“And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for?”
~ Country Joe McDonald
So now the Obama Administration, which came into office promising
to “reset” relations with Russia and persuade Middle Eastern terrorists
to convert their weapons into plowshares, is taking the United States
Teed up is Syria, which is being overrun by numerous anti-state
fighters, and whose condition – that of a failed country – poses
a threat to U.S. and global security unseen since Afghanistan
was under Taliban rule.
Also inside American crosshairs is ISIS, the terrorist group
dominating headlines since it brutally killed American freelance
reporter James Foley and made, until U. S. Navy fighter planes
started bombing them, significant gains in Iraq.
Not only is ISIS so extreme it makes Al Qaeda look rational,
it’s also highly ambitious, with one member of its ranks saying his
organization won’t rest until its flag flies above the White House.[i]
Seriously, what’s a peace-leaving, smarter-than-you Democrat,
like Barack Obama, to do?
Easy – borrow from the playbook of every president since 1980,
maybe even earlier.
Sure, the White House diatribe sounds good. We’re going to bomb
ISIS wherever we find it. Our drones will fly over Syrian cities and
long stretches of Iraqi desert. If they lack sufficient capabilities to kill
terrorists and destroy weapons, no worry. Navy and Air Force jets
will be on call.
Parts of our Navy’s surface fleet might even get in on the action
by launching cruise missiles. Let’s also hope for numerous
opportunities to keep our elite, special forces on top of their
game with plenty of dangerous combat missions.
If only this war were the real thing and not a live-fire exercise.
It’s a few bombs here, a few bombs there, spiced with some
intoxicating, edge-of-the-seat, missions from Delta Force, the
Seals, maybe even the Green Berets.
But that’s where it stops.
A plausible case can be made that U. S. military operations in
World War II’s Pacific Theater could have come to halt once
Japan’s progress was stopped with two critical battles, Coral
Sea and Midway.
In Europe – for a few years at least – the fighting could have
been left to the Army Air Corps as it bombed factories, towns
and military installations in Nazi-occupied Europe and Germany.
That is, until their advance stopped and we figured out a time and
a place to work out a peace treaty with Berlin and, eventually,
And what would we be dealing with these many years later? The
fifth generation of Nazi leadership and the 21st century version
of Japan’s militarists!
And there’s the problem. President Obama has no more of
strategy to beat the terrorists, whether they’re ISIS, Al Qaeda or
anyone else – in other words, to solve the problem – than
President Johnson did for winning the Vietnam War.
Or than Jimmy Carter did for releasing our hostages in
Tehran. Or than President Reagan did for winning in Lebanon,
or than President George H. W. Bush did for eliminating
Saddam Hussein or than President Clinton did for outright
defeating Osama bin Laden.
And, frankly, blame can also be left with President George W.
Bush, whose two wars were left unfinished.
Come to think of it, had Presidents Truman and Eisenhower
fought for a victory in Korea, today we wouldn’t be contending
with the third generation of the family running North Korea.
So the question we need to ask – as posed by 1960s music star
Country Joe McDonald – is what are we fighting for? A total
elimination of the terrorists in Syria and Iraq or is Obama
creating a quagmire the next five to 10 generations of Americans
will deal with?
This same kind of thinking came from Martin Dempsey, the
U.S. military’s top officer.
“They can be contained (but) not into perpetuity,” he said,
referring to ISIS, during last week’s news conference.[ii]
Airstrikes can do so much, Dempsey said. They alone
cannot stop a determined force, like ISIS. What we need, the
general inferred, is a plan, something that includes all out
American force, both a military and diplomatic.
The President and his advisors need to craft a strategy similar
to what U. S. Army General Winfield Scott proposed at the
outbreak of the Civil War. Call it Operation Anaconda, just
like the general called his plan.
It would surround Syria and Iraq and, through airstrikes, special
operations and conventional infantry forces, destroy ISIS and
every other terrorist movement in those two countries, maybe
even Bashar al-Assad’s government.
In other words, we need to fight a real war with one objective
– total victory.
Then, of course, we’ll need something along the lines of a
Marshall Plan to win the peace.
If there’s anything President Obama should know, it’s
this: Failure to eliminate ISIS and restructure Syria and
Iraq will create more costly problems in the future, possibly
in American and allied lives.
Did you really think Obama was brighter than the rest?
“Don’t ask me why,
Don’t give a damn,
My next stop is Islam!”
~ with apologies to Country Joe