You don’t really think I know do you? I believe no one knows, which makes it irksome for me to listen to most of the Republican presidential hopeful pack talk as if they they had the answer, some combination of more leadership and more decisiveness and more American troops. Easy peasy.
In the process of pretending they have the answer these wannabees ignore the basic realities that make this situation such a dilemma. More leadership in the fight against ISIS? What if the Sunni states don’t want to be led in the direction we want them to go? The Sunni dominated powers Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the gulf states and Turkey have different agendas than we do. Their actions and inaction show they are more worried about Iran than ISIS. Is that where we want to lead them? Into a war against Iran?
If the shaky nuclear talks with Iran fall apart, maybe it will come down to that, but a full out Middle East war between Sunni and Shia could have catastrophic consequences, not something to rush into. There is endless talk of the need for more “boots on the ground” to fight ISIS, but where do we get them. The Sunni nations aren’t eager to provide them.
I think Saudi Arabia, for one, would rather keep their boots safe and sound at home until maybe they need them vs. Iran. Related to that is this question: How do we know the Saudi ground troops are any good? They haven’t done much fighting. And maybe they aren’t eager to risk their lives for the Saudi royal family any more than the Iraqi troops are willing to fight for a corrupt and listless government in Baghdad. Maybe the Saudi princes aren’t eager to test their mettle.
Let’s say the Saudi’s were willing to send their troops into Iraq to help fight ISIS, do you really think the Shia dominated Iraqi government would welcome them? I don’t. And it gets tricky because the Saudis would also be fighting fellow Sunni’s, not to mention the inconvenient truth that ISIS took root as Sunni revolutionaries in a Syria ruled by a Shia sect, and they were originally largely funded by many rich Sunnis in Saudi Arabia and the gulf states. Many of those contributors may have regrets now, but not enough to be eager to fight ISIS at this time which would only make the Shia in Iraq stronger.
And while perhaps a few thousand more of our own troops in special capacities might help significantly, more than that would leave us holding the bag as nation builders once again The bag as in Baghdad.
Hey, what about arming the Kurds more and turning them into a super force? They have shown the grit and desire necessary to fight ISIS. And even though they are predominantly Sunni (a fact never mentioned), their heart felt ethnicity as Kurds makes them uniquely independent in the region.
But of course, that would make it all the more likely for the Kurds to secede from Iraq, something they may well do at any rate since they have a functioning government in a dysfunctional state. But is that what we want to promote? How would that fit into the bigger picture? Certainly Baghdad would resist that to the extent they could.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of crap we’re dealing with in that region. Anyone whose answer to the Mid-East crisis fails to address these unpleasantries is not to be taken seriously.
To add to this spotty picture I suggest you read a recent column in the Washington Post by Fareed Zakaria, my go to guy of late because I value his ability to capture the gist of complex issues. It is titled: Iraq exists only as an idea, not a nation. His main point is that Iraqis have lost whatever national sense Iraqi’s had years ago. They will fight for their sects but not for what’s left of a national ideal.