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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

ISIS hopes for anti-Muslim backlash; can ISIS be defeated by a conventional army?

Link: ISIS hoping for backlash against western Muslims.

In the intelligent, thought-provoking editorial that I have linked, Harleen Gambhir, a contributor to the Washington Post and a counterterrorism analyst for the Institute for the Study of War, explains  
ISIS' plan to create a backlash against Muslims living in the west.  Gambhir predicts that recent attacks against civilian targets in the United States, Paris, Spain and over the Sinai, is intended to cause fear and anger towards Muslims living in western communities.  When western governments, in response to ISIS attacks and demands by the majority of their citizens, cracks down on Muslims living in Paris, Vienna, Chicago, New York, London and Sydney, young Muslims will feel marginalized and ISIS will benefit through increased recruitment.  History has already proven Gambhir to be correct; after each terrorist attack in a western city, law enforcement has increased its focus on Muslim members of the community.  At first, it would appear that this focus is necessary to identify any additional terrorists that may be concealing themselves amongst their neighbors.  The truth is, after a terrorist attack which leaves civilian casualties, both the government and law enforcement are under tremendous pressure from the populous to at least "appear" to be aggressively working against the bad guys. If law enforcement doesn't have any real leads, then it becomes even more tempting to increase surveillance and random searches against persons who share the religion and ethnic background of the terrorists.  Intelligence reveals that recruitment numbers increase for terrorist groups in the period following high-profile attacks similar to the recent shootings and explosions in Paris.

On a separate subject, an important issue that is currently being discussed by political commentators and some politicians involves the supposed difficulty in defeating ISIS on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria.  One of the GOP candidates for president (Ben Carson) remarked that the U.S. military had the capacity to destroy ISIS in a relatively short period of time.  I believe that President Obama may have taken exception to the remark, and the conversation was started.  Actually, defeating a terrorist organization requires a tremendous amount of patience and planning, and ideally, regular access to time-sensitive intelligence.  Normally, locating the terrorists is half the battle.  But ISIS is a completely different animal altogether.  The Islamic State, or ISIS, has developed a conventional military capability.  In other words, they have an army, and that army is currently fighting on two fronts: Iraq and Syria.  In order to destroy ISIS, the conventional army must be annihilated, and the more traditional network of operatives hiding in cities all over the world (and also in rat holes and caves in Sudan and Afghanistan) must be identified, located, and wiped out.  Ideally, both incarnations of ISIS should be targeted simultaneously.  The United States, the UK, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, China and probably a half-dozen other nations have the military capacity to destroy ISIS, but it won't be a localized affair and a few diplomatic toes might get stepped on in the process.  You would think that anyone who stands up and announces a willingness to single-handedly destroy the nastiest bunch of assholes the world has ever seen, would be given a pass, as far as diplomatic obligations go.  Vladimir Putin stepped up and announced Russia's intention to destroy ISIS, but within a few days we discovered that Putin was more interested in keeping his ally, de facto Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in power.  After a few days of Russian bombing raids obliterating the Syrian indigenous opposition to Assad with nary a fart in the direction of ISIS, it became clear the regardless of the outcome, Russia's entry into the Syria sweepstakes was about much more than fighting ISIS.

Again, Russia is one of a number of countries who have the military capacity to destroy ISIS.  It can't be done without a commitment to using ground troops in both Syria and Iraq, and it may be necessary to take chances where civilian lives are concerned, when an important target has been located.  ISIS will use every opportunity to hide themselves amongst women, children and the elderly, because unlike ISIS, we are a bit squeamish about killing innocents.  But make no mistake; in order to destroy ISIS, there will be civilian casualties.  It might also be necessary to use weapons that are frowned upon, and interrogation techniques that are much criticized.  Some great military leader once said (I can't remember who), that when a country enters into a war, it must do so with a willingness to use its total military might, and every weapon at its disposal.  The enemy must be given no quarter.  This will end the conflict soonest, and limit the number of casualties for both combatants.  I remember that comment because it truly makes great sense.  The longer the war, the higher the number of casualties.  We need to throw the book at ISIS.  The Marines, Special Forces, Navy Seals, and whoever else we can squeeze in.  This group thinks that it can outmatch any opponent for ruthlessness.  When it comes to the battlefield, we need to prove them wrong.  Right now, we are still fortunate enough to have ISIS limited to Syria and Iraq, at least as far as its conventional capabilities go.  Eastern Syria and western Iraq is basically one big, occasionally rocky desert.  ISIS has no place to hide from our satellites, spies in the sky, and spies on the ground.  While our military deals with ISIS on the battlefield, our intelligence forces will track down and wipe out each and every cell, regardless of country, until there are none. 

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