War is on the horizon, but it may not be the war everyone is thinking about.
Put yourself in the position of the Islamic State. You are gaining power, wealth, personnel, and land. Above all you are gaining status; you have the Sunni Islamists starting to see you as the champion of Islam, and you’ve succeeded in doing something not even Al Qaeda has done: seized a state of your own. The Saudis are scared. The Iranians are nervous. The Syrians and Iraqis are on the run. The Americans don’t have a plan. You are hacking heads off with impunity and you are blatant about publishing your acts and making sure that everyone knows about it. Why would you do this?
The Islamic State is doing everything they can to infuriate the world into a killing rage. To what end? Any of the major nations could erase the Islamic State in the blink of an eye should they chose to do so. So why push them?
One answer might be because if the Islamic State can get those powerful nations involved in a war and in close proximity to each other, they might just start fighting among themselves. Then the fragile alliance to destroy IS might be turned instead towards direct confrontation between powerful regional nations that will then draw in the major powers of the world.
This is the most logical goal of the Islamic State. They are in a position that gives them strength and influence out of all proportion to what they should have, because no one has effectively opposed them. If left unchecked, this conflict might balloon into something no one saw coming.
The most powerful nation in the world and the most hated by IS, the United States, has through inaction effectively increased the Islamic State influence around the world. The US has failed to prevent the emergence of IS or to contain it once it burst onto the scene.
In the US, we stand idly by and watch those few groups who actively oppose IS get hammered by Islamic State forces. The Peshmerga desperately called for aid and weapons, but our responses are so desultory and delayed that Iran and Russia have stepped in, which further emphasizes the weakness of the United States’ policy and our President.
The Islamic State is running a great gamble. The longer they stand reluctantly opposed, the more prestige they gain and the more influence in the Islamic world. They intend to create an Islamic world under the control of a “religiously pure” caliph, which should terrify you if you know anything about history. The longer IS survives the more Sunni fighters they pull to their cause and the deeper the trap becomes.
Forget for a moment the negative perception we have of insurgents as 3rd-rate fighters. So far they have managed to defeat Syrian, Iraqi, and Peshmerga forces in open battle and have seized huge swathes of territory, which they appear to be competently (as competently as sharia can be) managing. In terms of conquest, this is the first true Islamic victory in decades. The Islamic State fighters have heroes now. They have commanders that they can look up to; commanders who have victories on the battlefield.
The most powerful nations tiptoe around the situation. It does not matter than those same nations are not afraid of the Islamic State but of inadvertently causing a more direct conflict with each other, the Islamic State gets to claim credit for stymieing the might of the West no matter what the actual reality is.
The more they boast without American redress, the more heinous their crimes, the more confident and powerful they appear. And while this is happening, they gain real presence and territory in the Middle East.
The Saudis are even afraid of them because of the control that they can exert on the Sunni majority. Through the IS, the house of Saud sees the possibility of the return of the leader that will unify the Islamic people, and it does not matter if the subsequent poverty and oppression is self inflicted.
To many if not most Islamists, the West is the true enemy. The West has kept them down. The West has defeated them time and again in battle. The West has killed them in massive numbers. The West is the enemy that they learned to hate as children. IS hates the West… but it needs the West. For without the West to oppose, IS’s ideology will fall apart. They need to trap the West into a prolonged confrontation, one that is fought on the IS’s ground and on the IS’s terms.
And make no mistake, a trap is building in the Middle East. It has been cunningly crafted to take into account the years of war and the fickle nature of the American people. The trap has its power in three directions. If America does nothing, the Islamic State gains territory and more importantly, status.
The second level to the trap is the continuing humiliation being thrust upon the United States for our inaction and if we get involved directly, we must negotiate now with a large group of nations and instead of being the leader of the possible coalition, we area there hat in hand without much input as of yet beyond airstrikes.
The third level of this trap is if and when actual combat is joined in joint venture either engineering an attack on one or the other coalition forces in order to get them fighting among each other.
It is so exquisite I wish I thought it up. Do nothing and the Islamic State gains, if the United States tries to get involved, we must assuredly will face ridicule and be humiliated further, giving propaganda victories to the Islamic State, and finally, once combat is joined the possibility exists of direct conflict between reluctant partners.
Can you imagine that the United States might share the battlefield with Iranian troops simply because we share the Islamic State as an enemy? It was once said if you wanted to know the measure of a man, look at their enemies. The Islamic State is riding high.
In order to avoid the trap we are going to have to either eat crow and sit back and let the Russians or someone else deal with the IS or we are going to have to get involved alone without attempting a coalition.
We must approach arrogantly since we cannot approach confidently and we need to act quickly. This is not a NATO issue yet since no NATO allies have been attacked. Now we know why the Islamic State has left Turkey alone… for now.
Sending Special Operations Forces is fine but we need to get more men and weapons on the ground. And we either use Israel as our port of debarkation or we invade Syria directly from the Mediterranean and tell the Russians to shove it.
The bottom line is that in order to deal with the traps being set by IS, we must accept that part is already working and we need to eat some humble pie while kicking a serious amount of Islamic State ass.
© 2014 The Havok Journal