Some people advocate the use of large numbers of US troops — “boots on the ground” — to punish and destroy ISIS without delay. Especially because ISIS disgustingly beheads Americans, they react emotionally and impulsively (and foolishly), as though they’ve been challenged in a Hollywood western bar room.
Why send large numbers of our troops to the Middle East? Even if we win battles and wars, lose American lives, and maintain the necessary troop presence for years after, we will automatically lose the larger conflict.
We’ll lose because good Muslims who accept our current involvement in the Middle East — as advisers on the ground and attackers from the air — will be intensely offended by the presence of Western armies on soil they view as sacred. Consequently, even more Muslims will want to “punish America.”
To contain and destroy ISIS, a better solution is: Muslim nations, with the ISIS threat in their own “backyards,” must put their own boots on their own ground. As President Obama has said, that will take diplomacy, patience and time. And yes, “leading from behind” — exactly the wisdom and strategy required by the situation.
Henry D. Friedman