Tuesday, September 23, 2014

America At War Again!

Last night the United States went to war in yet another Middle East country. This time it is Syria that is feeling the wrath of America’s military might, as bombs rain down on ISIS targets in the city of Raqqa. This president, who once promised to end our country’s “endless war footing”, has committed the country to another seemingly endless conflict.

To his credit the president understood that any hope of a long term positive outcome in the war against ISIS rested on his ability to cobble together a broad coalition of regional partners. Arabs fighting Arabs is the only way this works. His deliberative, some say professorial, effort toward building that coalition has been ridiculed by those who would prefer to bomb first and ask questions later. But the president’s patience appears to have borne fruit. Early reports indicate that Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates joined US forces in last nights’ air strikes.

The timing of this military strike is noteworthy. Tomorrow the president will address the United Nations’ General Assembly. He will make the case that ISIS is a global threat to all peace loving people. His goal will be to broaden the coalition of the willing by convincing the doubters to join the cause. One hundred forty heads of state will be in attendance.

I for one am still skeptical of our involvement in what is a centuries old Sunni versus Shia civil war. ISIS is nothing more than another terrorist faction born from that civil unrest. The USA is nothing more than a lightning rod whose very name breeds anger among the Muslims. I'll say it again...Arabs fighting Arabs is the only way this works. ISIS will eventually fall. I expect another terrorist faction will rise up to take its’ place. Therefore the yet to be answered question is what happens next? What happens after ISIS is defeated. Until that riddle is solved, a victory over ISIS is but “one small step for mankind.”

I give credit to the president for building his coalition. A broad coalition of Arab partners is the key not only to defeating ISIS but to a long term peaceful solution in the region. I question how long the coalition will hold together. If the president stays true to his refusal to commit large numbers of US troops to the fight; then this will be a long drawn out process.

This much is certain; however long our Arab partners remain in the fight they will have demonstrated far more courage than our elected leaders on the Hill. While American soldiers and their Arab partners put their lives at risk, our fearless elected leaders hide in their districts; afraid to utter a sentence that might hurt their chances for re-election.

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