President Obama has announced his plan to “degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.*” This is much the same approach the United States has taken in the Middle East for decades. Air strikes against specific targets, arm the in-theater forces friendly to us and work through a coalition with other nations in the region.
Through horrific videos and social media postings, ISIS has thumped its chest by sending threatening messages to the West, particularly the United States and Great Britain. It’s far past the time when we send our own message to these savages.
The President says the United States will put no troops on the ground, leaving the combat to national forces likely unable to meet the fury of a terrorist militia. Further, this policy is coming from a president that is not respected by those who are supposed to be our allies. President Obama has shown little sympathy for Israel and even dismissed ISIS following the beheading of journalist James Foley. There can be no doubt that terrorist groups and other bad actors have become much more active and brazen since Barack Obama took office. He and the United States have no bona fides in the Middle East. In fact, President Obama has no credibility with his own military. I will offer my own educated opinion that the Intelligence Community is equally disenchanted with the President’s choices.
What we can do is stop ISIS’s momentum, eradicate its leadership and shut down its resources. This cannot be accomplished by air strikes and pale international pacts. History is smothered in examples of failed diplomacy in the Middle East. Forget coalitions with Arab countries. Previous such alliances have ultimately failed and have been fraught with debilitating concessions. We usually find ourselves allying with former foes and fighting forces to whom we had previously given support, including weapons, training and intelligence. And after our “intervention,” the weasels pop back up out of their holes and resume that which we were “committed” to stop.
And what of our coalitions with countries in the region? These have historically been laughable and pathetic. Today’s ally is tomorrow’s enemy and even that ally of today is likely quietly supporting those we are trying to defeat. The fact is that the Arab states have been ineffective at subduing or tamping the radicals that threaten not only the region, but civilization, all in the name of their shared religion. Since Muslim countries cannot (or will not) police bad behavior, we must do so, not for their sake, but for ours.
So, rather than do the same old thing with the same old result, we should engage a new strategy. More effective than that offered by President Obama would be a combined, synchronized series of strategic covert operations with Special Forces from the United States, England, France and Israel, countries currently most affected and threatened by Islamic terrorists. As both military units and “undercover” operatives, these specialists would be inserted with the freedom and sanction to do whatever is necessary to marginalize and dismember ISIS and its supporters.
Using coordinated infiltration of U.S. (Seals, Delta Force, Marine Corps Force Recon and Army Special Forces), British (SAS), Israel (Sayeret and Mista’arvim) and France (COS) supported by intelligence counter-measures and human intelligence (mostly Israeli Mossad), these forces would target and eliminate ISIS leadership and key tactical components. These units would also be able to cut communications, destroy munitions and other supply caches and disrupt supply and reinforcement lines.
But this would not just be about death and destruction. Special Ops troops would also be able to capture enemy combatants for interrogation (“enhanced” if needed) and secure intelligence data from computers, phones and documents. As much respect as I have for American combat aviators, they can’t do that from aircraft firing missiles.
Such a devastating “phantom menace” would also demoralize many of ISIS followers. By brutalizing terrorists from within, while they sleep, as they eat or otherwise feel comfortable, their confidence would be crushed. We kill them in their beds before they kill us in ours. For uneducated and undisciplined semi-soldiers, lack of confidence is more dangerous than a live mortar round.
Nothing we or anyone else can or will do will completely remove the evil of Islamic terrorism. It will, like the KKK and Nazis, exist as long as there are people who hate and others for them to hate. But President Obama’s stated approach is no solution either long or short-term. And though we cannot eradicate ISIS, we can act in such a way as to cause them great and vicious harm while alerting them and all other comers that we are through playing the usual games.
We will not talk. We will not negotiate with savages or ask permission of complacent countries. We will be neither slow to respond nor restrained in our response. We will visit you where you live and operate and we will kill you. Because when it comes to the security of our nation and that of our trusted allies, we will withhold no means of destruction from those who threaten that security.
Winston Churchill knew the rigors of fighting evil. In the struggle for what is right he famously said:
You ask, “What is our policy?’”I will say; “It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.’”You ask, “What is our aim?’”I can answer with one word: Victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.
*ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria because the group’s territory straddles the border between the two counties. ISIL stands for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The Levant is the historic name given to the entire region east of the Mediterranean from Egypt, east to Iran and to Turkey. U.S. officials use ISIL instead of ISIS to emphasize the group’s goal to expand its influence beyond the borders of Syria and Iraq.