We are being told this time it is different. “No boots on the ground” “Syria is not Iraq” That this time we will get it right. This confuses me as I look back the last 6 years of our Middle East foreign policy.
Let’s look back to Iraq during the surge of troops there. After successful outreach to the Sunni tribes and an extra 100k in troops (US), President Obama was determined to reduce the surge quickly and ultimately reduce total forces in Iraq. The Centcom CDR was typically overruled as the drawdown was placed on a time schedule instead of Iraq Army capabilities. VPBiden and the President disagreed/saying the Iraq forces were ready as they ceremoniously turned over province after province to the Iraqis. We were told that the military CDRs were in “agreement”. It was painfully obvious to me this was very misleading as I knew from talking to troops that the Ir
aq Army was not ready even with brand new US equipment and years of training. My biggest fear was what was going to happen to these Sunni militia groups once they no longer had a common enemy or. Were no longer being ” paid” by the US? …..
Then we jump to the Presidents press briefing yesterday. “We underestimated the ISIL force” Apparently they have been watched in Syria for some time as they had safe haven in ungoverned Northern Syria. While we were ignoring Iraq so we could surge and drawdown in Afghanistan, former Sunni and Saddam Hussein military members built up training and funding in Syria. Despite the pleading of the moderate rebels in Syria asking for help against extremists there, we handed them MREs and non combatant supplies. It wasn’t until the Iraqi Kurds were on the run and ISIL approached Bagdhad that we affirmed our mistake in not helping Iraq early enough. Then it took beheadings of the press in Syria to say we need to get involved there..no mind the thousands of Syrians ISIL has killed before the journalists.
I have to admit the US helped set this scenario along. We withdrew from Iraq too quickly and too early. President Maliki did play a major sectarian role thought as he certainly was no friend of the Sunnis – to which I’m sure his Iranian (Shia) advisors were happy with. As we were out you could feel the US was “done” with Iraq as we concentrated in getting out if AFG. I think similar thinking kept us from helping the Syrians against Assad or the ISIL rebels. President Obama had to get dragged in by the beheadings ( or chemical weapons until the Putin save)
Now we are bombing Syria, which I support, but it reminds me of North Vietnam. We attacked ISIL reluctantly in Iraq and dragged our feet for a month in Syria. This gave time for ISIL to prepare, move, and get ready while we talked about it in the press. When questioned about civilian casualties, the White House said don’t worry, the White House is strictly controlling targets in Syria. What? This makes attacks time late from intelligence and severely limits the Military commanders on flexibility for targets of opportunity.
This morning was a press interview with and ISIS member that stated they knew the attacks in Syria were coming and that most escaped into the population. This could be propaganda, but I suspect somewhat true. Our own conference talked about the “nodes” or infrastructure we attacked, not the key leaders…
We are touting that we are training a rebel force in Syria, although it is alleged that could take a year or so and may only number 5000. But its OK (tic), we are not sending boots on the ground.
Here’s where I am concerned. We don’t seem to have a coordinated (cross country) strategy to defeat ISIL. First we protected Iraqi civilians, then Syrian, then attacked ISIL in Iraq, now finally ISIL nodes in Syria. We are helping the Kurds slowly in Iraq, but not really Kurds in Syria. What about ISIL in Turkey? Kurds in Turkey? ..As you see it gets more complicated with government policies and minority groups on motivation to help. Most importantly, how is this whole effort not aiding Pres Assad of Syria, who we say still must go. He’s not going anywhere.
Now the Iranians say they will help if we lift sanctions against their country.. Although only implied as that they won’t talk to us about ISIL until we do. Hopefully we won’t fall for that trick as they have not complied by reducing enriched nuclear material.
If we are going after this group why did we wait so long? Why are we going after them piecemeal? Why do the Commanders need to seek white house approval limiting strikes and making them time late on intelligence? Why does it seem that the only thing that has worked is boots in the ground? … Or no action at all?
For even more insight check out Anthony Cordesman… http://csis.org/publication/real-center-gravity-war-against-islamic-state
Posted from WordPress for Android