The West appears to be bored with the Islamic State; it takes a beheading or the threat of one to make the front page these days. While the administration continues with the bombing campaign, not much is said until the Islamic State threatens to make someone famous, someone like James Foley, Peter Kassig, and others.
Two Japanese men, Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yakawa, are now slated to join the martyrdom. “Jihadi John” has a new video of them and a ransom demand of $200 million, which coincidentally is the amount that Japan pledged to support nations involved in the current effort against the Islamic State.
We waited on the elections, the budget, and the market. We still have yet to see the one real and vital requirement to finishing this issue — American combat formations on the ground driving from the Mediterranean coast to Mosul.
Hell, the troops currently in that country would really like some boots too. They must have some seriously sore feet wearing shower shoes in support of the President’s pledge of no “boots on the ground.”
It is an unfortunate fact that terror groups can take hostages. It is additionally unfortunate that they can do pretty much as they will with them because unless the location is known in a timely fashion, even the most vaunted counter-terrorist organizations the American military can field are unable to do anything.
I am not sure that Mr. Obama is prepared to make a decision in the timeframe that might be necessary. It has been purported that the administration had information on the location of James Foley months before he was murdered, but he did not act on it until enough time had passed to render the information speculative.
The intelligence effort and counter-terrorism strategies are messy. This is not a sanitary world we live in and the worst of mankind hides in terror groups who kill for an ideology. A leader must be prepared to take risks.
We can drop thousands of bombs; have most probably dropped several thousands, and what will we have accomplished? Making holes in the earth and knocking down a few buildings. We are using targeted strikes. That’s great. But even dedicated marksmen miss shots in a heated engagement. A fighter bomber dropping a stick from 2000 feet even using satellite navigation and ground target lasing is not going to hit anything worthwhile, if the targets moved while the aircraft was on the way.
There is only one way to secure ground. You put a grunt with a weapon on it.
Despite the number of bombs we have dropped, it seems to have little if any effect on the Islamic State anyway. We might kill a few of them and disrupt plans for an hour or a day, but the reality is, the Islamic State is still holding on. Like treating cancer with vitamin shots instead of chemo, they continue to survive and the longer they do so, the more adherents they gain.
It is like treating cancer with vitamin shots instead of chemo.
We are still “training” the Iraqi Army and others. We are still using “observers” on the ground to call in airstrikes. Each one of these activities are necessary, but they don’t begin to be enough to deal with the situation.
We finally gave weapons to the Kurds, but then what happened? The press stopped reporting. Without daily publicity the apathetic American public could not be made to care. Instead, we were treated to pseudo-celebrities who show their bare ass to gain more attention.
Three-ring circuses around supposed police injustice distract us, despite the fact that every shooter was exonerated by a grand jury. What does this accomplish? Inflaming public opinion. Changing the focus. Even when people should know better, the public accepts the misdirection.
What happened in the world while we were focused inward? The Islamic State continues to grow. They continue to consolidate their gains. While they might be damaged by the bombing, it was at best an expensive distraction.
We watch as our oil prices drop and the gas at the pump gets cheaper. We celebrate —without thinking — about the possibilities, like the dangers to the world economy. Or the danger to our economy. The cost of doing business. The advantage that those costs bring to our enemies.
We waited out the election cycle in the hopes that something would change.
Now we will see if our newly elected majority will do anything that matters — or if they’ll keep bickering as usual. Are we going to keep ignoring the realities of the Middle East or are we going to finally do something?
War against the Islamic State will happen. At some point they will have grown powerful enough to demonstrably withstand what air power can do. Then with no choice, the government will send in the ground forces and breach the President’s awful ‘boots on the ground’ threshold
What is the price for waiting?
The longer we wait, the harder it will be when it is time to go in. Instead of hitting loosely aligned groups and individuals we will face a united formation. They can remain insurgents or show themselves as an army. Either way, the body count will not be insignificant. Neither will the costs. When that happens, I want to see Mr. Obama’s face that day. Because lives will be lost as happens in war, but some of them will have been lost because President Obama took way too long to act.
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