President Barack Obama’s declaration Monday that it would be a “mistake” to inject American ground troops into the fight against the Islamic State is confirmation that he doesn’t understand how to defeat terrorism.
The president is trying to push back against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria with airstrikes and providing training for soldiers in those countries. While pleasing to pacifists and Americans weary of the Middle East wars, Obama’s “war light” strategy is failing.
The Islamic State is spreading its barbarous reach well beyond the borders of Iraq and Syria, as the people of Paris, Lebanon and Turkey painfully know. The terror group, in fact, has stated that it will attack the United States and other countries targeting its forces from the air in Syria.
One of the lessons of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was that air power – even massive air power – alone won’t defeat a determined, ideologically driven enemy. As military experts point out, you need sufficient ground troops to corral the enemy and then decimate its personnel and materiel with airstrikes.
The Islamic State must be physically defeated and chased to the end of the earth. That is because there is no way to convince them to put down their assault rifles and grenades, nor any way to convince them to stop blowing themselves up in markets, theaters or anywhere else people gather.
The territories controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are near those countries’ highway systems. The group doesn’t have an air force; instead it fights out of trucks and other vehicles it scrounges. With troops on the ground backed by the best air force in the world, a U.S.-led delegation of ground troops can force it to retreat and regroup. When that happens, the Islamic State will be a sitting duck.
Yes, we recognize that the group will rebound or some new offshoot will surface. When that happens, the U.S. and other military powers must be willing to take them on immediately.
Obama’s biggest failure in the Middle East is ignoring the fact that when a nation goes to war, it must deliver a full effort. Otherwise, it best to stay out of the battle completely. You don’t wage war halfway.
French President Francois Hollande got it right when he said that his country was committed to “destroying” the Islamic State after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris. France then backed that tough talk by bombing extremist strongholds in Syria.
A sign of strong leadership is having the courage to admit failure and adjust plans. Obama, however, seems determined to stick with his losing strategy against ISIS. Not surprisingly, he is now losing the support of members of his own political party.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for more American ground troops in the fight against the Islamic State during a Monday appearance on MSNBC.
“I have never been more concerned,” said Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I read the intelligence faithfully. (The Islamic State) is not contained, (it) is expanding.”
It is clear that Feinstein has a better handle on the Islamic State than our president.