If the sadists of ISIS are seeking—with their mass executions, child rapes, immolations, and beheadings of Christians—to stampede us into a new war in the Middle East, they are succeeding. Repeatedly snapping the blood-red cape of terrorist atrocities in our faces has the Yankee bull snorting, pawing the ground, ready to charge again. “Nearly three-quarters of Republicans now favor sending ground troops into combat against the Islamic State,” says a CBS News poll. The poll was cited in a New York Times story about how the voice of the hawk is ascendant again in the GOP.
Either U.S. troops lead, or Mosul remains in ISIS’ hands. Yet taking Mosul is only the beginning. Scores of thousands of troops will be needed to defeat and destroy ISIS in Syria. And eradicating ISIS is but the first of the wars Republicans have in mind. This coming week, at the invitation of Speaker John Boehner, Bibi Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress.
His message: Obama and John Kerry are bringing back a rotten deal that will ensure Iran acquires nuclear weapons and becomes an existential threat to Israel. Congress must repudiate Obama’s deal, impose new sanctions on Iran and terminate the appeasement talks. Should Bibi and his Republican allies succeed in closing the ramp to a diplomatic solution, we will be on the road to war. Which is where Bibi wants us.
To him, Iran is the Nazi Germany of the 21st century, hell-bent on a new Holocaust. A U.S. war that does to the Ayatollah’s Iran what a U.S. war did to Hitler’s Germany would put Bibi in the history books as the Israeli Churchill.
This last paragraph is key to understanding the right-wing hawks. They tend to mis-define most foreign policy conflicts by characterizing them in Allies vs. Germany, preventing-the-Holocaust terms. This overlooks big differences between ISIS, Iran and Nazi Germany that are vital to an effective strategy against them.
- As opposed to a united Nazi Germany, there is a centuries old, tribal blood feud between Shia and Sunni Muslims. The only ones extremists in either group hate more than the US and the West are each other. We must understand and exploit this feud to deal with either at all effectively. Instead, GOP hawks advocate boots on the ground war with both ISIS (a Sunni group) and Iran (a Shia nation) simultaneously. As the Bush administration demonstrated with simultaneous failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, this would be ineffective and ruinously expensive.
- Dealing with Iran and ISIS need to be separated in an important way. Though it is ruled by theocrats, Iran is a much more modern nation seeking to advance itself through modern means. It can therefore be reasoned and negotiated with using economic incentives. This process will not be without complexity and difficulty but hit is far more promising than war.
- As noted in a recent article in The Atlantic by Graeme Wood, ISIS is committed to bringing about a seventh century caliphate whose ultimate goal is Armageddon. If properly contained it will likely "be its own undoing." ISIS has many enemies in the Arab world. Invading their territory likely heals these rifts and plays right into their hands.