by Joe Shea
August 24, 2014
BRADENTON, Fla., Aug. 24. 2014 -- President Barack Obama is under pressure from all sides to formulate a response to the advance of the Isamic State known as ISIS as it struggles to create the Fifth Caliphate this reporter warned us about in 2009 (see "The War Against the Caliphate" on Google, in Arabic and English) and which now threatens all of the Middle East in the name of Islam.
The conundrum for Mr. Obama is that he doesn't want to send new combat troops to the Middle East, and the American public doesn't want him to, either; only a few GOP Neanderthals want our best and brightest young men and women back in harm's way. The thing they want the most is to be able to bash the President again and again for ineptitude, regardless of the truth and the circumstances.
At least one answer not now being considered in Washington is the interdiction by air strikes against key pathways - especially empty ones, which need to be mined - between Syria, Kurdistan and Iraq used now by ISIS to transport new troops, fresh supplies and stolen weaponry from one part of the vast inverted scimitar that extends from Syria across Iraq to Mosul and south to a few miles north of Baghdad,
At relatively little cost, the air strikes by U.S. fighters can make sure those pathways are so assuredly interrupted that ISIS cannot refresh its marauding head with nutrients - recruits, food and supplies - killing the slithering body that comes from the Iraqi west and dangles to Syria in the south.
That supply-line strategy is classic military strategy and would require only air support, not ground troops. The downside is political: there is no series of glorious victories or damaging defeats in this type of strategy, and for many Americans it may seem that the Administration is "doing nothing" to stop the approach of ISIS to Baghdad, the greatest prize available in this match. Chopping off a snake's tail won't keep its head from scaring you.
In turn, that sharpens the criticism that comes from an ignorant Congress, charging that Mr. Obama is overwhelmed and incapable of acting. In truth, he is very capable and far from overwhelmed, and while wise enough not to throw more troops into the fire he feels a small need to assure the American people that an invasion of America by ISIS - a consistent theme on Fox News and among the right-wing folks - will never occur, and that they will never take Baghdad.
Interdicting those strategic pathways to Baghdad is a continuous process, one that builds upon its successes with more successes, until ISIS is no more than a chopped-up worm that will never regenerate all its parts. These small and secondary victories won't produce headlines that validate the political end of the strategy, but they may produce the end of ISIS, surrounded by Shiite militia out of Baghdad and pesh merga forces out of Kurdistan.
Meanwhile, since it will othewrwise be impossible, the President should order the heavy weaponry already transferred to American communities, and what is still in the pipeline, transferred back to the Pentagon, refurbished and sent to the pesh merga, our most reliable bulwark against ISIS.
The President may not have realized it yet, but all that weaponry had a second purpose: arming police forces across the country against the reaction that might occur if conservatives carry out a coup d'etat in Washington. That move is increasinlgly on their mind, and the White House needs to take strategic steps to counter it. Turning our local police into combat-ready troops to support a coup was a key step in their strategy.
These days, it is becoming harder and harder to find ordinary Americans who do not have a deep, even angry contempt for the government of their own country - a government whose greatest fault may be its kindness and generosity to the poor, the elderly, the sick and helpless.
We can only hope that as Americans we can see through the anger and uncertainty to a free, united country that leads the world.