The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


I have on numerous occasions suggested that any military action against Islamists in a Muslim country is like stepping neck deep into a cesspool. Even if the Islamists are defeated, the gains are temporary. The populace of the Muslim country seems unwilling and/or unable to (1) govern itself, (2) field an effective counter force to tamp down Islamists as they rekindle their fervor and their violence, and (3) build an ecomony that might cause the "Arab Street" to reject the nihilist tendencies of a Hamas or Hezballah or Boko Haram or al Qaeda or ISIL (the acronym has recently been changed from ISIS).

When Barack Obama pulled all of our military out of Iraq and purposely (in my view) failed to gain a status of forces agreement that would have allowed us to maintain bases, equipment, and personnel in that cesspool, there were many who cheered him on. Unfortunately, his decision was one of an unending string a bad foreign policy decisions that bowed to domestic politics but ignored the three points noted above. He set the stage for ISIL.

Now, after a year of dithering in which ISIL grew in strength, numbers and through conquest of an ineffective Iraqi army, equipment (ours), Barack Obama has decided to act ... well, sort of. Instead of authorizing an air campaign that would decimate ISIL forces and equipment, he has approved a small number of pin pricks and some (much needed) humanitarian aid for the beleaguered Yezhidis. Incredibly, he has not approved military aid for the Kurds, a steadfast US ally and the only people in the region that would fight ISIL and might possibly defeat them.

But why do anything, if you have to step back into the cesspool? Bobby Ghosh provides part of the answer:
For sheer, brutal efficiency, ISIL is several steps above Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram or even the Taliban. The closest analog I can think of is the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian movement that killed more than two million people in the mid-1970s. There was a reminder of those horrors this week, when two top Khmer Rouge leaders were finally sentenced for their crimes. In their remorseless advance through eastern Syria and northern Iraq, ISIL’s fighters have demonstrated the same iron will and discipline that Khmer Rouge deployed against the Cambodian army and the Cambodian people. In territory Al-Baghdadi controls, he uses the same tactics of intimidation and public punishment that Pol Pot used to cow his fellow Cambodians.

In its appetite for genocide, ISIL seems to borrow from Adolf Hitler’s Nazis. It, too, has identified for extermination entire categories of people. Its fighters have systematically rounded up groups of “unbelievers”—and remember, that can mean anybody, including their fellow Sunnis—and slaughtered them in a manner Heinrich Himmler would have approved of. If the disturbing photographs (and be warned, they are very disturbing) in this Washington Post story were in grainy black-and-white, they could have come from a Nazi death camp. And online videos of these mass killings clearly show the zealous glee with which the executioners go about the work.

That, then, is the nature of the monster on which the US is finally turning its guns. It will not die easily.
ISIL will die only if our military has a serious conversation with our feckless president and convinces him that pin pricks simply won't work. Air power, applied with brutal efficiency will degrade ISIL, and supplying weapons to the Kurds will help to decimate the group on the ground. In case after case, Obama's inaction has allowed bad things to become horrendous things—monstrous things.

ISIL is only the latest example. It must be stopped.