves.