Declaring War on ISIS without Making War In Iraq or Syria
Put that way it sounds silly. I mean isn’t ISIS simply IN various parts of Iraq and Syria and wouldn’t US involvement in something like an all out attack on ISIS mean intervening in any number of civil wars? Well that depends on how smart your lawyers are (and I am only kind of smart and not a lawyer at all). But let me float a trial balloon (one fully equiped with Hellfire Missiles and Special Forces assault teams).
One. There is such a thing as the self-proclaimed Islamic State. And this sovereign state does have existing if fluid borders, that is there are parts of the territory of pre-existing states like Iraq and Syria that are now not under the physical and military and administrative control of those states. To that degree there is in fact an independent territorial based Islamic State. Moreover this IS has in very explicit fashion declared war on the United States, most recently be executing a U.S. citizen and threatening the same against his compatriot.
Which leads to this perhaps counterintuitive suggestion. Declare war on ISIS while simply allowing any territory gained in that military effort to simply be reabsorbed by the former state actors who held it. That is simply regarding any territory held by ISIS to not actually be in Iraq or Syria while allowing any and all claims to territory liberated from ISIS to revert to the states which formerly and still formally claim it. And this latter move could be itself justified by simply refusing to commit ‘boots on the ground’ to actually taking that territory as opposed to the deployment of targeted ground assaults within the territory currently controlled by the Islamic State. That is the U.S. would commit to the destruction and dismemberment of the IS while not formally taking control of any part of it. And by that token never actually waging war in ‘Iraq’ OR ‘Syria’.
Maybe this is too clever by half to be workable. But what it would conceptually do is convert ISIS into the Cheshire Cat state, simply vanishing as every piece of it is dismantled around it. Leaving nothing but the dream of a Caliphate (and being realistic an ongoing terroristic threat to both the restored Iraqi and Syrian States and the West at large).
The main conceptual difference between this effort and the Second Iraq War is that the U.S. by and large wouldn’t own the Pottery Barn where the breakage occured. Because by donning the proper set of logical blinders we could make the case that we weren’t ‘really’ engaged in war on current Iraqi or Syrian soil. And if those state actors had a beef with us waging war on what they consider to be their sovereign territory the U.S. answer would be simple: “Okay take back that territory an inch and a mile at a time and raise your own flag over the liberated cities and villages”. Because if that village or region or province is no longer under IS control it would not be at war with the U.S. And as such there would perhaps not ever be such a thing as the “U.S. Occupation of the Islamic State”.
I am not saying there would not be complications. After all the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after WWI delivered us right into WWII via the new Balkan States and even more so into the current I-P mess verging on horror, the ‘War to End All Wars’ is maybe the most ironic slogan ever invented. Still it is clear that the U.S. needs to put paid to ISIS while having some plausible deniability of actually occupying parts of war torn Iraq and Syria. And simply defining the Islamic State as being such and so a proper and plausible target of a Constitutional Declaration of War seems a reasonable way of slicing the logical knot here.
How about the USA declare peace with the middle east. All interventions have only made our position and desires weaker since the 70s.
Or declare war on all religious leaders who call for violence regardless of nation state they reside and simply murder them with drowns like we do with other terrorist at this time in our history.
Think about what our political class is trying to sell right now to sell flacking which will only destroy the water tables in the USA. When the truth of the matter there’s plenty of energy (oil & gas). The shortages are caused not because of supply but because of embargos of the political classes trying to cause trouble in another nation state.
smart enough. and too clever by half as you say.
if there is a need… and there may be… we’ll do what needs to be done, and the other folk with say what they will say, logic be damned.
we’d do better… if there is a need… to work at getting some consensus… it should be easy… that ISIS is “worse than hitler.” That worked for Bushes one and two.
Lincoln had a similar problem.
Don’t kid yourself about the not taking territory dodge. Organizing boots on the ground to attack other forces on the ground requires logistics, staging areas and the like. You are advocating a ground war. Legalities to one side (the U.S. doesn’t seem to worry about war declarations these days) I doubt the citizens of the U.S.are willing to support a new military slog through the mideast.
I have to wonder what the citizens will support and whether it matters anymore.
Just to fulfill my new role as “contrarian” i also have to wonder if ISIS represents a strategic threat to US. My guess is probably the same as yours: “probably not” and whatever we do against it will be held against us by the rest of the world. but… and i get all my news from the unbiased US press… they seem to be such terrible bad guys, maybe we need to do what the Romans do’d.
When the Romans overextended themselves, the result was not good.
of course a lot of what they did without being overextended wasn’t good either. and you arguably speak a language more like latin than celtic.
and live in a culture more Roman than barbarian… to the extent that Romans were not barbarian.
A point I tried to make on another thread that seemed to irritate people was that empires have no choice but to overextend themselves. on the principle that it’s a dog eat dog world. you are going to be eaten sooner or later. later is better.
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“and live in a culture more Roman than barbarian… to the extent that Romans were not barbarian.” Coberly
And what extent is that? It’s best to recognize that in regards to wars between large groups whether national, racial or religious, the other group is always the barbarians.
Maybe the best approach would be to get to the root of the middle east religious strife issue. There’s an interesting take on the issue in today’s NY Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/23/opinion/isis-atrocities-started-with-saudi-support-for-salafi-hate.html?ref=opinion&_r=0 by a fellow named Ed Husain, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a senior adviser to the Tony Blair Faith Foundation. His pedigree looks a bit biased to me, but his opinion piece puts the issue in a more detailed light. There is a reason radicals in the world think radical thoughts and behave badly. I keep seeing references to Saudi Arabia’s leadership in the exportation of radical ideas and the financial support of those who want to put those ideas into practice. Cut the money flows and things might change. Also, cut the arms flow and things will change. Are we to believe that in this day and age the flow of major arms can’t be identified?
Also, I’ve read in several sources over the past few weeks that ISIS has taken over oil fields and oil refining plants. These reports suggest that ISIS gains significant income flows from this source. That can’t be embargoed? How difficult can it be to identify where the oil starts and where it goes? There are too many unanswered questions in regards to the madness in the middle east. Undoubtedly there are hidden agendas all over the place and on all sides. Don’t look for a secession of the warfare any time soon.
I agree with you.
But as you say, don’t look for honesty on any side soon.
As for barbarian… well, crucifying people was barbaric, and JC was not the only one so tortured to death. But the Romans thought of themselves as civilized and all the others… except maybe the Greeks… as barbarians. all I was saying is that have a lot more in common with the Romans than we do with the people they called barbarians… including our own ancestors if we are related to the “original” inhabitants of the British isles.
meanwhile, of course, the US is no stranger to treating human beings barbarically… so my point is not so much about “barbarians” as “bad people” but simply as to the “benefits of empire” if you are on the big guy’s side.
me, i am no admirer of American or British atrocities, but if what i think i know is true, all in all, i’d rather … so far … be the beneficiary of the Brit-American empire than the subject of any of the other empires i have heard about.
we do, i think, have an opportunity to be less barbaric, and less stupid, than previous empires.. but we started to blow that in Vietnam and keep looking for more opportunities to prove that power corrupts.
Coberly, I think you replied to a poster with a name similar to mine. I don’t disagree with either of you. I might pick a few nits with you about the antecedents to our language which seems to contain lots of German, French, and other sources as well as Latin. It’s said to be one of the most difficult for non English speakers to learn.
I agree: get out of Iraq, allow Iraq to evolve to: a Shiite section aligned with Iran (oh no! one of the PNAC phony axis of evil), a Kurd section (oh no! make Turkey mad, while Turks facilitate the Sunni mess in Iraq and Syria) and leave the Sunni sector to the Sunnis (Saudis and Emirates would still use them to war on Shi’a).
The problem with thumping ISIS is they are entwined with the Sunni in Iraq, and the anti Baathist Sunni in Syria. It is not so simple as taking Ike’s strategy to destroy the Wehrmacht or US Grant’s grabbing the Army of northern Virginia and destroying it. ISIS (and several score ‘moderate pretenders’ waiting to fill their role) is joined at the hip with Sunni interests in the “Levant” and we get back to doing the VC by doing their roots, which is 34% of the population of what was Iraq.
The chest thumpers in the pentagon and the PNAC right wing are the perpetual war profiteering crowd. They want a return to $15B a month forever to perpetually thump ISIS and the Sunnis whom they profess are the oppressed in Iraq’s Frankenstein parliament……………………….!
Were I not a pacifist (reformed nuclear warrior), I would suggest rolling out the nuclear cannons and small bombs with those neutron rounds………………………….
you are correct about my confusing you with Jack… you look so much alike.
but i did say “speak a language more like Latin than Celtic.”
As for learning to speak it…. hell, I haven’t managed it yet.
as far as I can tell I agree with you too. can’ we all just get along?
but who are you going to nuke?
I just read in a book that the Palestinians are in fact the descendants of the ancient Hebrews… they changed their religion when the Arab conquerors offered them a tax break. And of course they learned the language of the conquerors, as people do. but “racially” they appear to be more jewish than the jews.
what does this have to do with anything? nothing, except how are you going to sort it out if even they dont know who they are?
it is easy for me to want to go and rescue the victims of whichever bad guys are in the ascendancy… but it often seems that when the tables are turned the former victims become the new bad guys, so maybe it is best to leave them sort it out.
on the other hand, when they do sort it out, they are going to own a lot of oil, and they might not be nice about sharing… even selling. and since we went to a lot of trouble to keep Hitler from owning that oil, maybe we figure this is just a little preventive maintenance.
again, the opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the author.
Coberly, one thing we can depend on is whether religious or political poverty is not part of the plan.
The oil will be sold. Even today with embargos it has never stopped flowing. Oil flow is interrupted only when some strong man thinks he is not getting his share.
Oil revenues are the foundation of most quasi non state terrorism.
Neutron nuke, anyone who comes into view of the oil centers in the Persian Gulf after US forces have pushed out the sheiks. The techies are mostly US and Brits.
Should have been done in 1974.
This URL was posted by Roland, and gives a good history of the Middle East problems. Which seem to mick those of Christianity when the Catholic Church was imperial law giver in Europe.
i think my point was that when some “country” controls all the mideast oil, not only will American companies lose their profits, but it may not be possible for the rest of us to simply buy the oil from the new owners… because one of those “strong men” will arise and want to use it for conquest or blackmail or whatever it is that strong men think about.
as for religion… it is true they have always been used as excuses to kill people, but i am not just certain that is the fault of “religion” as much as it is the “strong men” who know how to use people’s superstition to get them to do the strong man’s killing for them.
similarly for poverty. once, it appeared that there was not enough to go around, so the “strong” appropriated it and left the weak in poverty. now, i suspect the strong understand that poverty is part of what it takes to keep the weak weak… so they’ll light a fifty dollar cigar with a hundred dollar bill in front of your face while your children are starving.