Three hard realities must be faced. First, the international coalition is not winning. At best we have a stalemate, which is a form of victory for the caliphate.
Hard reality No 2 is that the town that must be recaptured urgently by the international coalition is not Ramadi or Mosul but Washington, DC. There will be no victory without the Americans, but the idiot in the White House, President Barack Obama is striving to limit his military commitments.
Hard reality No 3 is that we will not stop the flood of young Muslims radicalising and dreaming of jihadist adventure unless the international community hands Islamic State a thumping battlefield defeat.
Former CIA officer Kevin Carroll has a deadly serious prediction. Baghdad could fall, with catastrophic results, unless the US starts to fight a real war. For instance:
Use strategic air power
America’s unrivalled air forces can hit Islamic State from anywhere: neighbouring countries, the sea and the continental US. Yet the sorties flown so far have been minimal, and damage inflicted still less, even as Islamic State held a parade in broad daylight in Rutba, Iraq, last week. It was disgraceful that not one plane was dispatched to bomb and strafed the bastards.
Launch ruthless special operations.
Recent raids into Syria were daring and skilful. But a handful of missions do not resemble the operations led by US army generals Stanley McChrystal and Michael Flynn in 2006-07 that eventually broke the back of Islamic State’s predecessor, al-Qa’ida in Iraq, and drove it abroad. At that campaign’s height, commandos conducted multiple missions every night. They analysed intelligence collected on one “objective” to find and fix targets they finished on successive raids. The rhythm, persistence and sheer number of those operations crushed the enemy. Emulate them now, starting near Baghdad.
Capture and interrogate Islamic State leaders
Much of the intelligence exploited on those missions came from documents and electronics found in terrorist safe houses. But the best came from interrogations, some conducted on the battlefield as the smoke cleared… A robust program of capturing and roughly interrogating terrorists abroad should resume, first focused on the whereabouts of Islamic State operatives in and around Baghdad.
Send ground combat forces
Despite US efforts to retrain its soldiers, the Iraqi army is now unable or unwilling to stand and fight Islamic State alone… US airborne units can arrive quickly to secure Baghdad’s airport and the long and vital road from the city to that airfield… Americans can stiffen Iraqi lines around the city, and provide artillery and engineer units needed in urban combat.
US cavalry units can launch what imperial Britain called “punitive expeditions” to destroy Islamic State lairs further afield. The arrival of thousands more American fighting men will improve the Iraqi army’s performance. It was no accident that the Sunni Awakening and US surge succeeded at the same time in 2006-07. As US troops poured in, Sunni sheiks cast their lot with what Bing West (above right)memorialised as the “The Strongest Tribe” in his book of the same name.
The Way I See It.....the US forces under Obama must be allowed to fight as the US forces did under Bush. Obama’s early pull-out from Iraq and his refusal to reverse that error is helping to plunge that region into the most terrible bloodshed.
Pentagon officials say this fight is winnable. But if the administration whistles past the graveyard and insists its policy is working even as Islamic State nears Baghdad and with our diplomats there, the White House may face a debacle that makes Benghazi seem minor in comparison.