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Friday, September 18, 2015

The world needs a leader to stand up to ISIS; can Putin fill the role?

Link: Putin using media and military to make headlines in Syria.

Over the last two years, the world has become a much more dangerous place.  Russia seems intent on presiding over the dismemberment of Ukraine, Libya has become a magnet for jihadist groups, Iran, arguably the world's foremost exporter of terrorism, has been given open access to purchase modern military equipment, and ISIS seems unstoppable as it racks up battlefield victories in Iraq and Syria.  What the international situation calls for is the arrival on the scene of a true leader.  Barack Obama does not have the courage or the conviction to be that leader, and the various European Heads of State  are permanently frozen in "surrender" mode.  Whose left?  What about Vladimir Putin?  Sure, I'm disturbed by Russian aggression in Ukraine, but the situation in Donbas and Crimea does not present a current threat to world peace.  Let's take a serious look at the danger posed by the continued existence of the Islamic State for Iraq and al-Sham, or the Islamic State for a Caliphate in the Levant, or ISIS/ISIL, or whatever name suits you.  Simply put, this Islamic Extremist Organization is about Death.

ISIS claims to be singularly focused on the creation of a new Islamic Caliphate.  The most recent Caliph was embodied in the form of the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.  What is a Caliph?  A Caliph is the spiritual leader of the Islamic World, and the Caliphate is intended to be whatever geographical area that accepts his total authority.  At times, ISIS has claimed to be only interested in Syria, but that interest was expanded to include Iraq, upon the ill-timed withdrawal of U.S. troops.  Now we here the area of interest has expanded to include "The Levant" which is a colonial term used to describe Syria, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, and Jordan.  The reality is, ISIS is a plague with world domination goals.  The organization has spread to Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States.  Quite a reach for a group only interested in The Levant.  As for its Modus Operandi, ISIS flourishes through the spread of tyranny, domination and mass murder.  The tools most frequently utilized are terror and fear.  Its ability to spread to so many disparate communities, including the Philippines and Kenya, allows ISIS to spread its message like a virus.  How are they able to convince so many young people to join?  ISIS provides the one thing missing in the lives of young people from the poorest corners of the earth: hope.  For the individual, ISIS provides sustenance, and in many instances, a little money to send home.  And at the end of the day, anyone who dies in pursuit of the Caliphate, will most certainly qualify as a martyr.  For the hundreds of thousands of unemployed, hungry young men in places like Cairo, Nairobi, Damascus, Sana'a, the Balkans, Chechnya, Tajikistan, Somalia, and Libya, ISIS puts a gun in their hands and gives them not only something to do, but something powerful to belong to.

Again, anyone one of a dozen nations, if properly motivated and mobilized, could defeat ISIS on the present battlefields of Iraq and Syria.  Even with their F5s and stolen Iraqi Migs, I believe the Iranians could vanquish ISIS.  In fact, a coalition of Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Kuwait could probably get the job done as well.  Ideally, the United Nations would sponsor the creation of an international military coalition to destroy ISIS.  There was a day when the President of United States would ideally fit into the role of political leader of this coalition, given the amount of diplomatic relationships and influence the United States enjoys.  But it doesn't appear that our current President is up for the job.  Just when it appeared that no one was willing to take the job, Vladimir Putin announces that Russia has decided to aggressively re-engage in Syria, in opposition to ISIS.  Vlad puts his money where his mouth is; Russian heavy tanks, artillery, and necessary troop-support equipment has started to arrive in Latakia, on Syria's northwestern coast.  If the Russians so chose, a dedicated offensive campaign against ISIS, that utilizes whatever resources are necessary (and with the "no troops on the ground" assistance from the U.S. and Europe), would eventually crush ISIS.  But the elephant-sized question in the room, is can we allow Putin to become that leader of an international coalition to defeat the worst of the bad guys, when in the first paragraph, we identified Putin as one of the (lesser) bad guys?

In every post on this blog that focuses on Ukraine, I have made my pro-Ukrainian stance obvious.  I'm not Ukrainian, nor do I have any close Ukrainian friends.  I support Ukraine simply because they are a nation attempting to become more free and democratic, that has been invaded by its more powerful neighbor.  I will continue to support Ukraine, but I'm willing to avert my gaze for a period of time, if it will encourage Putin to dive head-first into the battle to defeat ISIS.  I recognize this evil organization for what it is, and what it has the potential to accomplish.  The time to smash ISIS is now, when it is still basically in its infant state.  Can you imagine the kind of conflicts that are raging in Iraq and Syria, also happening in South Africa, Argentina, and Thailand?  Unfortunately, its not as far-fetched as it was a year ago.  Someone with international influence has to stand up and build a coalition to destroy ISIS, and it needs to happen now.  Since no one else wants it, as far as I'm concerned, Putin has my total support to assume the job. 

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