In fifty days of Gaza conflict, Israel launched 5500 precision air strikes against terror targets. In 70+ days, the US launched less than 500 air strikes in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. Why?
It’s not lack of planes and fire power. It’s a lack of political will, despite all the rhetoric of having to degrade and defeat the Islamic State rampage and mayhem.
Despite Obama’s late decision to launch air strikes he has only tickled the enemy. He could do more. He won’t. He doesn't want to. What is the reason for this procrastination?
Part of the reason for Obama’s reticence in attacking ISIS with more force seems to be contained in a think tank policy document he commissioned entitled “The Iran Project. Iran and its Neighbors. Regional Implications for US Policy of a Nuclear Agreement.”
Experts who signed off on this document include Thomas Pickering, Brent Scowcroft, Daniel Kurtzer, Nicholas Platt, and Zbigniew Brzezinski.
The document mistakenly sees the possibility of using ISIS to drive Iran and Israel closer together in a common cause. This misguided strategic fantasy is described thus, "If ISIS were to continue to progress, Israel and Iran might find themselves with a common enemy."
The dream of bringing Iran and Israel together seems so devoutly to be wished by the Obama Administration that it surmounts any political reality to facts on the ground.
Could this be the reason that America has not applied the full measure of air power at its disposal in killing and driving back ISIS?
If it is, it’s dangerous and false thinking. It appears as if the US president is cynically allowing thousands to be slaughtered in front of our eyes for a strategy that will never happen.
Does he, or his experts, really think that Iran and Israel will join his feckless coalition out of joint fear of ISIS? If so, he is dead wrong.
In contrast to President Obama’s recent statements, the document does call ISIS a state of sorts.
The only force that is bravely standing and confronting ISIS on the ground are the Kurds, and yet Obama is still not arming them directly. He should. Instead, the documents points to the US Administration playing a double game by recruiting not only Iran but also Tehran’s ally Assad to fight against ISIS;
in addition to the Government of Iraq.”
The reason this is doomed to failure is in the description of the nuclear deal that the Administration is trying to reach. It talks of “limiting” the Iranian program, “lengthening” the time for Iran to reach nuclear breakout, and “reducing” the risk that Iran “might” acquire nuclear weapons. It does not talk of stopping Iran’s march to a nuclear weapon. Israel will never tolerate that.
Obama will not allow American soldiers to enter into ground operations against ISIS. The US-trained Iraqi army has proven itself to be cowardly and incompetent.
This think tank should recommend the recruitment of a mercenary force made up of retired vets of special-ops units from the United States, British armies and others to initially back up the Kurds in fighting back against ISIS in Iraq while the Iraqi army is trained to stand up to this Islamic terror army on their land.
Private security forces are no longer covert in Middle East conflicts. It was Blackwater personnel who fought their way into and held the US compound in Benghazi when attacked by Islamic terrorists in 2012.
The Iraqi government should be persuaded that this temporary force in essential to push back against the ISIS insurgents that have taken over much of their country. The US military vehicles and equipment that have already been supplied to both Iraq and to Saudi Arabia should be requisitioned and provided to this special force on the grounds that current Iraqi units have not proven themselves capable of using them efficiently, and Saudi Arabia have the equipment but have no will to send their troops into this battle and use them.
Failing this scenario, there is another option. Israel sees ISIS creeping closer to its border. It can visibly see the Al-Nusra terror group on the Golan Heights. ISIS is not far away, and the think tank document states the threat for Israel;
There is another case to be made for Israel arming the Kurds, particularly in Iraq.
The Kurds are close to America and sympathetic to Israel’s plight in a radical region. They are more democratically minded than other players in the region. They have proven themselves to be the only courageous fighters on the ground in Iraq.
Israel sees convergence of interests with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt over the growing threat of the ISIS brand of Islamic terror. As happened with its conflict against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, it is reasonable to assume that these countries will turn a blind eye to Israel arming the Kurds.
Israel looks on the Kurds with great sympathy, but it could do more. Helping them overcome their confrontation with ISIS would be one way for Israel to demonstrate to the world what a small, but courageous and just, coalition can achieve in a regional war against radical Islamic terror.
As the document states, “ifterrorist threat to the American homeland.”
Barry Shaw is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’ He is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College in Israel.