UK General: “Bombing ISIS is Futile.”


On The Sunday Times, we read:

A Former head of the UK military warned this weekend that Isis, also known as Islamic State, will never be defeated by air attacks alone…

General Lord Richards, who stepped down as chief of the defence staff last year, said a conventional military campaign on the scale of the attacks which toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 is needed to crush the Islamist extremist group.

Cricitising the US-led coalition’s reliance on airstrikes, he said: “Ultimately you need a land army to achieve the objectives we’ve set ourselves — all air will do is destroy elements of Isis, it won’t achieve our strategic goal

“The only way to defeat Isis is to take back land they are occupying which means a conventional military operation.”

The CIA estimates that ISIS has something near 30,000 fighters currently marching around in Iraq and Syria. I suppose this sounds reasonable. This is not a large army, in absolute terms; but for a guerilla force, this is enormous. These are 30,000 men who can melt into the local populace at a moment’s notice and bide their time, waging a war of attrition. It is a conventional army’s worst nightmare.

I agree with Richard’s assessment. For those lawmakers and citizens that want to truly demolish ISIS, airstrikes ain’t gonna cut it. Anyone who thinks the USA can bomb ISIS into submission is living in fantasy land. These 30,000 fighters can dive into the hills whenever the need arises and hide from a majority of airstrikes. Furthermore, they can melt into the local population at will, and they have no qualms setting up shop in civilian locations and basically holding innocent civilians hostage. I wouldn’t put it past the US government to murder hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in pursuit of ISIS, but I don’t think they could get away with it, either domestically or abroad. Obama’s Peace Prize would come to life and eventually strangle him. So are they going to do what would really be required to maximize the pain inflicted against ISIS, which would be to carpet-bomb civilian cities and towns? I don’t think so. I certainly hope not, at least.

Americans are enamoured with the idea of airstrikes. I think many Americans overestimate what airstrikes are really capable of. I attribute this to the 1st and 2nd Gulf Wars, when Americans watched our warplanes reduce Baghdad to rubble and splatter the brains of Iraqi soldiers all over the walls. I remember seeing it on TV as a kid. What a spectacle to behold. In both invasions, Saddam Hussein’s military was basically 90% obliterated by airstrikes, with the ground invasion as mostly a cleanup crew.

Against a rather pathetic conventional army like Saddam Hussein’s, airstrikes are indeed overtly devastating. Nobody is gonna bring tanks to an air war ever again, I can tell you that much. But Saddam’s soldiers were not committed heart, mind, and soul to Saddam’s Iraq. They did not feel so strongly about Hussein or Ba’athism that they were willing to run to the hills and wage a years-long guerilla war. (They were indeed guerillas in Iraq, but they were not Hussein’s guerillas.) They weren’t so committed to Hussein or a nationalist Iraq that they were willing to literally fight to the death and take the enemy down with them. ISIS’ fighters, on the other hand, are nearly the opposite of all of this. They are committed to the cause. They really believe in what they’re doing.

I am 100% percent opposed to a ground invasion of ISIS territory, as it stands. I am also opposed to airstrikes. As it stands, I am opposed to engaging ISIS at all. You wanna know what ISIS really is? A patiently waiting tar baby. I’m not kidding when I say that I think ISIS supporters, maybe even ISIS leadership, hope and pray for a US campaign against ISIS. They know what will happen if the USA goes to bat against ISIS: it will produce unimaginable levels of destruction and bloodshed, and it will further strengthen Anti-American sentiments within the Islamic world. The reinforced negative attitudes to America’s incessant warmongering will allow groups like ISIS to recruit even more angry Muslims to their cause. America’s ceaseless warmongering is what helped bring ISIS to power in the first place; how will more of the same bring about a different result?

Furthermore, let’s assume that the USA does invade and basically demolish ISIS, leaving only scattered guerilla cells. Then what? Replace ISIS with another banal Arab nationalist autocracy? Does anyone really think that presents a viable long-term solution to the problem? I certainly don’t. I haven’t heard a single post-War on ISIS proposal for Iraq that seems reasonable in the least. Everyone is just focused on “Stop ISIS”. But what about the long-term consequences? The US government, unfortunately, is not known for it’s commitment to investigating long-term consequences.

Here’s the main point I want to make: Unless a politician is pushing for a ground invasion of ISIS territory, know that this politician is merely blowing hot air. If a person is committed to actually “defeating” ISIS, then they have to be committed to invading the region with ground troops and effectively declaring another full-scale war. Otherwise, if they’re just supporting airstrikes but nothing more, they’re doing nothing but wasting everyone’s time and money.

My proposed course of action in this situation? Bring US troops home from overseas locations and station them at the border instead. Let the individual States decide how they want to address potential threats of Islamic terrorism, should the threat exist. Make it clear that any Americans who go fight for ISIS will be be disavowed as a citizen and be refused re-entry, and that any foreigners trying to come into the country with even the ghost of suspicion that they fought for ISIS will be instantly and unequivocally denied entry, no exceptions. Leave it at that.

The question to be answered is this: do you want another war, or not?

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