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04 February 2015


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The Twisted Genius

For starters, I'd like to see Obama announce that the U.S. will no longer stand in the way of those who take on IS. That means lifting sanctions on Iran, Syria, Hizbollah and all manner of Kurds. We should, at the same time, announce that those who stand in the way of those taking on IS will be the subject of a policy review that could lead to a withdrawal of support and the imposition of sanctions. That means Israel and Turkey at the very least.I consider this a minimal, almost passive, step. Sort of a "do no harm" approach.



Do you think contemporary US politics would allow for rapprochement with Syria and Iran as well as Hezbollah?

There certainly will be much cognitive dissonance considering the demonization propaganda that has taken place over decades.And how would our fifth column of Israel Firsters respond?

It seems unless Syria is actively engaged,short of a massive US ground force there is not much chance of taking ground. What happens then with respect to holding ground with an IS insurgency if they continue to have an organizational ability?,


Jordan is fragile, with a growing jihadist insurgency among both the urban population (Muslim Brotherhood) and bedouins (more hardcore ISIS, Al Qaeda). Jordan must be secured for the sake of the entire region, and Col. Lang is absolutely right to call for a genuine fighting coalition to do the job, possibly including US ground forces. But the regional component is existential if there is to be success.

After President Obama's race to Riyad (cutting short an important visit to India, and leaving a needlessly bad impression with the Indian government on several accounts, including his public attack on Hindu nationalism, an obvious swipe at Modi), I am not confident he will do what Col. Lang correctly proposes: a common interest alliance of all those who genuinely want to destroy IS. I don't count Saudi Arabia on that list, or Turkey, or Israel for that matter. That could change with a genuine committment from Washington, including the lifting of sanctions on Iran, the end of the "Assad must go" rhetoric. Failure to act in a timely fashion can jeopardize Jordan and that has a spreading chaos potential. Now, with the executions of the two IS terrorists in retaliation for the burning to death of the Jordanian pilot (from a prominent tribe), it can be expected that IS will escalate recruitment and terror operations in Jordan. Time is wasting to do the right thing. This blog is a perfect place to launch a full debate on this vital proposal and to further flesh out details of how to go about it right away.


I don't think siding with Shiite extremists who are just as brutal as IS is a good idea for the West. By supporting them and their Iranian masters, you are forcing Sunni tribes to support IS when they would rather fight them.

The Beaver


have you seen this:
{When asked by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) if ISIS was the greatest threat in the Middle East Carter said there was a dual threat to the region posed by both ISIS and Iran. "I hesitate to say ISIL only, because in the back of my mind is Iran, as well, ” said Carter. "So I think that we have two immediate, substantial dangers in the Middle East. One is [ISIS] and one is Iran.”}

Richard Armstrong

The Australian author John Birmingham foretold of large scale conflict between a caliphate and the west in his alternate history series The Axis of Time.

In it commanders were empowered under Multinational Force Sanction Four to perform what were essentially drums head trials of captured prisoners who had committed war crimes. These prisoners were summarily executed.

These were belligerents captured on the battlefield, not individuals where had the misfortune of being falsely accused in return for reward money.

Given the extremely radical nature of IS what do the members of this committee think of this idea?

The Moar You Know

Agree with one caveat: in order for this to happen and work, the contingent (McCain/Graham) that keeps yelling for Assad to go needs to shut the hell up. Sometimes you have to pick the SOB that you're able to deal with. We can live with Assad. We can't live with these IS folks, and they've made it quite clear that they've no intention of living with us.

Also, you'll never get our fine Congress to agree to sanction Israel, so we're just going to have to work around them.

joe brand

Politically, there's no possibility at all that we're going to "get on with it." The President just said this in his state of the union speech:

"In Iraq and Syria, American leadership -- including our military power -- is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group. (Applause.) We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism."

And, later:

"The American people expect us only to go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom."

He has decided that real war is behind us, and that he ended war with the force of his personality. Putting real force on the ground would destroy his idea of himself.


João Carlos

Sadly, IMHO the text bellow show us that the opportunity will be lost:http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2015/02/why-did-isis-kill-the-jordanian-pilot.html

... and McCain and the Neocons are trying to blame Syria for it? Craziness... craziness at both sides....


joe brand

I am telling you what should be done. pl

Dave Schuler

"this war will last a long, long time"

Pat, what are the implications of a protracted war against ISIS? Given past history I think that domestically it means the U. S. loses interest. What are the implications in the region? Do the various regimes try to accommodate ISIS? Do they forge an alliance against a common enemy? Do they retreat to their villas in the south of France?


There is no need for Western troops on the ground. Forget Congress, selling the idea of Western troops in Syria after what the West has done to the country would by itself be a struggle.

In fact, if the US wanted to really fight ISIS it would start with the royal families of Saudi and Qatar and threaten to withdraw protection if they didn't stop spreading their hateful theology - But if the attacks on the US on September 11th were not enough I dont really see how ISIS's action would be - Unless of course they ever threatened Israel (when they aren't too busy being treated in Israeli hospitals that is).
Secondly, the West can stop this ridiculous charade of training and arming "moderates" (moderates who have done exactly what was done to the Jordanian pilot to Syrian soldiers) to fight Assad and allow the Syrian Army and Hizballah to concentrate on one front. But again, the goal here is to weaken the "Resistance Axis". If Assad joined hands with Saudi tomorrow and stood against Iran and Hizballah the war would be over in a week.

But then there are still people who foolishly claim that "Shiite extremists..are just as brutal as IS", unable to differentiate either history, strategy or methodology from anyone that opposes hegemony in the region.



"If Assad joined hands with Saudi tomorrow and stood against Iran and Hizballah the war would be over in a week." Please explain what you are saying. pl


Dave Schuler

"domestically it means the U. S. loses interest." Yes. That is why this must be handled quickly. Saudi Arabia is very vulnerable to subversion by jihadi groups. IF the present wretched SA government "goes" the game goes with it. IMO the Arabs, Kurds and Iranians cannot muster the strength to destroy IS/Nusra without Western "stiffening." pl

Charles I

When pigs fly, we just got to the point where Hamas is Hezbollah and vice versa.


If Ashton Carter wants the position he must agree with McCain. Hence current statements should be heavily discounted.

the Unready

Jordan has been facilitating the rebellion in Syria for a number of years, due to internal and external pressures.
Are they now going to curtail this support and bolster the Syrian government or double down and support the FSA, in defiance of the Syrian government, in order to take the fight to Isis? Apparently the FSA helped the Kurds to retake Kobane. The unicorns are the only politically palatable option at the moment..



In this case the best place to defend America is on someone else's real estate. How many more Tsarnaev's do we need here or ISIL supporters in the MEA?

FB Ali

Such a coalition would indeed be a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, it just can't happen.

There is the Shia-Sunni divide, that shows no signs of mending. There's the US antipathy towards Syria and Iran (even if the administration tries to modify that posture, Congress and Israel would stop any substantive steps). Jordan is dependent on the Saudis (and Israel); it can't drop its hostility to Assad (as can't Turkey). The Sunni populations of these countries are 'wobbly' (however bellicose their leaders may be). The UAE air force has already pulled out.

And then there is the issue of US and Western troops operating in the region. Ever since the Bush-Cheney wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Western troops operating in Muslim lands create serious problems. Sure, they'll destroy any who dare oppose them, but what then?

IS and AQ are the result of such interventions. As are the broad anti-West feelings in these lands. What does the West do after its victory? Permanently occupy the region? Pull out and wait for the next lot of jihadis to rise?

joe brand

Col. Lang,

I agree with you about what should be done, and understand the seriousness of your experience on the topic, but we seem to be very much adrift at the top. It seems like it will all still need to be done one day, but on a far greater scale because of the length of our neglect.


Presumably, retreating to villas in the south of France would have been simpler before jihadis with European passports found their way to Syria.

It seems imprudent to suppose at this point that the south of France will remain safe indefinitely if ISIS is not eradicated.

Abu Sinan

I would also say the same goes globally, not just in Iraq and Syria. We should support groups like the Houthis who are willing, and have, taken the fight to takfiriyeen. The short shortsightedness of standing against anything which might be remotely connected with Iran is nonsense. That is not our fight that we are waging, it is an Israeli fight that we should remove ourselves from.

C Webb

Since the US war machine is big and heavy on juice ($/Energy).

Once troops have been deployed, what is to prevent IS dissolving into the population, surrounding countries or returning to their european sanctuaries?

...Then 6mths later....similar situation reoccurs somewhere else.

Babak Makkinejad

I am not sure.

He is stating US Government policy publicly.

It very much reminds me of late 1939 when the Imperial General Staff's war plans still called for a war with USSR.


Who's your "spiritual master" Auralian?

No doubt Barry McCaffery's biographical Wikipedia.link is interesting.

Devide and conquer?

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