Cordesman: We have already gotten the ball rolling. First, we are striking key IS targets inside Iraq from three air bases in the Gulf and a US carrier. We are building up our presence in Iraq – not with combat units, but with advisers, intelligence personnel, enablers for air strikes, and some forward deployed personnel, and to a far larger level than before IS attacked.
The key practical issue in further expanding our role and presence is that the United States cannot hope to contain the Islamic State or defeat it unless it can put an end to the kinds of sectarian abuses that PM Maliki carried out and that created the level of Sunni hostility that allow IS to be so successful in the Sunni areas in Iraq.
We should attack the Islamic State but can’t afford to support an Iraqi government in a sectarian war between Sunni and Shiite or between Arab and Kurd. We can’t afford to alienate either Iraqi Sunnis or the Sunni majority in the Arab and Islamic worlds. When it comes to defeating or containing the Islamic State, the fact is that there will be Islamic extremists long after any successful disruption or defeat of the Islamic State, and we need partnerships with all of the major sectarian and ethnic factions.
Sorry, but this guy has built an entire career out of blathering conventional national security and military wisdom for the ears of the elites, and he has generally been wrong about most things
For instance, here he repeats the conventional Obama administration line that Iraq fell apart because Maliki didn’t suck up to the Sunni enough.
Angelo Codevilla points out the inconvenient fact that the reason for the so-called “Anbar Awakening” – a decision on the part of the very same Sunni who are now supporting ISIL – to embrace the Americans, whom they’d previously been killing with great vigor and glee – was that the Shia death squads were on the verge of wiping out the Sunni presence in Iraq entirely, in the good old-fashioned Muslim way of slaughtering them all.
If we’d let them do it then, we wouldn’t be looking at this problem with ISIL in Iraq today. But what is Cordesmann’s prescription? Let’s do it again like we did last year, decade, whatever.
You’ve got two options here – either force the Sunni mothership, Saudi Arabia, and its allies, to stop creating and financing these Sunni terror armies, or let the Shia slaughter those armies where appropriate, so nothing remains for the Saudis to stir up.