William Hamilton: Why ISIS has little to fear
September 18, 2014
Despite major media focus on Vladimir Putin, please note the United States has no vital interest in Ukraine, although, should Putin invade one of the NATO nations on Russia's perimeter, the U.S. could get roped into a war with Russia.
The radical Islamist armed forces generally known as ISIS are another matter. ISIS has the means, motive, and opportunity to be an even bigger threat to the U.S. than is al-Qaida.
ISIS stands for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. ISIL stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant. "Levant" is an archaic term used mainly by archeologists to describe the coastal area stretching from southern Turkey around to Egypt. "Levant" predates the 1948 creation of the State of Israel. People who use the term ISIL are either wittingly or unwittingly denying the existence of the State of Israel. President Obama uses ISIL. We report. You decide.
ISIS was created because Sunni Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf State monarchies, which are also Sunni, decided the Shia-based governments in Iraq and Iran, and President Bashar al-Assad's dictatorship in Syria, might become too powerful. Especially, if Iran became a nuclear power. Consequently, they gave millions of dollars to the initially rag-tag Sunni jihadists who have now become the Iraqi bank-robbing ($425 million), oil-rich ISIS.
The Law of Unintended Consequences is now biting the backsides of the Saudis and their fellow Sunni monarchies. The rich royals fear the Islamist zeal of ISIS might stir their local puritanical Wahhabi Sunnis to rise up in revolt, ending their royal lifestyles in the flesh pots of Europe. Ergo: the Saudi Royals and Gulf State monarchs want the United States to reign in ISIS — the monster they created. But that is not why the U.S. should defeat ISIS.
Following the very public beheading of two American journalists, President Obama — while leading from behind — is pleading with western Europeans to put boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria. Starting with banishing the bust of Sir Winston Churchill from the Oval Office, President Obama has taken almost every opportunity to annoy the British, our oldest ally. Don't look for any British boots. France might fly a few sorties, just to remind us of its former "gloire" in the Levant. Germany, not threatened by ISIS, is more concerned with Putin. Turkey, a NATO member, won't allow the U.S. to use Incirlik Airbase — leased from the Turks since 1954 — for lethal air strikes against ISIS in neighboring Iraq or Syria.
Successful combat leaders know you cannot lead from behind. Soldiers aren't stupid and don't move into harm's way unless their leaders will share the dangers and the hardships with them. Leading from the front seems foreign to a president with zero military experience and who won't even admit that ISIS is Islamic or that we are at war.
Can the U.S., acting alone, defeat ISIS? Yes; however, it requires frontal leadership, arming the Kurds, more aircraft carriers, fighter-bombers operating from Iraqi airbases, AAA suppression in Syria, AWACS support, refuel tankers, lots of special forces, forward air-controllers and military advisers on the ground and, maybe, some B-52 and B-2 strikes on ISIS concentrations inside Syria. Please, don't hold your breath.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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