Syrian refugee crisis points to need to confront ISIS

September 13, 2015

The Syrian refugee crisis presents a conundrum.

On the one hand, human decency demands that the millions of refugees, men and women and little children, be accommodated. They are fleeing war, and terror from an enemy as savage as the world has ever known (not more if we look back into history but as bad).

On the other hand, at some point the people of the Middle East have to fight back against terrorism unless they just want to cede their homeland (and eventually much of the world) to the barbarians.

(One has to wonder if those men among the refugees of proper age and fitness for military service should not be asked to join in the fight against ISIS, but that is problematic.)

One could argue that the West in its dealings in the Middle East and its move for hegemony or complete control there over the last century is somewhat responsible for the chaos there now.

But we cannot go back in time. This is now and what do we do?

And that’s the problem. There just is not an easy or sure answer.

The Assad regime in Syria murdering its own people on a grand scale and the ISIS terrorists also engaged in murder not only of a people but a whole cultural history (destroying ancient artifacts), together beg for some force to come in and deal with them.

ISIS of course controls portions of Iraq, a nation we invested so heavily in with blood and treasure in a nation-building effort only to be kicked out of (that is our leadership let them kick us out).

Recent efforts (over the past decade that is) to bring peace and democratic government to the region have brought nothing but failure to the U.S. and the West.

I personally think the U.S. just does not have the resolve to win anymore. It may be because the public does not see a direct connection to its own well-being. We talk the game, but don’t really believe it in our hearts. But meanwhile we sacrifice blood of our military and trillions of dollars from our treasury – and all borrowed money (much of it owned to China).

But when ISIS really does take over we will see the error of our ways. But it may be too late by then.

ISIS is not going to stop in the Middle East.

And probably part of the  problem in our military interventions is that the public assumes those in charge are taking care of things and will do what is necessary and no need for any sacrifice on its part — don’t bother us, handle it. And then when it all falls apart due to half measures and timidity on the part of our leadership everyone wonders what happened. But the leadership is afraid to suggest some sacrifice on the part of the public. Leaders don’t want to be thrown out of office.

In addition, some in the military have been looking too much toward their retirement or the next book or love affair and not the problem at hand.

(But those who do the actual fighting do sacrifice, along with their families.)

I was against the Iraq intervention or invasion both times. But I was mystified why we held back in Desert Storm and did not push on into Baghdad – I mean Saddam’s vaunted forces were surrendering to television cameramen.

So we wound up years later going back at much cost but got bogged down in a civil war that resulted from the ousting and eventual execution of the strongman. Yes, and I know, that is supposedly among the reasons or an excuse ex post facto for not going all the way the first time. But I don’t buy it.

I’m going off on a tangent here I know. But the problem is that since the Viet Nam fiasco we don’t fight wars to win.

We have to pick our battles for sure. But once we do, sending men and women into harm’s way and committing our citizen’s dollars to a cause in which we are afraid to win is a moral outrage.

That is not to say that every time we are involved in some type of conflict we have to throw everything in our arsenal at it. Situations differ, but we must at some point have resolve.

Oh, and I was against the Viet Nam War (and yet I served at the time in the army, albeit not in Viet Nam by fortunate chance), but like so many people I could not figure out why our leaders did not seem to be willing to commit the necessary resources and use the necessary tactics to win.

But back to today, to Syria and the fight against ISIS:

Perhaps we need to lean on our Saudi Arabian allies for help in putting together a stronger regional force to combat ISIS.

President Obama should have honored his own threat against the Assad regime for continuing to use gas and other weapons against its own people. He should have ordered attacks on the regime when he had the excuse fresh in mind, but he wobbled.

Putin of Russia and the Iranian regime support Assad, but they cannot be comfortable about ISIS.

With the new Iran nuclear agreement under which Iran should have many or most of its economic sanctions lifted, maybe the U.S. could have some leverage there (although the agreement is pretty weak and may not be of much help).

And as far as Putin of Russia goes – we just need to stand up to him. He’ll blink.

The U.S. has much invested in the region. We need to negotiate with the powerful players there (well not ISIS).

It is a complicated civil war in Syria, with forces we support fighting against the Assad regime but joined by terrorist forces who are also fighting the Assad regime. And both the U.S. and Iran see ISIS as an enemy but find themselves at odds with each other.

And just like the Soviet Union before it, Russia wants to have influence in the region and vies for it with the U.S.

All very complex.

But being the world’s super power carries responsibilities.

And first we need to be responsible to ourselves.