ISIS has successfully become an enemy to the entire world. Their ideologies are flawed, their tactics are brutal, and their existence is non-sustainable. However, getting rid of them has proven to be a chess match. They use social media to release their propaganda to recruit new members. They have a passageway to trade for weapons and safe recruitment through Turkey. They have hostages to exploit for money and oil as well. These are all facets that need to be dealt with before ISIS can be exterminated.
The first step to defeat this terrorist group is through cutting off their supply chains. We need to stop their growth which has been made possible through new members and money. If they cannot recruit new members or make any money, they cannot afford weapons and ammunition, as well as keeping their current members happy in livable conditions. To do this, we must incentivize Turkey to patrol its borders more effectively by funding them or providing them with the technological means. Once ISIS is isolated and cannot make more money, they cannot continue to be a threat.
The second step involves the continuation of airstrikes combined with the training and assistance to the Iraqi army and the Kurds. Of course this is easier said than done. These procedures take a very long time and must be done properly. Building up the Iraqi army has its threats since Iran has lots of influence over the country. Al-Abadi seems like a promising new Prime Minister who will allow Sunnis plenty of say in the new government. This however has yet to be proven and may likely not be the case in the long run due to Iranian influence. We do not want to build up the Iraqi army too much and make it purely Shia because they will continue to abuse Sunnis which caused this conflict in the first place. The Kurds look like the ground force in which we can train and trust. The problem here is the fact that after ISIS is gone, they will want autonomy which is against Turkey and Iraq’s wishes. Regardless of these inevitable problems, these two options must represent the strong ground force that will push ISIS into neighboring Syria which is where the real headache begins.
After ISIS is pushed out of Iraq, they will settle in the safe haven of Syria. It is difficult to perform airstrikes in Syria since they would not have permission from the government. We cannot ally with Assad since he is a war criminal in which the international community has already condemned for using chemical weapons on innocent civilians. So the only option is to hope the Kurds can continue on the ground and we can build up the heavily depleted Syrian rebels to do the dirty work. This is very unlikely since the Kurds do not have an incentive to keep advancing west and the Syrian rebels are being destroyed by Assad’s forces. We need to get rid of Assad, replace him with a leader who is motivated to destroy ISIS. This is unlikely since Assad is propped up by Iran and Russia. The best case scenario would be if Assad’s forces fought with ISIS and they depleted each other. Again this is unlikely since Assad does not see ISIS as an immediate threat. Even if Assad decided to attack ISIS, they can always move into Libya where there is no consolidated leadership. We would have to choose between 2 conflicting governing bodies in Libya which one to arm to destroy ISIS, but the aftermath could be worse since they will use the training and weaponry on the other governing body, causing another terrible conflict.
This migraine of a situation cannot be solved through a clear strategy that can be conveyed to the public. That is why Obama should not be faulted for his cautious stance towards the situation. War hungry people must realize that Obama will only put troops on the ground as a last resort. This last resort is a long ways away.
Ideally, another country would step up and put their own troops on the ground. This may be possible through Jordan, but they are more concerned with the protection of their border and will be cautious to invade another country’s territory. Even when ISIS is destroyed, the Sunni and Shia conflicts in the region will not go away. Someone will fill the void in which we will not be able to control and monitor. This quagmire has no easy solution and will take a long time to resolve. But for defeating ISIS in the first place, we can just send in a drone fleet. This may be costly and technologically unfeasible at the moment, but it’s the only quick solution we have. Then we must worry about killing civilians and hostages. Clearly and unfortunately there is no easy way to solve this problem which as the potential to be with us for a very long time. Additional Strategy