Americans hear Republicans talk about President Obama not doing anything to confront or combat the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh) and pledge that the extremists are only getting stronger and more dangerous because America is impotent with a Democrat in the White House. However, the facts do not substantiate the Republican warmonger’s assertions and in fact, ISIS is losing ground and substantial assets due to America’s actions.
The Pentagon reported that just American airstrikes alone have killed 25,000 Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria; with no American “boots on the ground.” Add to those statistics, American bombs have also “incinerated millions of dollars plundered by the militants.” The Pentagon reports that America’s air campaign targeting oil fields, refineries, and tanker trucks have also cut ISIS’ oil revenue by a third.
Because of America’s air power, Iraqi and Kurdish forces recaptured 40 percent of the land ISIS seized in Iraq, and with backing from the West, friendly forces have taken back a significant amount of Syrian territory that had been controlled by the Islamic State forces.
Of course that is good news, and even better is that the feat was accomplished with a concerted multi-national forces effort and without American troops fighting and dying on the ground. However awesome the battlefield successes are, America and its allies’ military superiority cannot stop the extremists spread into Europe, North Africa, Turkey and Afghanistan.
American officials, terrorism experts, and military leaders are cautious about “predicting progress or success on the ground because the fighting is likely to go on for years.” And it is likely not going to always be “on the ground” (battlefield).
During testimony in front of a congressional committee this week, Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said,
“Even as we advance our efforts to defeat Daesh (ISIS et al) on the front lines, we know that to be fully effective, we must work to prevent the spread of violent extremism in the first place — to stop the recruitment, radicalization and mobilization of people, especially young people, to engage in terrorist activities.”
Experts advise that the best course now is not focusing all the attention on “a pseudo-state in the Middle East whose fighters have proved susceptible to American airpower. The United States and its European allies must now also engage in a far more complex struggle against homegrown militants who need relatively few resources to sow bloodshed in the West.”
Whatever one thinks about the intelligence community, part and parcel of that “complex struggle” is a very robust intelligence gathering program to track communications, and especially what little finances ISIS extremists are using to fund Western terrorists.
According to a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department now at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, Jonathan Schanzer said,
“Defeating the formal military presence of a terrorist group will not significantly mitigate the threat of lone wolf or small independent cells that are based in the West. Attacks in the West are cheap to finance.”
Mr. Schanzer estimated that the terror attacks in Belgium cost from $10,000 to $15,000 for the lab and materials to make the explosives used in Brussels attack.
It is a huge mistake to portray, as many officials have, the recent terror attacks in Europe and Turkey as clear evidence that the Islamic State is getting desperate as a result of its losses on the battlefield. Real experts rightly claim that attacks off the battlefield are yet another indication that like Al Qaeda and the Taliban, “the Islamic State is not a problem that will be quickly or easily overcome with military might alone.”
Probably because like the other Middle Eastern extremists, and like religious groups and bigots plaguing America; ISIS is fundamentally a desperate ideology that knows no borders and has no national identity.
As the Deputy Secretary of State said, the “only fully effective way to prevent the spread of violent extremism in the first place is to stop the recruitment, radicalization and mobilization of people.” That wise counsel should have been heeded by the Bush administration after 911, and it contrasts with current Republican candidates’ idea of combatting violent extremism; their approach is helping ISIS recruit, radicalize, and mobilize people to launch attacks in the West.
Here is the primary difference between an intelligent human being and all Republicans. A little over a year ago when an ISIS leader published a laundry list of directions telling the West precisely how to aid the Islamic State in recruiting and radicalizing activists in Europe and America, President Obama stayed the course and condemned Republicans for attacking the Muslim community.
Republicans, on the other hand, seemingly read the extremists’ instructions carefully and immediately followed directions to the letter. And, it is not just Donald Trump portraying all Muslims, including American Muslims, as the devil or targeting them like America’s mortal enemies.
Many Republicans have incited frightened Americans into singling out the Muslim community for scorn and suspicion in their homes, workplaces and where they worship. That demonization of Muslims no doubt had some influence on the terrorists that launched the mass shooting attack in San Bernardino; an attack that was precisely what the ISIS leaders promised would happen if the “West” followed ISIS’ directions carefully.
There is no easy solution to stop the spread of extremist ideology and it is worth noting yet again that without a Republican president invading and occupying Iraq and exterminating three-quarters-of-a-million innocent Muslim civilians, there would be no ISIS.
It is why President Obama’s approach to cleaning up Bush’s mess has had a measure of success in and around Iraq and America has not suffered the type of home-grown terrorist attacks witnessed in France, Belgium, and Turkey.
Unlike threats from Republicans, President Obama is not ordering “carpet bombing” to kill the guilty and innocent alike, deploying tens-of-thousands of troops as an invasion and occupying force, or contemplating dropping a nuclear bomb on extremists like leading Republicans threaten.
Regardless of what Republicans claim, President Obama is combatting ISIS and winning. However, no-one will be able to stop ISIS attacks on the West, or America, until idiots stop helping ISIS recruit, radicalize and mobilize people to strike back at being targeted for having the wrong color of skin or not worshipping in the local evangelical church.