Today, as is often the case, I will write about a topic I do not understand. You don’t need to remind me of that fact in the comments. But I do enjoy learning, so educate me if you need to.
Now let’s get to it…
ISIS continues to gain ground and no one, including the United States military, has any practical option for stopping it.
So what would you do if you were in charge of creating U.S. strategy?
In my 2004 book, The Religion War, I predicted the rise of the Caliphate and the inability of the major powers to control it. In that story, the solution involved putting a wall around the Caliphate and cutting it off from the world before “depopulating” it. That isn’t a practical plan at the moment, but I am sure it will come to that when ISIS drones start attacking the U.S. Mainland. (I wrote the book as a prediction.)
At the moment, ISIS seems to me like a problem for Iran and Saudi Arabia to solve. The U.S. gains by staying in the fight on some modest level, but mostly to increase influence, improve intelligence assets, kill some high-profile bad guys, and generally understand the area better. “Winning” isn’t one of the likely outcomes.
The big problem that ISIS has going forward is that they have no air force, no superpower allies, and an entire world that wants them dead. Once they set up a more conventional government to run the Caliphate, all they will be doing is building targets that will disappear about the same time the punch lists are finished.
I think the likely outcome of ISIS is that it will give all the players in the Middle East, plus the United States, a common enemy for a change. So as long as ISIS is contained, and there is plenty of oil from other sources, the United States might come out ahead.
Call me an optimist, but something about the ISIS situation looks like a step in the right direction for the rest of the world because it will turn traditional state enemies into frenemies. And that probably reduces the odds of, for example, Iran trying to nuke anyone. You nuke your enemies, maybe, but probably not your frenemies.
So my suggestion for dealing with ISIS is to let them win ugly (with plenty of losses) and then let them fail as a state, once you wall it off. And perhaps you let that play out over thirty years.
ISIS makes a great bogey man.
Let’s hear your plan.