Dan Gilmore / December 18, 2015

Obama Exerts Too Little Effort Against ISIL

Let’s analyze this conflict through old theories of war.

A recent fight in northern Iraq shows the Islamic State isn’t about to roll over in the face of the coalition arrayed against it. Hopefully Barack Obama’s operation has “inherent resolve.” The group who Obama says is “contained” in Iraq and Syria launched an attack against the Iraqi Kurdish security forces, a.k.a. the Peshmerga, with 300 heavily armed troops around the city of Mosul. The Islamic State threw car-mounted machine guns, mortars, car bombs and armored bulldozers into the fight and for 17 hours U.S. planes flew airstrikes, supporting the Peshmerga fighters, driving back the Islamic State.

Let’s analyze this conflict through old theories of war — that the side with the moral high ground, the side who is most animated by what they believe in, is the side that will ultimately win the day. On one side of this conflict is a group of fighters that believe they are establishing a long-awaited caliphate, who are “reforming” their religion. Some of them go willingly to their deaths through suicide attacks. On the other side is Obama’s “International Community” whose greatest contribution to date is lobbing bombs in the group’s direction. There are actions this nation will not take, such as placing boots on the ground, or using some of the atomic munitions sitting in reserve — or even using airstrikes effectively. The Islamic State has expanded its operations in Libya and established itself in Afghanistan. That takes trained fighters, yet the U.S. military has only struck 20 the group’s training camps in 17 attacks since May. Where’s the “inherent resolve”? The 60 training camps the Islamic State operates in Iraq and Syria churns out about 1,000 new fighters a month.

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