Lindsey Graham was the only presidential candidate who advocated for sending tens of thousands of United States ground troops to Syria and Iraq to defeat Islamic State. Graham, a republican senator from South Carolina, exited the 2016 presidential race today.
Republican presidential candidate, Senator Lindsey Graham, seen in this file photo from Nov. 13, 2015, dropped out of the 2016 Republican presidential contest Monday, acknowledging that he was winning little political support.
While he disagrees with Graham’s proposal, President Obama praised him for being “honest about suggesting ‘here is something I would do that the president is not doing.’ In an interview with National Public Radio, Obama said calls for carpet-bombing “would have an enormous backlash against the United States” if tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians and Iraqis are killed in the process. He also said deployment of tens of thousands of troops would result in an indefinite period of governing.
So what will work? And what will not?
U.S.-Muslim Alliance: The Best Solution to Eliminate ISIS
Mohamed Abdelaziz – Fikra Forum
The U.S. military machine cannot beat ISIS on its own: advanced weapons, missiles with “pinpoint accuracy,” and drones cannot destroy the group without the support and assistance of Muslim and particularly Arab countries. The war against ISIS is not a war of weapons but rather a war of ideologies, and tight collaboration between the United States and Muslim countries, in combination with effective use of hard and soft power, will allow the excision of extremist ideologies from their points of origin before they have the chance to spread. The United States does not want to send ground troops to fight ISIS and is fully aware that even with its Western allies, it cannot defeat the group without the cooperation of Muslims. The great benefits of such a cooperation are made evident by the successful U.S.-Kurdish alliance, which has achieved great victories on the ground.
U.S.-Kurdish military cooperation has made the liberation of many areas previously under ISIS control possible, contributing to halting the expansion of ISIS across the region. In light of these positive results, the United States should attempt to implement the same approach by forming an alliance with the Muslim Arab countries. However, which Muslim countries to include in this coalition is a somewhat thorny issue.
At the theoretical level, a more effective solution could be adopted if the West were to quickly form a unified Arab army with the intention of overthrowing Assad and then heading north in order to free ISIS-held territories and dismantle its military machine.
“Arab Boots on the Ground” and Other Bad Ideas that Won’t Beat ISIS
David French – National Review
In the aftermath of Paris and San Bernardino, the GOP primary campaign is plagued by a curious dynamic. The candidates are in open competition to offer the toughest rhetoric against ISIS, but at the same time unwilling to offer truly tough and effective policies. Instead, they’re reduced to lobbing out ideas that do little more than give Republican-primary voters false hope — that there’s a shortcut to defeating ISIS.What follows is a non-exhaustive list of the worst of the shortcuts, phrases that, if repeated, should raise red flags for their obvious strategic flaws:
Time to Focus on the Wars Within the War Against the Islamic State
Michael Knights – War on the Rocks
Contrary to many assertions, defeating the self-proclaimed Islamic State may not be particularly complex in the parts of Iraq, Syria, Libya and other countries where the group has sought to hold terrain. If local armed forces get organized and receive air support, they will defeat the Islamic State on the battlefield, and in doing so they will tarnish the group’s reputation for success and limit its recruitment potential. But there is one thing standing in the way of this victory: the lack of unity and motivation of its opponents.
… While defeating the Islamic State may be Washington’s top concern, it is not the over-riding priority of most local actors arrayed against the group on the ground. … Local actors’ preparations for the next war — or, likely, wars — helps explain the slow progress of the battle against the Islamic State so far.
What is America Fighting For?
Larry Diamond – The Atlantic
The United States has been at war with ISIS for more than a year, and with Islamic extremism for nearly a decade and a half. But beyond defending the homeland against terrorism, U.S. leaders have not offered a compelling answer to this vital question: What is it that America is fighting for?
From the very beginning, the unifying American principle has been freedom. For almost two and a half centuries, Americans have held these truths to be self-evident: that all people “are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Among these were the natural rights to institute a government “of, by and for the people”; to think, speak, publish, worship, assemble, and organize freely; and to have these rights protected by an independent judiciary.
Over the last decade, democratic progress ground to a halt and freedom has been receding, for a number of reasons. The debacle of American intervention in Iraq, which was justified in part as a “democracy promotion” exercise, soured the U.S. and other Western publics on the goal of trying to support the spread of democracy, even by peaceful means.