Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Important First Step

All this talk of how we can't defeat ISIL militarily and we must defeat them ideologically misses the point that ISIL actually has a state to defeat and that crushing that state will be a good start to defeating them ideologically.

I keep hearing Nuanced Americans say that we can't defeat ISIL on the battlefield. Why not?

Did we engage the Nazis ideologically from 1941 to 1945? Is that how we defeated them? Did we send telegrams to Nazis and convince them of the error of their Aryan ways?

Or did we kill the Nazis and their supporters, drive them back into Germany, occupy their country, and force them to ban the ideology that spawned their aggression through an occupation that still goes on 70 years after the war was responsibly ended?

Yeah, it was the latter. I know I'm not the first to state this obvious fact, but it bears repeating.

Face it, part of the appeal of ISIL is that they have a state--the Islamic State--that spans large sections of Iraq and Syria. Plus they have franchise operations spreading across the Middle East and have the ability to bomb planes and attack Paris and Beirut.

Smashing their sanctuary in Iraq and Syria will be a good start in delegitimizing their ideology. Let's adopt my Iraq-first strategy that we actually seem to be finally starting in Iraq.

As for Syria, prepare for the long run post-Assad by supporting non-jihadi rebels and the Kurds. And while it is too late to set up a no-fly zone because of the risk of clashes with the Russian air force, we could set up fire-support zones with long-range rockets in Turkey and Jordan using aircraft flying along the border and drones inside Syria to help guide them against Syrian army, Hezbollah, and Iranian units, as I noted here:

Oh, and given that it will be difficult to safely provide air support for rebels in the western part of Syria because of Russia's planes and air defenses, why not use MLRS-launched ATACM long-range precision missiles placed in Turkey and Jordan? They have a range of 180 miles.

These long range missiles would help support rebels without risking air-to-air combat.

And if rebels start pushing away from the borders? Well, by then the Russians will be evacuating their forces and the skies will be cleared for our air power.

And set France to the task of cleaning up Libya. We'll help, I'm sure. France does not have the military to make a real difference in Syria. France has the military to make a difference in Libya, especially if France can get Egypt's help.

Remember, we did such a good job against al Qaeda by smashing them first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq where al Qaeda decided to make their main effort that President Obama boasted in his reelection campaign that al Qaeda was on their heels and on the run.

But we let up the pressure to maintain the election campaign fiction that the president had "responsibly ended" the war. And so al Qaeda in Iraq was reborn as ISIL (with Baathist help, don't forget).

So even smashing ISIL in their caliphate and denying them a state won't be enough. We have to keep going after the jihadis who believe in ISIL wherever they are so that potential recruits turn down the Internet offer to go die in an unmarked grave in some Hell hole because one of our JDAMs or special operators killed them.

And maybe Moslem soccer fans won't feel so emboldened that they mock the deaths of Westerners by chanting "Allahu-Akbar" during a moment of silence.

We have to keep going after the jihadis so that moderate Moslems have the security to define Islam their way rather than the way ISIL and other jihadis want to define Islam.

So do we have to defeat Islamo-fascists ideologically? You bet we do.

And smashing their jihadi caliphate is the first step toward doing that. Let's get on with it. It's a long war.