Doomed To Fail
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When has arming Islamic militants ever worked out well for the United States?
Fight to win, or stay home.
President Obama continues to pledge "no boots on the ground" in Iraq or Syria, yet there seems to be some disagreement as to the wisdom of that pledge. Robert Gates, President Obama's former Defense Secretary, stated quite plainly that "there will be boots on the ground if there's to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that, the president, in effect, traps himself." This is, without question, a major concern - for the president to box himself in by repeatedly pledging "no boots on the ground," President Obama could potentially be left with two options in the long-term battle: either he will be forced to make himself into a liar by sending in troops, or in standing by his pledge, be married to a strategy that will never achieve victory.
And while Robert Gates isn't a decision-maker in the administration anymore, he isn't the only one contradicting President Obama's strategy, and this is where it gets increasingly surreal. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left the door open for ground troops in the conflict in his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.
To put it bluntly, for the President of the United States to continue to repeat this pledge is the height of foolishness. While pretty much anyone can understand that the people of the United States don't want to get dragged into another prolonged war in the Middle East, there is little question about the fact that the enemy we face in ISIL is one of the greatest evils we have seen in these modern times. ISIL has cut a path of destruction across Syria and Iraq, and they aren't planning on stopping there. Just the way their organization has changed its name over time tells the story of their plans: they started out as ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This was quickly changed to ISIL: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In case you don't know, the Levant is a region stretching from Southern Turkey to Northern Egypt. It encompasses Syria, Jordan, Israel, and parts of Egypt and Turkey. The subsequent shortening of their name to IS, or the Islamic State, suggests that they have no intention of stopping with the Levant. Their goal is to bring back the Caliphate. Since its inception, Islam has always been expansionist, and it is very clear that ISIL's long-term goal is to grow a modern Islamic empire reminiscent of the Caliphate as it existed a thousand years ago.
So when President Obama stated that his goal is to shrink ISIL "to the point where it is a manageable problem," it is very clear that he has no idea what he is talking about. How does one manage evil, after all?
But while President Obama has pledged that America will go to war with one hand tied behind our collective back, it is the second part of his strategy that is the most worrisome. In a massive case of foreign policy deja vu, President Obama has pledged to arm rebels in Syria yet again. There are a few big questions about the wisdom of this policy, the biggest of which is, "When has arming Islamic militants ever worked out well for the United States?"
When the Reagan administration armed the mujahideen in Afghanistan, it played into our short-term interests of keeping the Soviet Union occupied in a protracted conflict there. It prevented the Soviets from gaining control over Afghanistan, while forcing them to waste massive amounts of money and personnel vying for control of the region. But as we found out many years later, the short-term win was a long-term disaster. Afghanistan, under the control of the Taliban, became a safe haven for Al-Qaida.
But we don't have to go back 30 years to see why arming militant Muslims is a bad idea. President Obama has some lessons to draw from during his own presidency!
The Obama administration armed the anti-Gadhafi rebels in Libya in 2011. Those rebels included an amalgamation of civilians fighting an oppressive regime, some members of Gadhafi's own government, and militant Muslims with links to Al-Qaida and the Taliban. Almost a year after Gadhafi's government was overthrown, the U.S. mission in Benghazi was attacked, and our ambassador was killed. Today, the U.S. has no diplomatic presence in Libya; we have been driven out.
But when it comes to the dangers of arming militant Muslim groups, the biggest lesson for the Obama administration comes from Syria itself. It was around this time last year that the United States first began arming and training anti-Assad rebels. In the debate leading up to the decision to arm those rebels, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry assured the American public that the American government would only be providing arms and training to "moderate" rebel forces...and yet it was only a few months later that ISIS was on the rise in Syria and was spreading into Iraq. If they failed to weed out the moderates from the extremists back then, how can we be certain that they will be able to do so now?
More importantly, how do we know that there are a significant number of moderates among the rebel forces in Syria? There seems to be a significant misunderstanding of just what "moderate" Islam is - the U.S. is still good buddies with Saudi Arabia, yet the Saudis are an extremely oppressive Islamo-fascist regime, where women are prohibited from going to school or driving, and can be stoned to death for adultery after being raped. While gay marriage is described as the great civil rights battle of our time here in America, under Islamic law, homosexuals are killed simply for being homosexual.
Applying a half-assed strategy against ISIL makes no long-term sense. The fact that the president's tepid strategy is likely linked to political concerns over the 2012 elections makes it that much more disturbing.
Every time I criticize the president's strategy, the inevitable question arises: "What would you suggest we do?" (though usually not worded that politely).
The United States has been fighting with militant Muslims off and on since the Barbary Pirates. For the United States, this religious war has been ongoing for 200 years. It's time we sent a clear message that we will no longer tolerate this kind of barbarism from the Islamic world.
There have been reports that ISIL fighters are afraid of being killed by women because if they are, they won't go to heaven. That being the case, we should be sending battalions of female troops to fight ISIL, armed with bacon-wrapped bullets. One of the secrets to the longevity of militant Islam is the promise of an afterlife, and we should promise to rob them of that afterlife if they choose to engage in their theocratic terrorism and oppression.
Like it or not, this is a religious war. For hundreds of years, it has been a war between militant Muslims and the rest of the world. It's time we sent a clear message that we're going to fight to win...but unfortunately, it looks like this will be yet another war run by incompetent politicians, and doomed to fail.
Robert Cleveland, Senior Conservative Editor: Robert Cleveland is the IT Director for a document management services company. When he isn't working on computers and scanners, he's spending time with his wife and kids, or writing about just how jacked-up Washington politics is. He is a strong believer that hard work and freedom are what make America the greatest nation on the planet, and it is of the utmost importance that we never lose those values. Robert's other writing can be found at his blog, more...)