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Cameron S. Schaeffer / September 22, 2014

Tents and Skyscrapers

President Obama says that Islamic State is not Islamic and is not a state. His theological and geographical musings aside, Americans would rather hear how he intends to deal with people who wish to do us harm, almost as much as they want to hear from Islamic scholars how Islam is a Religion of Peace and not a religion of pieces, as in heads and limbs, and clitorectomies and child rape.

Islamic State may not be issuing license plates and passports yet, but it has a legal structure, occupies a land mass the size of Maryland, and has more soldiers than Frankfort, Kentucky has citizens.

Saddam Hussein considered himself a lion. Lions sometimes wait for cheetahs to make a kill, then saunter over and take the prize because they know they can get away with it. Saddam invaded Kuwait because he thought he could get away with it. His bigger mistake was trying to assassinate Bush the Elder.

Iraq was a functioning, educated society that largely respected the rights of women and quiet, obedient minorities like the Iraqi Christians before Bush the Younger invaded it. It was the region’s primary counterbalance to Iran, which is now spilling over the Middle East. President Bush popped the cork when he toppled Saddam in an act of vengeance, but President Obama, in an equally foolish and petulant gesture, dumped what remained in the bottle onto the sand, walked away, and let it evaporate.

America is at war with Islamic State, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Iran’s enemy is Islamic State. Syrian President Bashar Assad hates Islamic State too. But President Obama, whose nom de guerre is Bush the Third, has said we need regime change in Iran and Syria. So which is it? Assad crosses his red line, and now he fights for him?

For years, President Obama refused to arm the Free Syrian Army, despite recommendations within his own administration. Now, with midterms approaching and Christian constituents horrified at the greatest slaughter of Christians since the Crusades, President Obama wants to arm the Free Syrian Army to do the wet work of slaughtering Islamic State.

President Obama also wants Saudi Arabia to help fight Islamic State. But the House of Saud wants to get rid of the House of Assad and the mop up the Shiite wave washing over Iraq from Iran. Sunni Islamic State is the enemy of Sunni Saudi Arabia’s enemies. Saudi Arabia’s primary interest may be to keep Islamic State going and getting the United States to manage it. That was President Obama’s initial impulse, or perhaps instructions.

Saudi Arabia is certainly well-positioned to call the shots. We have a President who once bowed to its king and who has done everything in his power to keep us dependent on its oil, like stopping the Keystone pipeline and unleashing the EPA. Countries that rely on other countries for their own economic survival limit their options, as Europeans now realize as they watch Ukraine and the Lion of Russia, and contemplate a winter without Russian gas.

Sun-Tzu promulgated the principles of warfare 2500 years ago. Napoleon perfected the elements of surprise and the counter-attack. Islamic State executed the best blitzkrieg since Rommel. President Obama failed to counter-attack the soldiers of Islamic State while they basked in our Humvees in open desert, and now he warns them he will bomb them, giving them plenty of time to scatter, dig in, and blog for reinforcements.

You cannot fight ideology with bombs, and you cannot fight wars with ideologues. The only thing worse now would be a President John McCain. He just wants to bomb everybody. Ron Paul is right; we need a two party system.

A true opposition party might suggest bringing every Israeli to America to teach us how to secure a border, becoming truly energy independent, and hermetically sealing the Middle East- no commerce or travel to and from the region, no financial transactions, no diplomatic missions, and no weapons sales or transfers. Let the people of the region choose between swords and plowshares, let them contemplate the separation of mosque and state, and let them choose between camels and cars and tents and skyscrapers.

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