Monday, May 25, 2015

After Ramadi, the US must be honest about its goals | Hussein Ibish - The National

The Isis Conundrum

ISIS wields state power in much of Syria and Iraq.  They have land, cash, natural resources, ideology, and a highly motivated and effective army.

In 2003 the United States firmly cast its lot with the pro-Iranian Shiites of Iraq. The delusion or worse of the Bush administration and its echoes (like Thomas Friedman) was that we were going to democratize Iraq,with the rest of the Arab world to follow. But giving state power to one ethnic or tribal group is not a path to toleration with rare exception like the liberal and socialist internationalists of the African National Congress.

In Iraq the constitution imposed, drafted by well-meaning liberals like Noah Feldman, was not embraced for its toleration, but only for the opportunity to rule that the Shiites seized, and the thin hope of Sunnis that the new structure would protect them.
Contrary to American wishful thinking savage tribal warfare not tolerance followed. You remember the car bombs, the death squads, the drills into victims brains, the brutal prisons, et cetera. 

 As Seton Hall law professor Bernard Freamon demonstrated twelve years ago suicide bombing has no historic support in Islamic law.  In the Fordham International Law Journal he explained "current justifications for self-annihilatory violence are instead the result of a major reinterpretation of the theology and religious law on martyrdom and the military jihad advanced by Shi'ite theologians and jurists in Iraq and Iran between the mid-1960s and the late-1970s".  In Iraq, and in Palestine, that heresy took root with catastrophic effect.

Now the United States is confronted with a force that- because its tribal roots are deep - cannot be simply dismissed as terrorist or degraded by air power. -gwc
After Ramadi, the US must be honest about its goals | The National
by Hussein Ibish  (Ibish is a senior resident scholar at the Gulf Arab States Institute in Washington)

...a May 20 State Department background briefing was refreshingly frank and informative, and suggests that the setback in Ramadi may have shaken up at least parts of the Obama administration and prompted a greater willingness to publicly assess the difficulties and shortcomings of the campaign.
The unnamed senior State Department official identifies ISIL as “a formidable, enormous threat,” and says that it will take at least three years merely to “degrade” the group, let alone “destroy” it. The official admits the US government doesn’t know how many fighters ISIL has overall, or how many of them were deployed in overrunning Ramadi. And the official also admits, “you would have to be delusional not to take something like this [turn of events] and say, ‘What went wrong?’”
But, as military and security expert Anthony Cordesman has correctly noted, the coalition, and particularly the United States, have now reached a point in the struggle against ISIL “where more action is needed than simply addressing one defeat with a new degree of honesty and depth”.
The US and its partners are either going to have to start committing the kind of resources, and taking the kind of risks, necessary to inflict serious and sustained damage on ISIL, or publicly admit that the real policy is a containment strategy that accepts ISIL as a part of the Middle Eastern political landscape into the foreseeable future.

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