Congress returns to the Hill next week and one of the first things on its agenda will be a debate over the use of military force against ISIS. The president has asked congress to pass a resolution that would formally grant him the authority to use military force (AUMA) against ISIS. Congress is willing. The devil is in the details.
The drumbeat for war against ISIS is growing louder. Incensed by the graphic videos of beheadings and burnings the American people seem ready to re-engage. Recent polling shows a shift in the country’s attitude toward the use of military force with 57% of a once war weary nation now in favor putting boots on the ground. The president, who has consistently said that a military solution does not exist; seems to be changing his mind.
I believe that an American led military assault against ISIS would be a disaster. Here’s why.
The territorial boundaries that currently exist in the Middle East were drawn by colonial occupiers. Colonialism is dead but the subjugation of the masses prevalent in those days continues. Those in power rule with a strong oppressive hand; taking what they will while leaving little for the masses. Those who object are often dealt with in the harshest of terms. Divisions occur. Tribe against tribe…Sunni against Shia. The ruling class may change but oppression and the hatred remains the same.
In many instances the brutal rulers are backed by the United States. Sometimes US support comes in the form of payoffs by the billions. Sometimes support means simply looking the other way. The reasons may be varied but the results are the same. Tribe may hate tribe…Sunni may hate Shia…but they all find common ground in their hatred of The Great Satan...the most powerful colonial occupier in history. The United States support of Israel only serves to add fuel to their hatred.
The Arab Spring signaled a revolt by the masses against their oppressive rulers. It also signaled a revolt against the infidels that allowed the oppressors to remain in power. As the unrest gained momentum a host of militant sects entered the battle. ISIS is the most well organized, well-funded, of these militant groups. They are not the first…and they most certainly will not be the last.
The US cannot play a central role in the war against ISIS. There is no hope of a meaningful permanent solution if the battle is between the Arab world and the colonial infidel…the supporter of tyrants…the protector of the Zionist state. The US can broker deals between Arab nations…send in trainers and forward air support if necessary. But the war against ISIS must be led by the Arab states within the region. Only then is there any hope of victory.
The US has a long history of costly mistakes in the region. Iraq and Afghanistan were destroyed…to what end. The Taliban and Al Qaeda were vanquished…only to have the beast that is ISIS rise up in their place. ISIS can be defeated. But another militant sect will take its place unless a diplomatic solution can be found.
If US policymakers decide to take a central role once again they will drag the country down a long and costly path with no good ending.
If they bring colonialism back to the Middle East…they will own it for a very, very long time.