The Administration has put a plan in motion to deal with ISIS, and on the surface it looks promising. The New York Times reports:
The Obama administration said Friday that the United States and its allies had formed a coalition to fight Sunni militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, unveiling a military and political campaign that officials said could serve as a model for combating extremist groups around the world.
In a hastily organized meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit meeting here, diplomats and defense officials from the United States, Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark conferred on what they called a two-pronged strategy: working to bolster allies on the ground in Iraq and Syria, while attacking Sunni militants from the air. They said the goal was to destroy the Islamist militant group, not to contain it.
“There is no containment policy for ISIL,” Secretary of State John Kerry said at the beginning of the meeting, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. “They’re an ambitious, avowed, genocidal, territorial-grabbing, caliphate-desiring quasi state with an irregular army, and leaving them in some capacity intact anywhere would leave a cancer in place that will ultimately come back to haunt us.”…
Judging from the Times’ reporting, the Administration seems to have secured the support of key Sunni Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It also seems at last to be open to arming the Free Syrian Army. Two cheers, then—and three if they can pull it off.Nevertheless, the announcement of the coalition hit some off notes to our ear:
But [Secretary John Kerry] and other officials present made clear that at the moment, any ground combat troops would come from either Iraqi security forces or Kurdish pesh merga fighters on the ground in Iraq, or from moderate Syrian rebels opposed to the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. “Obviously I think that’s a red line for everybody here: no boots on the ground,” Mr. Kerry said.
Let’s leave aside for the moment that the words “red line” and “Syria” used in conjunction have unfortunate resonances coming from this Administration. Given that some U.S. troops are already on the ground, isn’t this is a curious thing to say? And even if this sort of thing was tacitly agreed to by all the parties, is there any need to telegraph this kind of information to the enemy?