Friday, November 25, 2016

Doing Jobs Americans Won't Do?

The idea that helping allies and friends fight common enemies is a new strategy by President Obama that is being put on display is nonsense. What is being put on display is relying on allies to fight our enemies.

Suck up much?

As Iraqi forces launch their long-awaited campaign to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State, President Obama’s doctrine of aiding other countries militarily rather than leading every fight is facing its greatest test yet. ...

Mosul is the largest example of a counterterrorism model that the Obama administration has put in place from Afghanistan to Libya. In Somalia, Special Forces troops are training Somali and other African troops to combat the militants of the Shabab. In Syria, about 300 Special Forces troops are aiding Syrian Kurdish and Arab militias with training and air support in the battle against the Islamic State.

“We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us,” Mr. Obama said at West Point in 2014, when he laid out the counterterrorism strategy to cadets graduating from the United States Military Academy.

First, while ISIL is certainly a terrorist organization, it is also a proto-state spanning Syria and Iraq as its core that is defending terrain. So fighting ISIL in Mosul is not in any way an example of a counterterrorism strategy.

Second, we have long done things that helped allies. And since 9/11 it has been our policy to help allies do the job on their own as much as possible. That's how we routed the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, recall. And it is what Bush did in Afghanistan until Obama ordered two large escalations there. Our post-9/11 fights during the Bush administration against jihadis in the Philippines and Somalis followed that pattern.

So the idea that helping partners fight common enemies is somehow new is ludicrous.

To their credit, the authors note that this isn't working out in Afghanistan lately.

But to their debit, the claim that 2014 shows that America's extensive training effort in Iraq before we left was a waste is false. We left a good counter-insurgency army in place when we left. Our departure just allowed that training to degrade. Training is an ongoing process--not a product you buy and put on the shelf until needed.

What is new (well, it isn't new--the Nixon Doctrine was a similar reaction in regard to the Vietnam War) is refusing to take the lead in fighting our enemy when our allies are not up to the task.

That's not a doctrine. That's an aversion.

And keep in mind that for all that the left likes the ideals of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) that obliges us to protect innocent civilians, letting a war drag on simply means that for every American life saved, hundreds if not thousands of foreign civilians are allowed to die at the hands of undefeated enemies.

Mind you, I'm not inherently against that kind of math. Our military is supposed to defend America. But I'm not the sensitive caring sort that so many on the left pride themselves as uniquely being.

If protecting Iraqi lives (and preventing deaths in America and France, truth be told) was important, we could have committed a few combat brigades to Iraq to spearhead the offensives to clear Anbar and Mosul of ISIL forces long before Iraqi forces could be trained to do it with coalition air power in support.

Apart from Iraqi interests in liberating their terrain, we had an interest in defeating ISIL quickly. Given time, ISIL has expanded across the globe, planning or inspiring attacks around the globe--most infamously in France and America.

And oh yeah, with a proto-caliphate and Saddam's boys to help, ISIL has developed chemical weapons:

The Islamic State has used chemical weapons, including chlorine and sulfur mustard agents, at least 52 times on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq since it swept to power in 2014, according to a new independent analysis.

See the article for a map of attack sites.

Even after the caliphate is smashed, ISIL will have the knowledge of chemical weapons production and usage which might come in handy in terror attacks in other countries.

That is what happens when you give an enemy time. They use it. We spent nearly as much time preparing for the march north to Mosul as we did in preparing to launch the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied France following the Pearl Harbor attack by Japan that brought America into World War II.

Perhaps this will all work out well and the damage of giving ISIL so much time won't be as much as the damage to America of directly intervening.

But even if this works out fine, the lesson isn't that we can always find allies willing to fight and die for our objectives--and do it in a timely manner.

I mentioned this not long ago, and the article above is more than a month old, but the warning justifies repeating.