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The latest ISIS attacks in Paris, the downing of a Russian airliner and the seeming lack of progress against ISIS in Iraq and Syria is really raising the heat of debates about the best way to defeat of ISIS.
In this blog post I will go where angels fear to tread and explain my views on that question. I invite you to add your take on the issue by clicking on “Comment” just below the title of this post.
First, since I will be discussing military strategy, I should tell you a bit about my history. I became eligible for the draft in the early 1960s. Initially I registered as a conscientious objector.
Later, however, I volunteered for the draft and spent two years in the army. I didn’t do anything heroic. I spent my entire tour of duty in Colorado. And, to this day, I am not sure I could bring myself to kill another person whatever the situation.
And now to the heart of the issue.
People on one side of the debate say we should bomb the hell out of ISIS and we should send in massive amounts of troops on the ground to overwhelm and destroy them for good. The other side says we should not have to send in large numbers of ground troops. Basically, the mid-eastern nations should fight the good fight with their own troops and with air support from us.
I think both sides are right, and both sides are wrong. A combination of both strategies is the best way to fight ISIS.
We have tried hard, and failed to train mid-eastern armies to do the ground fighting, to fight their own battles. The response of the Iraq army has been a joke. At the first serious attack from ISIS, the have run away in a panic leaving valuable military equipment behind. We in essence were arming the ISIS army with that abandoned equipment. We have tried training local “friendly” militias only to see them just fight each other or go and fight for ISIS.
I think, if we really want to destroy ISIS, we and our European allies will need to deploy large armies to Syria and Iraq to defeat them. Air support for our troops, and any Arab armies willing to join the fight, will also be needed.
But defeating their army is just the beginning. The first modern extremist Muslim group to attack us was al Queda. (Note: Please note the inclusion of the word “extremist”. Most Muslims are ordinary peace loving people like you and me.) We’ve heard very little about al Queda for a long time. I think it’s ability to make trouble is largely destroyed.
But now we have ISIS. So, why is that? The answer is that we and the Europeans have a long history abuse of the people of the mid- east, both long ago and now. And that continuing abuse has created a lot of anger towards us. It makes it easier for extremists to radicalize others. I believe that until, and unless, we seriously address the awful things we and Europeans have done to Muslims, there will be never ending list of terrorist groups attacking us.
What bad things have we done?
In 1099 AD, in the first Crusade, Christian Europeans conquered Jerusalem and its surrounding land. They took it from the Muslims who had owned that territory since 637 AD. Thus it was theirs for 462 years. Our nation is just 239 years old. And we emphatically declare that this is OUR land and no one can take it from us. How do think Muslims felt when Jerusalem was taken from them after 462 years.
There were actually three crusades as control of Jerusalem and its environs went back and forth between Christians and Muslims.
And it gets worse. In all three crusades the European Christians slaughtered Muslim men, women and children. They enslaved many Muslims as well. They did pretty much what ISIS is doing now.
Fast forward to World War One. The Famous British soldier, Lawrence of Arabia successfully organized a very effective Arab military army that played a major part in defeating Germany and Italy in the mid-east. The British and French governments promised that, in return for their efforts, the Arabs would be allowed to form their own independent nations after the war. That, of course, did not happen. England and France divided up the middle-east and built colonies there.
Lawrence deeply respected the Arabs and their culture. He hoped that England and France would keep their promise. After the war he was offered an award by the English government for his war accomplishments. He turned it down because he was so bitter about the English duplicity.
In 1956, after Egypt had become independent, Britain and France invaded Egypt to, among other things, take back the Suez Canal. The UN, the US and many other nations were outraged and Britain and France were forced to withdraw their forces.
In 1967 several Arab nations attacked Israel. They were clearly in the wrong and Israel defeated them. However, Israel has had an army of occupation in the Palestinian territories ever since. All that has done is to solidify the hatred of Israel among its neighbors. By contrast, after World War Two, the US established the Marshall Plan which poured billions of dollars into the countries in Europe, including Germany, to help them recover from the devastation of the war. Now Germany is a strong democracy and one our greatest friends and allies.
Israel’s policy has created problems for our nation because we have guaranteed its existence no matter what it does. That gets the many Muslims angry. A far better policy would be for us to guarantee the existence of Israel on the condition that it remove its army of occupation from Palestine.
And finally, the US invaded Iraq under the false claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Iraq was run by a dictator and he had carried out atrocities against some groups. However, as long as Iraq’s citizens stayed out of politics, they had a reasonably good life. Our invasion of Iraq has destabilized Iraq long term and by some estimates that has lead to between 146,000 and 166,000 civilian deaths. Those deaths are still happening.
So, in conclusion, I think we and European countries will need to send a large military force to Syria and Iraq to defeat ISIS. But to defuse the continuing hatred of us among SOME FEW Muslims, we, the European countries and Israel should probably create a Marshall Plan for the mid-east. If they see we are helping them have a good and prosperous life we will eliminate the cause of some Muslims being radicalized.
I invite you to share your views on this subject by clicking on “Comment” just below the title of this post.