Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Loser By Any Other Name

If you think about American foreign policy the first thing that generally comes to mind is the ongoing war in Iraq…specifically the fight against ISIS. So it came as quite a shock when the president announced in a matter of fact manner: “We don’t yet have a complete strategy against ISIS.”

The president went on to clarify his comment stating the reason that we don’t have a “complete strategy” is because the key components lie in the hands of our partners in the region and are dependent upon the degree to which they are willing to participate in the campaign. As such the president referred to the “strategy” as a “work in progress.”

As you might imagine a statement by the country’s Commander-in-Chief regarding the lack of a strategy in an ongoing military conflict left the war hawks apoplectic. Senator McCain almost had a stroke. Clarifying comments notwithstanding, the president’s detractors in congress view his comments as further evidence of both a failed Middle East policy and personal incompetence. Never mind that they have failed to perform their constitutional duties in authorizing a war that has been raging for 10 months.

The Defense Department stepped in and tried to clean up the mess saying the president made the honest mistake of confusing the country’s “strategy” with its “plan.” We have a “plan” to defeat ISIS” said a pentagon spokesperson.” “We are still working out the details of a strategy.”

“Strategy”…”Plan”…whatever! Call it what you will it is doomed to failure.

The reclaiming of the Iraqi city of Ramadi by ISIS forces has the White House and the DOD in a tither. The president is expected to announce today that the latest strategy/plan is to insert in an additional 500 US troops near Ramadi to act as “trainers” for Iraqi government forces. The problem with this “training” strategy/plan is that it is reliant on support from the Sunnis. However the Sunnis, distrustful of the sitting Shia led government…are sitting on their hands. A thousand years of violent conflict doesn’t go away just because we wish it so. One thing the White House and its detractors can agree on is that any successful “strategy/plan” in the region is critically dependent upon the support and participation of the Sunnis.

ISIS, like Al Qaeda, is just another cockroach to crawl out from under the woodwork. You can crush it but another will quickly take its place. The only “winning strategy” in the Middle East is indefinite occupation by an overwhelming force.

Or is that a “plan”?

“Strategy” or “Plan” it’s a loser by any other name.

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